Black Panther (2018)

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Marvel’s King of Wakanda returns after his appearance in Captain America: Civil War and this structured storyline and driven performances by the cast make this a definitely must in Marvel’s filmography.

T’Challa is the former Prince of Wakanda who is known as the Black Panther. A week after his father’s death from an explosion at the United Nations, it is time for T’Challa to become the new King of Wakanda. The decision is supported by all by M’Baku of the Jibari Tribe, who have been in exile since the first Black Panther was unleashed. When M’Baku challenges T’Challa for the throne, T’Challa defeats his opponent and shows respect to the exiled warrior.

Meanwhile, arms dealer Ulysses Klaue has stolen Wakanda’s most important resource, vibranium, and plans to use it for weapons. He finds a worthy ally in Erik Killmonger, a former soldier who secretly has ties to Wakanda. When Erik’s true intentions are revealed, T’Challa begins to question everything he has experienced in his life when a dark secret is revealed. To make matters worse, CIA agent Everett Ross has learned first hand that Wakanda is not the third-world country he long thought it to be. When the throne of Wakanda is threatened, T’Challa will make a decision that will not only change his life but perhaps that of Wakanda as well.

When the character of Black Panther, first created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in an issue of The Fantastic Four, appeared in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, fans were excited about the appearance of the King of Wakanda. Nearly two years later, under the direction and co-writing of Creed and Fruitvale Station helmer Ryan Coogler, Black Panther has his solo film and it is more than just a typical superhero film.

The film is a welcome meshing of Marvel superhero, emotional tense drama, and life as seen in perhaps, a film from Nigeria (Nollywood), Ghana (Walakiwood), and the likes. Having experienced seeing some of these African films, the film does bring a bit of that element when it comes seeing village life. The film’s emotional content which forms the basis of the story is amazingly great as this is not just a superhero film, but the story of a young king who comes across a series of challenges and obstacles to make his kingdom run right. Even more so, the story does add a dash of perhaps Shakespeare in terms of a dark revelation that could risk the entire kingdom and cause it to fall on its knees.

Chadwick Boseman returns to the role of T’Challa and he does a great job as both an embittered superhero and a king who is trying to keep his kingdom intact when a mysterious newcomer comes to the hidden nation with the most evil intentions. And surprisingly, Michael B. Jordan proves to be that villain in the form of Erik Killmonger, a former military officer who goes from mercenary to something far more worse than anticipated. Lupita Nyogo’o and Danai Gurira provide great support as Nakia, T’Challa’s ex turned spy for the country and lead general and military mentor Okoye.

Letitia Wright’s Shuri proves to be a great little sister to our hero and she and Boseman play each other off so well and Shuri is definitely a Marvel version of James Bond character “Q”, with her technical experience. Daniel Kaluuya, fresh off his star-making turn in Get Out and Winston Duke make the best of their characters of W’Kabi and M’Baku, the latter of who would be known in the comics world as Man-Ape. Angela Bassett also makes the most most of her time as Ramonda, the mother of our King with John Kani appearing in some Lion King-inspired sequences as T’Chaka, the ill-fated father of our hero (see Captain America: Civil War to see the fate of T’Chaka). Forest Whitaker brings some of the tension and spirituality behind the hero as local shaman

How about the action of the film? In a word, spectacular! Despite a few beats of extreme close-ups, the action is generally great. Not only does Black Panther look great in his action sequences with Boseman undergoing training in martial arts by The Protector 2’s Marrese Crump for his fight scenes, there are some great combat sequences, not only from Boseman, but Danai Gurira. Where in The Walking Dead, she wields a katana against the undead, in this film, she proves to be quite handy with the spear. In what can be considered a noble move, whenever T’Challa is challenged to combat, he is forced to lose his power in order to make the challenges fair and this is to clearly see if T’Challa is worthy of keeping the mantle of Black Panther.

So how does Black Panther fare in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? It holds amazingly well as it proves to be more than just a superhero film. Don’t expect anything involving any Infinity stones but expect this as a cool-down before the impending Infinity War. Definitely one of the best in the MCU.

WFG RATING: A

A Marvel Studios production. Director: Ryan Coogler. Producer: Kevin Feige. Writers: Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole; based on the characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Cinematography: Rachel Morrison. Editing: Michael P. Shawver and Debbie Berman.

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyogo’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Andy Serkis, Forest Whitaker, John Kani, Sterling K. Brown, Denzel Whitaker, Florence Kalumba, David S. Lee

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