I don’t even know where to start! Often, I believe that is either the sign of a good review or a bad one but I frankly don’t know where to start but I suppose it’s best to start out with the simplest fact: Black Panther is damn good! Not perfect, but damn good.
The film starts out a week after the events of Civil War, with T’Challa picking up his on-again, off-again girlfriend Nakia on his way home to the technologically advanced and isolated nation of Wakanda, to ascend the throne. T’Challa will inherit the mantle of the chieftain and protector of his homeland, but in this film, he will also inherit the sins of his father.
One in the form of a fugitive that has eluded Wakandan capture for decades in Ulysses Klaue and the other in the form of an American black-ops soldier named Erik Stevens, whose career has dubbed him the moniker of Killmonger. Both foes present a challenge for T’Challa as he must navigate between upholding his father’s legacy and creating his own.
I’ve waited a long time to see this movie but it was worth it for I truly enjoyed what I saw. Ryan Coogler has crafted a film that not only carries on the already incredible momentum that Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is riding but also a film that feels so organically original and independent from Marvel’s grand design. What’s more is that the film itself is a rock-solid foundation for what’s to come of Chadwick Boseman’s character; this is probably the first true MCU origin story I enjoyed since Iron Man!
Having said all of that, I did find that Black Panther left too many aspect of its story unresolved. Perhaps that was intentionally designed by Coogler and screenwriter Joe Robert Cole so that those unanswered questions can be answered in a future Marvel picture or in a Black Panther sequel but the fact that so many open-ended details in this story were left behind just hampered my enjoyment of the film that and that held Black Panther back just a little.
Despite a story that left its share of loose ends, this movie had everything it needed to succeed. Great direction that really gave this character and this movie a strong sense of identity and independence in this grand universe, an amazing cast spearheaded by Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Angela Bassett, Daniel Kaluuya, Andy Serkis, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, John Kani and Florence Kasumba, great visual effects, the pacing was steady, the action and humor was balanced; Black Panther is another product of the Marvel machine but it has its own unforgettable flavor.
Rachel Morrison’s cinematography is superb, Debbie Berman and Michael P. Shawver’s editing couldn’t be more on point, Ludwig Göransson’s music melded the right blend of superheroic theme with African influence and the soundtrack compiled by Grammy winner Kendrick Lamar was superb, Hannah Beachler’s production design was outstanding, the art direction was beautifully conceived, Ruth Carter’s costumes were stupendous and beautiful, I could tell that a lot of love went into the production of this picture to get this iconic character and his world exactly right and they did it! They truly did it.
Can I say this is the best film to come out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? No, but what I can take away is that Ryan Coogler built Black Panther a rock solid foundation to build on for future films. Hail to the king!