Ryan Coogler directed the latest edition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Black Panther. It works to move forward the plot that Marvel Studios and Disney has created, but still remains to be an original edition following Captain America: Civil War. Don’t worry, there are no spoilers in this review.
T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is ascending to the throne in the African nation of Wakanda. He returns to his home country to be appointed king following the death of his father T’Chaka (John Kani) and become the Black Panther. The five tribes of the country gather, as do his mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett), younger sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), head of the elite guard Okoye (Danai Gurira), and his ex-girlfriend Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o). He is challenged for the throne by M’Baku (Winston Duke), but easily defeats him.
After becoming King, he immediately sets out to find Klau (Andy Serkis), the criminal who stole the nation’s most natural resource vibrarium, but little does he know that CIA Agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) is also seeking him. Klau is arrested, but is soon released by Eric Kilmonger (Michael B. Jordan), an ex-black-ops agent who has turned into a terrorist. Kilmonger has a secret connection to T’Challa and he intends to use it to usurp the Black Panther in order to wage a bitter war on the world.
The movie is one of the most well-made films in the MCU as far as special effects and costume design. Some have said it is in the Top 3, but I have to disagree. I do not think it is that high, but Coogler is a good director and while the film had some pacing issues, he crafts an excellent narrative about a man who has to become a king.
Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan shine as hero and villain. They are the antithesis of each other. Black Panther wants to bring peace and maintain the values of his kingdom. Killmonger wants to use Wakanda’s resources to bring death and destruction. They are two sides of the same coin and it really works in this film. The side characters add much to the plot and do the film right in bringing out the best of the two leads.
I don’t want to, but I feel like I have to comment on the politics of the film. While the film definitely has a Liberal slant, there are some Conservative values in there. For instance, the emphasis on family, sacrifice, courage, and the rejection of violence, bitterness, and feckless platitudes are all part of the plot. Yes, some far-left talking points are woven into it, but they were more about eye-rolling than shouting at the screen.
Many commentators, on both the Left and the Right, are reading way too much into the politics of the film. The Left is seeing the movie not as a superhero story, but as a watershed moment for race relations. While race is a theme, it is not a standout movie like To Kill A Mocking Bird. Likewise, the Right accuses the film of being anti-Western values and a slap in the face to the very topic. Not so. In fact, the ideals of the West can be found in the film.
In summary, Black Panther is definitely tied with Dr. Strange as the best movie to come out in the phase of the MCU. Coogler should be applauded for weaving such a story that would make creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby proud. Personally, I believe that if the original actors of the MCU are ready to move on, Boseman should join Benedict Cumberbatch as the new leaders of The Avengers.
Check out the trailer below:
That is my review. What did you think? Let me know in the comments below and tell me if there’s a movie you’d like me to review. Check out my thoughts on Batman: Gotham By Gaslight. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.