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Battle of the Reviews: Black Panther


After directing Fruitvale Station, Creed and now, Black Panther, Ryan Coogler has established himself as one of the very best directors of our era. In Black Panther, he created a breathtakingly beautiful world that was as vibrant as it was authentic. I am by no means an expert in African culture, however, it appears as though the filmmakers took great care to make this entire world look and feel as genuine as possible. This is a very stylish film, which is great, but what makes it even better is the fact that underneath all of that there is a huge amount of heart.

 The film opens up with a very cool introduction of Wakanda that explains how they came to be. It’s a brief scene but an important one since it helps set up a very different world that the audience has not yet seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After this introduction, however, we are taken to Oakland where we meet a young King T’Chaka (Atandwa Kani) and his brother, N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown). It’s a highly important scene that the film expertly returns to throughout different parts of the story.

Before long, we come to the present where T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is getting ready to embark on a mission as the Black Panther. During this mission, the film introduces other important characters such as Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o). This scene also helps figure out when exactly this is all taken place since there is mention of King T’Chaka’s recent death and the upcoming coronation of T’Challa as the new King of Wakanda. When we return to Wakanda after that, we are introduced to T’Challa’s mother, Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and his younger sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright).

Marvel films have a reputation for not giving much depth to anyone other than its heroes. The supporting casts in these films are usually given very little background information or they are stuck in pointless secondary plotlines, but Black Panther changes that. As far as MCU films go, this might be the best when it comes to fully fleshing out the entire cast. It all starts with these introductions that lay the groundwork and sets up the various relationships these characters all have with each other.

The biggest criticism that Marvel films always face is that their villains just aren’t up to par with the heroes. Few Marvel villains have avoided this criticism, mainly the Red Skull and Loki, who is by far considered to be the MCU’s greatest villain. In Black Panther, however, Michael B. Jordan delivers a villain in Killmonger that is so ruthless, calculating and with such purpose that fans might soon call him the MCU’s best villain ever. This is an electrifying performance by Michael B. Jordan in which he commands the screen every time he is on.

There is just so much to love about Black Panther. While it does contain some political undertones, the film never bashes you over the head with them. They flow naturally into the story and serve as motivation for some of the characters.There is a heavy theme about family that runs through Black Panther. At times, it makes you question what being family really means. I loved that nothing in this film is black and white. No one in this film is impervious to making mistakes. This is a story that really highlights how the mistakes of those who came before us can come harm us or those after us. There is an interesting debate that T’Challa must have with himself about staying stuck in the old ways or expanding Wakanda’s views on how certain matters should be handled.

I’m not usually one to notice scores and soundtracks in movies but the musical elements in Black Panther were so damn good that they were hard to ignore. The costume designs were beautiful and respectful to African culture. They had a modern feel to them while keeping the traditional colors and patterns in place. Wakanda is depicted as a highly advanced technological marvel, but the film also shows Wakanda’s more traditional side where we see small towns and the natural areas around them. This is a visually striking film full of fun, vibrant colors as well as beautiful scenery shots.The fighting sequences are incredibly well-thought out, not only in the choreography but in the implications that each fight had. Superhero films oftentimes have fun action sequences just for the fun of it, but in Black Panther every fight and every battle had purpose to it. Whether it was a fight for tradition or for the throne, these battles all had weight and significance to them.

Black Panther is a terrific new entry into the ever-growing MCU. It is a timely film that shines a light on the underrepresented. It possesses one of the strongest casts in any MCU film. It should be noted that other characters I didn’t discuss, like Everett Ross (Martin Freeman), Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) and W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) are also highly important to the story and are used accordingly. There is no way around it, Black Panther is one of Marvel’s best films yet. If it wasn’t for a small lull in the pace of the film towards the middle, this would be a perfect film. Regardless, it is absolutely a wonderful film. All hail the king.     

Black Panther (2018)
  Director:  Ryan Coogler
Studio:  Marvel Studios
Genre:  Action, Adventure
MPAA:  PG-13
Release Date:  February 16th, 2018
Author:  Eddie Lopez
Eddie Lopez Eduardo Lopez grew up in the hot deserts of the Imperial Valley (El Centro, CA) but now resides in San Diego. Eddie is a recent graduate from San Diego State University with a degree in Television, Film, and New Media. He grew up on classic horror movies but loves movies of every genre and every decade. Aside from talking about movies, Eddie enjoys writing screenplays and hopes to one day have one of his scripts made into an actual film.