Black Panther, written and directed by Ryan Coogler, is the 18th entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the final film before the ultra-mega-deluxe super-sized crossover that is Avengers: Infinity War, and easily one of Marvel’s most complex and well-made features.
The film picks up what can only be a few days after the events of Captain America: Civil War. T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to his secretive and highly advanced home of Wakanda, now both its king and protector. He attempts to adjust to his new role, and wonders if a good man can make a good king. Opposing him is Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) a revolutionary who seeks to use Wakanda’s powerful weapons and advanced technology to establish a new world order.
Black Panther deals with a number of very serious themes, colonialism, the use of violence, the class divide between rich and poor, but it never loses its heart. That’s thanks in large part to its stellar cast. This movie is practically an ensemble piece, and every actor knocks their role out of the park. Standouts include Danai Gurira as Okoye, the head of T’Challa’s bald bad-ass all female bodyguards and Letitia Wright as Shuri, T’Challa’s snarky, super-genius younger sister. There’s a lot of humor in Black Panther, but it never dampens the heavier aspects of the film. I was never pulled out of serious moment by a poorly placed gag or one-liner.
The cinematography in Black Panther is outstanding. It doesn’t look like or feel like a Marvel movie. It’s a serious piece of work, while still functioning as a popcorn flick. Honestly the only complaint I have is that at times the CGI on T’Challa’s and Killmonger’s suits seemed a bit off. Maybe it’s because of the color of the suits and the look of the material. But that’s it. That’s the only complaint I have walking out of the theater. The CGI on the suits looked funny sometimes. That’s all I’ve got.
Black Panther is a huge achievement for the MCU; a serious thoughtful reflection on power and violence, that still retains all of the heart of a Marvel film.