Haven’t seen Black Panther yet? “Wakanda” do about it? You can get your butt to the theatre and enjoy this movie, that’s what!
“T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T’Challa’s father’s mistake.”
The latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is none other than Black Panther, which was written and directed by Ryan Coogler. It continues the story of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) after the events of Captain America: Civil War, where he is set to become the King of his country Wakanda. After Civil War came out, there were a few standouts of the movie and Boseman and his portrayal of Black Panther was one of them. So when they attached Ryan Coogler to helm his first solo movie, everyone was excited. First things first, the hype surrounding this movie is massive, and I understand that, but this is also a movie, and like every movie, it has flaws. This is important to discuss, because I believe that if people dissect this movie and talk about the good (which there is so much of) but also the flaws, they might fear repercussions. Which isn’t fair, because like most movies, especially comic book movies, they are bound to have flaws in them, it just comes with the territory. So I think it’s best to view the movie as a whole and just enjoy it for what it is. A terrifically directed, well acted Marvel movie, which will please audiences everywhere and make a boatload of money.
What does it take to be King of a nation? What responsibilities comes with it? For T’Challa he is about to find out about all of these things, and what it truly means to be a great ruler and leader of a nation. Going into Black Panther, I knew there would be a strong political message, and strong social commentary, which there was. But Coogler found a way to do it so seamlessly and naturally, that it really tied the movie together. Wakanda is the most technologically advanced country in the world, yet they hide in plain sight. Built on the backbone of Vibranium, they have the means to do so much, but they keep all of these secrets to themselves. They do not help the outside world, and millions of people could use their help. T’Challa is conflicted when he becomes King, because unlike previous rulers, he believes Wakanda can be doing so much more. They have the power and tools to help so many of those that suffer; yet they do nothing, and that starts to eat away at him. This is where Michael B Jordan’s character Killmonger comes into play. You see, he is of Wakandan decent but was raised in America, so he didn’t have all of this technology and a safe space to grow up in. Now an adult, he wonders why they sit back and do nothing, while their kind is struggling in the outside world. So when he challenges T’Challa to the throne, he wants to be King, so he can use their technology to essentially rule the world. Or take back what was rightfully theirs. Michael B Jordan is such a great young talented actor and when he was cast as Killmonger, and I saw he was going to be playing the villain, I knew this had serious potential to be a special performance, it was. He gives a charismatic performance, the best villain since Loki, and the craziest part about Killmonger is, you feel for him. Like I said, he wasn’t raised in the protective bubble that is Wakanda, he was raised in the outside world, and had to deal with all the hardships that come with that. Stuff we know to be true and see everyday on the news, and he is extremely pissed off that they have done nothing about it. So when he shows up in Wakanda and starts asking all of these questions, it makes all the other characters start to question their own beliefs, and that is what makes the movie so damn good. What makes a truly great villain is when he makes the hero question his own belief system and what it means to be a hero, and Killmonger does just that. Because deep down, you kind of believe in what he believes in. Why doesn’t Wakanda help the outside world? Why aren’t they using this incredible technology to help those in need? So you start to see where he’s coming from, but like every great villain, he goes about it the wrong way. He questions the entire existence of Wakanda and what it means to be the world’s most powerful nation, and they start to listen. Michael just gives such a powerful performance, like I knew he would and continues to just knock it out of the park. That brings me to the biggest flaw of the movie, not enough Killmonger. He has such a cool introduction and you are instantly connected to him, then we go about 40 minutes without him. The movie needed more, because whenever he was on screen, you couldn’t look away, and every one of his scenes was intense.
Michael B Jordan isn’t the only standout in this superb cast. Again this movie is being celebrated because of the massive African American cast, which it should be. The movie is so rich in black culture, but Coogler also uses that to build a culture of his own, which is that of Wakanda. The world building here is incredible, and you leave the theatre wanting to see more and to understand more. They could have just said, look at this magical place we have made up, and not given any insight to their beliefs or culture, but they dive so deep into it, you almost begin to think it’s a real place. That is truly the work of a great director. Letitia Wright who plays Shuri, the little sister to T’Challa was the breakout star of this film. She gives one heck of a performance, where she can be fierce and feisty, yet provides some of the biggest laughs in the entire movie. A star making performance in my mind, and I expect to see her in many things down the line. I can’t wait to see her in upcoming MCU movies, because she was so great. The whole cast is awesome, and I know they all had so much fun making this movie together and knew what it would mean to the world. This really is a special movie, during a time when we need a movie like this. Because the themes and the messages behind it are so relevant today, that it makes it that much more important. Marvel could have just made another stereotypical comic book movie. About a guy in a costume and have a ton of stuff blow up. Yes stuff goes boom and there’s a guy in a costume, but it’s about so much more, and that’s why it’s so important.
In the end I really enjoyed Black Panther, it was a fun ride, with plenty of action, the CGI in some parts was a tad underwhelming, but overall it’s was fine. I prefer a better-told story and a strong message behind something than having incredible CGI. Ryan Coogler is now three for three in directing and he’s only 31 years old. That’s a very inspirational thing, seeing someone so young create such incredible movies. He has such a bright future ahead of him, and personally I can’t wait to continue watching him make movies for decades to come.
Check ya later.
Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – Black Panther = 90/10