Michael B. Jordan and Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther

Movie Review: Black Panther (2018) *All Hail The King!!!*

Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther
How do you balance the safety of the few versus obligations to the many?  Should the sins of the past be buried or brought to light?  How can a good man be a good king?  Black Panther is not just another comic book film or an enjoyable MCU installment.  Director Ryan Coogler has established in T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) a complex, layered, admirable monarch.  Black Panther transcends being “just another comic book movie” in the way Wonder Woman did last year.  It’s culturally relevant, brilliantly imaginative, groundbreaking, challenging, and in its 18th installment, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has produced its best film yet.
Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther
Black Panther has received well-deserved critical acclaim in the run-up to its release, as well as news coverage for being the first major comic book film to feature a black hero in a mostly black cast.  T’Challa is the king of the technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda, and aside from Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman-the rest of the cast is black.  The director is black (Ryan Coogler also co-wrote the film’s excellent screenplay).  It features the most interesting black character in comic history, and while the film never shies from where it takes place or the issues relevant to its character’s race, this is no more a “black” film than Captain America is a “white” film.  It’s simply a great film that builds the mythology of a fantastic African nation and establishes a unique hero to the MCU as strong, smart, and different, as any Avenger.  In other words, this is a film for everyone.

Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther

Black Panther debuted in Marvel Comics in 1966.  He’s a king before he’s a superhero; he’s Tony Stark-level smart, and his powers rival any Avenger.  There are so many interesting facets to the character, and Boseman does a wonderful job of portraying T’Challa as he makes the journey from a reluctant king to a visionary leader.  Black Panther also introduces a whole host of new supporting characters to the MCU, wonderfully realized, and fleshed out over the course of the film.  Marvel has done a fantastic job in introducing new corners of their world and populating them with strong supporting casts.  Black Panther’s roster is stellar with the aforementioned Boseman, Serkis, and Freeman returning from previous MCU films joined by Angela Bassett, Forrest Whitaker, Lupita N’yongo, The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Sterling K. Brown, Michael B. Jordan, Winston Duke, and Letitia Wright, who nearly steals the film as T’Challa’s tech-savvy sister, Shuri.

Michael B. Jordan and Daniel Kaluuya in Black Panther

A very valid criticism of the MCU is that in its first 18 installments, it has spent its time on its heroes to the detriment of its villains.  It’s a testament to how well-cast and developed the heroes have been because a lot of the villains have been forgettable at best.  This is certainly not the case with either the return of Serkis’s Klaue (who we last saw in Avengers: Age of Ultron) or Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger.  The best villains are convinced they’re right in what they’re doing and are either charismatic enough to convince the audience that they are justified in their actions or do have legitimate points that they’ve taken to unacceptable extremes.  Killmonger forces T’Challa out of his comfort zone and makes him face uncomfortable truths about the past of his family and the policies of his country.  He’s lethal, driven, but also completely understandable and sympathetic.  As an adversary, he’s probably the best villain the MCU has produced to date.

Chadwick Boseman and Leticia Wright in Black Panther

After reinventing the Rocky franchise with Creed (a film whose entire cast it seems has been sucked into the MCU), Ryan Coogler has proven himself just as adept with a superhero epic.  He does such a good job at fleshing out and developing a dozen characters in a story of palace intrigue, that if there’s any criticism to be made of the film, it’s that the superhero parts aren’t nearly as interesting as the character drama and the exploration of Wakanda.  That’s not to say the superhero facets to Black Panther aren’t fantastic, but no other MCU film has had as strong a script, cast, and world to explore outside of costumed action as Panther does.

Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther

As we draw closer to the end of this first 22-film arc of the MCU, the new characters being introduced (Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange, etc.) and the permanent altering of previous characters such as Thor and Hulk, have created a wealth of story opportunities that won’t require Chris Evans or Robert Downey Jr. for the franchise to continue and thrive.  Like Thor: Ragnarök, Black Panther forever changes the landscape of the MCU as it introduces its titular character.  However Infinity War shakes out, the MCU will be a very, very different place in its wake, but the stories keep getting better.  Avengers: Infinity War may very well offer more spectacle, jaw-dropping visuals, and long-due plot developments than Black Panther, but I highly doubt on its own it will be as outstanding a film.  This is truly something special.

