This review will contain massive spoilers for Black Panther as it would be difficult to talk about certain characters such as Killmonger and certain moments in the film whilst trying to avoid spoilers so if you haven’t seen the movie stop reading now. Now, before I actually talk about the story or any plot points there are some other major aspects of this film that need to be discussed first so I’m going to pick the movie apart almost and look at the various different parts that make it so good.
The people behind the movie.
Black Panther is directed by Ryan Coogler who has done a phenomenal job here and has hit yet another success following his impressive track record of Creed and Fruitvale Station. He is definitely 3 for 3 now and after this, his future career is looking extremely bright. Black Panther also has a star-studded lineup and every single one of them does a fantastic job here. Every single character is likable (including the villains) and feels charismatic and that is a credit to the incredible acting that is shown here. Chadwick Boseman does an amazing job as T’Challa and really helps build the character from his supporting role in Captain America: Civil War to the main hero of his own adventure. Letitia Wright also does a wonderful job as Shuri and their brother-sister relationship was not only something that stood out as a highlight of the movie but also something that shocked me because I didn’t expected the chemistry shared between the two to be so good and this made every scene with them thoroughly enjoyable to watch and very believable.
Andy Serkis does an excellent job as Klaw here and to see him having so much fun in front of the camera for a change was nice to see. He sold the character so well and was one of the biggest scene stealers here. Klaw, however, has nothing on the movies, main villain, Erik Killmonger played by Michael B. Jordan who is definitely the best villain we’ve seen in the MCU since Loki and I’ll get onto why he’s just so good a little later when I talk about the plot. Martain Freeman, whilst only having a minor supporting role also does a great job here along with his fellow cast members, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Winston Duke, who was the movies biggest scene stealer and Forest Whitaker to name some. Whilst there are many things this movie gets right, the casting choices and the performances given are by far away, its two biggest successes.
How is it as a comic book movie?
Im happy to say that Black Panther does feel like a comic book movie, but it also feels much more than that at the same time. There are cool heroes and villains and fights and explosions but this movie also has some very interesting topics and conversations it discusses when you dig a little deeper.
Black Panther isn’t the most well known Marvel hero and hasn’t had many heavy hitting or famous comic book storylines compared to others like Captain America or Iron Man. This movie is sure to boost his popularity massively, especially after his amazing introduction in Civil War. If you go into this movie wanting a comic book movie and nothing more you’ll be more than happy. It contains everything you want from a comic book movie; great action, excellent heroes, and villains and most importantly it has that comic book feel of both extraordinary and yet very grounded and easy to connect with. This grounded feel is strengthened by the comedy sprinkled throughout the movie through various characters such as Klaw, Shuri, and T’Challa.
This film has both an excellent album, produced by Kendrick Lamar, but an even better score. Composed by Ludwig Göransson is an excellent blend of both modern music and traditional tribal music which is yet another major message this movie has.
What does this movie have to say?
Black Panther is an excellent comic book and action movie but it also has some very sophisticated topics and discussions it brings up to get you thinking. Culture and identity is a massive topic this movie explores and is done so brilliantly from two opposite points of view, T’Challa, and Killmonger. They both are on a quest of exploring their heritage and who they are not only as individuals but as part of a larger group of people. T’Challa’s discovery that his father was not the idol or hero he thought he was and him learning to let go of the past so to speak and focus on what kind of a king he will be and what future he will form was very interesting and in some paces touching to watch unfold.
Killmonger’s arc was also very interesting to watch but for different reasons. The revelation that his father was killed by T’Chaka, (T’Challa’s father) instantly gave im a well-established arc and story and made us connect with him on certain levels. His outside perspective on Wakanda also made him very relatable very quickly as we the audience are also outsiders looking in. The background he has of him seeing his own people oppressed and knowing that the people Wakanda could help but choose not to make his goals very understandable and it’s clear to see why hashtags such as #Killmongerdidnothingwrong have started to trend because its a fair argument to make.
The movie was at its strongest when dealing with Killmonger’s ideas and his methods and T’Challa dealing with them. It contained extremely powerful moments such as Killmonger proclaiming his body be burned in the sea like his ancestors who jumped from the boats to die rather than be in chains. This again made me feel almost sympathetic towards him as I understood his motives and his anger towards his people’s lack of action in dealing with oppression. Overall at the movie has beautifully set the stage for Avengers: Infinity War and a Black Panther sequel which will inevitably be coming in the future.
Black Panther is not a flawless movie by any means and does have a few minor problems. Certain moments in the movie such as when Black Panther and Killmonger were fighting did look a little cartoonish and stood out as being unfinished when compared to the incredible looking Wakanda. Martin Freeman’s character, Agent Ross also felt slightly underused and almost like this movies version of Felix Leiter from the bond movies, which here feels like some sort of poetic justice. another small nitpick is that the amazing action scenes in the movie felt like they ended way too quick and the only real extended action set piece was the casino/ car chase scene which was one of the movies stand out scenes. overall the small problems this movie has weren’t enough to take away any enjoyment when watching.
How does this fit in the MCU?
This movie is of course apart of the MCU but apart from Klaw and Agent Ross recurring from previous MCU movies and a short end credit scene with Bucky Barns this movie is rather separate from the rest of the MCU and can very easily be enjoyed even with no prior knowledge of the MCU. Like previously mentioned this movie, whilst not having too many connections with the wider cinematic universe it does very nicely set the stage for Infinity War for the hardcore or even casual MCU fans.
In conclusion, Black Panther is a great time and not only a great comic book movie and installment of the MCU but a great cultural movie that explores extremely important topics and helps get them in front of a mainstream audience to help spark a conversation that we need to have more. I rate Black Panther as a 9/10 as a huge fan of the source material it is based off and the MCU and out of appreciation for the topics it discusses and the way it prevents them. Black Panther is a great time and a must-see for anyone who is a fan of Marvel Comics.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. This is my first real attempt of talking about a blockbuster movie so soon after release and anyone who has any tips for how to improve after reading other reviews or writing their own please leave any advice in the comments below. Thank you again and ill, catch you next time.