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Photo by: NPR

Photo by: NPR

Movie Review: Black Panther

February 17, 2018

Two words: Wakanda forever.

The final Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to hit the big screen before the long-awaited release of
Avengers: Infinity War in May, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther is a show-stopping combination of stunning
visuals, epic fight scenes and a legendary cast that offers a timely message within a story unlike anything
the MCU has ever seen.

Following the death of King Chaka (John Kani) in Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther begins with
T’Chaka’s son T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) assuming the throne and taking on the role of the Black
Panther in Wakanda, a technologically advanced nation in Africa disguised from the rest of the planet as
a third world country. Wakanda’s self-preservation and separation from the rest of the world come as a
defense of its technology and heavy supply of vibranium, the strongest metal in the world (and that
which makes up Captain America’s shield). When a ghost from T’Challa’s family’s past winds up in
Wakanda, T’Challa is faced with both a challenge and a chance to decide what kind of king he is going to
be.

Boseman’s brief, but enjoyable, performance as T’Challa in Civil War is phenomenal, so it’s no surprise
that he steals the show once again as fans get a deeper look into the life of the new Wakandan king.
T’Challa proves to be a ruler who, though he may be young, is full of grace and wisdom beyond his years.

Of course, his action scenes in the Black Panther suit are a superhero fan’s dream. Boseman’s
performance is nothing shy of incredible, and leaves audiences wanting to see more of T’Challa, who will
make a perfect leader if the suspected “new Avengers” movie that fans hope to see after the fourth
Avengers movie comes to fruition.

The driving force behind Black Panther is certainly its all-star cast featuring big names in Hollywood like:
Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker as “Zuri,” Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya as “W’Kabi” and Emmy-
winning This is Us star Sterling K. Brown as “N’Jobu.”

Up until fairly recently, the MCU has struggled to produce memorable villains, but Michael B. Jordan’s
performance as Erik Killmonger is enough to solidify the character as one of the best Marvel villains of all
time, second possibly only to Loki. Killmonger fits the role of the tortured villain to perfection.

Killmonger is intimidating from the start, delivering a number of incredible monologues and fierce action
scenes. It’s easy to leave the theater with conflicted hatred for the character and respect for the way
Jordan portrays him.

One of Black Panther’s greatest strengths comes from its dynamic female characters. In fact, T’Challa’s
closest companions throughout the entire film are entirely women.

Led by Okoye (Danai Gurira), the Black Panther’s personal bodyguard squad of fierce women, known as
the “Dora Milaje,” steal every scene they appear in with their fearlessness and loyalty to the throne.
Gurira is particularly fantastic, and brings the right balance of seriousness and playfulness to Okoye, who serves as both the Milaje’s leader and the general of the Wakandan army. Her action scenes make for some of the most incredible scenes of the film.

Next in the film’s female lineup is the always-incredible Lupita Nyong’o as “Nakia,” a Wakandan spy
whose heart is set on protecting the weak. Though she may be T’Challa’s ex-lover, Nakia is nowhere
near reduced to a love interest. Her greatest duty is to the vulnerable, but she does not hesitate for a
second to defend the nation she loves when given an opportunity to do so. Nakia’s protectiveness over
T’Challa’s mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), and his sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), is simply
beautiful.

Wright’s performance as Shuri is perhaps the greatest of Black Panther’s women and Marvel’s latest
breakout role. The brilliant 16-year- old princess of Wakanda, Shuri is the innovator behind the nation’s
groundbreaking, advanced technology. Though she may be the smartest person in Wakanda and likely
the world, Shuri is also the most entertaining character in the movie, delivering a number of witty lines
that are hard not to love. With sibling relationships in the MCU generally being strained (Thor/Loki and
Gamora/Nebula) or occasionally heartbreaking (Wanda/Pietro), it’s refreshing to see a more
heartwarming approach to a brother-sister relationship, built on love and support for one another.

From CGI to costumes and makeup, Black Panther’s visuals are absolutely flawless. Every new piece of
Wakandan technology introduced throughout the movie looks as real as fictional technology could
appear. Wakanda’s landscape is breathtaking, especially in scenes where characters visit the colorful
“ancestral plane.” To top it all off, the animation involved in the Black Panther suit is enough to make it
the greatest suit to appear in an MCU movie to date.

If there’s a makeup and costuming department from any Marvel movie that deserves an award, it’s
Black Panther’s. Every piece of attire that appears in the film is unique, intricate and authentic. From
Ramonda’s regal attire, to Shuri’s more fun, functional outfits, every piece of clothing is entirely suited
to the character who wears it, while remaining culturally appropriate. In addition, it’s easy to see the
immense time and detail the movie’s makeup team put into every tattoo, face painting and body art
that appears in the film, especially that of Killmonger.

When it comes to an overall message, the one found in Black Panther is not only timely, but opens up
room for an important discussion on where self-preservation should end and helping those in need
should begin.

The movie’s only fault comes from a slow, predictable stretch toward the middle that seems to drag on
a little too long before rushing to catch back up to the action. Outside of that, the action keeps viewers
hooked at every moment.

Between its stunning visual effects and the most talented cast in a Marvel movie to date, Black Panther
offers a style of superhero film never seen before, making it a top-tier MCU movie that leaves viewers
wanting to see much more of T’Challa and Wakanda. Luckily, fans won’t have to wait too long, as the
Wakandans are set to play a significant role in Infinity War.

 

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