PS – After my preview night showing (sold out for all showings), people were screaming, “WAKANDA FOREVER!” in the parking lot.  I couldn’t agree more.

PPS – There are two end credits scenes; neither of which is to be missed!


Black Panther Poster

26 thoughts on “Movie Review: Black Panther (2018) *All Hail The King!!!*”

      1. My thoughts … Overall, loved it. I had great fun and am looking forward to seeing Black Panther again in Infinity War, and then finish off with his own trilogy of films.

        … bits and pieces of individual thought-isms, in no particular order …

        Looking at it from just a ‘Marvel superhero movie’ perspective, given how the MCU has been building up through the previous seventeen films it was neither over nor under whelming. (ye gods! seventeen. It’s kinda hard to remember a time before Iron Man. 🙂 )

        The CGI wasn’t all it could be. You’d think they’d would have this down pat by now. But then look at the ‘Super-stache’ debacle.

        The journeys both the hero and villain underwent were filmed as though going through a checklist: Good guy – comes to power, doubts self, loses power, finds self, epic fight with bad guy, regains power. Bad guy – tortured past, wants good guys power, takes good guys power, goes power mad, loses epic fight with good guy, ends up dead. (or incarcerated if they want to use him for a sequel) I don’t know if they even tried to do it any differently than the standard formulae.

        As a visual spectacle it was a stunning treat for the senses.

        As a cultural celebration, it was an ‘affirmation event’, (just as ‘Wonder Woman’ was for women) and it was great to see all the women kick ass. All.The.Time.

        Not growing up in the U.S. my frame of reference for how I approached this movie was different from someone who did, but because of my own emotional response to Wonder Woman, (and being an articulate intelligent member of the human race) I can empathise with, and appreciate how, powerful this film is.

        I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Ulysses Klaue, otherwise we would’ve seen the ‘kill shot’, not just all the ‘nasty revenge hurt-and-maim’ shots. Mind you he did look pretty dead in that body bag.

        I’m disappointed, not surprised, but still disappointed, they dodged around the other-than-hetrosexual canon characters again. But who knows by the time another seventeen MCU films roll around we might have an entire lesbian cast of superheroes. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      2. The simplicity of the plot, the formula, works to the movie’s advantage, I think. Gives it a mythic heft. This is not a superhero film, this is a sci-fi fantasy epic. The world is rich enough, and the characters being introduced so interesting, that a more complicated plot would have created clutter. Black Panther basically has the story of the Lion King, and I actually like that.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words. T’Challa is a leader I wish we had in the real world right now (I loved his speech to the UN in the end credits). I live in RIchmond, and my theater was split pretty evenly between black and white viewers but everyone came out pumped and it was such a great movie and a great theater-going experience.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “You are a good man T’Challa, and it is hard for a good man to be a king.” I’m sure I am paraphrasing, but those were the truest words spoken in the movie.

        On day one, a good leader would do exactly what T’Challa does at the end of the film (pre credits), or at least its real-world analogue. And since no leader ever does, I am forced to conclude something unfortunate about all our leaders. The first post credits scene was not necessary, the point had already been made. But ice cream sundaes are not necessary either. (And I suppose we are setting up Wakanda’s role in Infinity War.)

        Liked by 1 person

  1. You were right Dave! What an amazing and wonderful movie! Nonstop coolness and visual amazement, a wise charismatic hero you wanted to cheer for, a magnetic villain, dark and compelling political intrigue, action kept grounded by emotion and character, and the final blowout battle was even restrained for a movie like this, and did not numb you.

    This IS a “black” film, but only because it is the first film of its kind. It is rooted in African culture, with a mostly black cast, yet was insanely expensive to make, and is aimed at all the masses, of every skin color. And that is more radical that any radical political statement it could have made. Not that this film is apolitical. That would be a very bizarre thing to say. The film is just more interested in awesomeness than ideology.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve got a question… that Stan Lee cameo… was he taking other people’s casino winnings for himself, for “safe keeping”? Was I seeing and hearing correctly? Because if I was, there is only one way to interpret that, and it is hard to believe it was in there.

    Liked by 2 people

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