The Black Panther film is out, and man is it a sight to see, with an excellently cast and tightly written script, which captures the essence of T’Challa, Wakanda, and Marvel Comics almost perfectly. The film isn’t the best of the Marvel Movie Universe (those honors go to Captain America; Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War), but it’s definitely Top Seven, for sure.
The story itself is pretty simple: T’Challa, a.k.a Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) is getting ready to be installed as king after his father’s death in Civil War. He has to deal with the struggle of being the the king who has to unite all the tribes in his African nation, and a superhero trying to protect his nation from threats internal and foreign. T’Challa is a different type of superhero because he doesn’t work outside the government: he is the government. It’d be like if Iron Man or Captain America were elected to Congress but still decided to spend time fighting criminals. Black Panther showed the balance rather well, while not beating people over the head with it. There are a few things which I could see coming from a mile a way, but nothing ever really felt shoehorned or forced into the film. This includes the discovery all heroes have clay feet, and how their decisions can come back to hurt others when they least expect it.
One thing which really deserves praise is the chemistry between Boseman and on-screen sister Letitia Wright. The two really work well together, and you’d almost believe they were actually related. Their mother is played by Angela Bassett, who does a fine job being more of an administrator, while Forest Whitaker is cast well as the elder mentor for Boseman. Michael B. Jordan and Andy Serkis play the villains in the film, which is where my one real complaint comes up. Jordan is great as a menacing, almost sympathetic villain who is hurt by the sins of others, and lashes out those he perceives as enemies. It’s apparently the first time Jordan has played a villain, and it didn’t seem that way. Serkis is a terrorist and a thief, but I wish he’d had more of a role in the film.
Now let’s talk about the political part of it: there is a discussion about the inner city and racism. Yet, it does an excellent job at providing a counter-argument, and showing all people are people regardless of their skin color. There’s a bit of a mention of colonialism, but it wasn’t something which was really discussed, which is fine.
I’m a little leery of films which get a ton of hype before release, especially if the hype can be on political lines. Yet, Black Panther is a film which actually lived up to the hype, while also leaving me wanting more. It’s not the best Marvel film ever, but it’s definitely an A- film, at worst. I really like the fact Marvel is willing to take risks on characters, as Black Panther has not always been a very successful comic book, from a sales standpoint. I really am looking forward to Avengers: Infinity War later this spring. Go see Black Panther, and pay full price for it instead of the matinee. It’s worth your money.