To call Marvel’s Black Panther groundbreaking is a decent opening description, but it doesn’t fully encapsulate the importance of this comic book-inspired superhero movie. Black Panther’s a film that arrives at just the exact moment in time that it’s needed, a film that not only showcases a black superhero but surrounds that titular character with a talented ensemble of black actors.
Black Panther’s important and timely, but more than that it’s a hugely entertaining film. Co-writer/director Ryan Coogler must have had a huge weight on his shoulders bringing this origin story to life on the screen, but that’s not obvious from the beautifully crafted world he’s created with this entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are, of course, the requisite elements of a Marvel superhero film including massive CGI action sequences within Black Panther. But where Coogler excels is in delivering relatable, engaging characters within this fantastical world. With Black Panther’s script, he’s created a culture and a world that’s fascinating to viewers of all ages, both males and females, and all nationalities.
The film’s arriving in theaters on a tide of overwhelmingly positive advance reviews and with massive box office expectations. It earned those early positive reviews not based on its historical importance, but based on the quality of the script, the effects, and the acting led by Chadwick Boseman in the titular role.
Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther was introduced in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, giving audiences the first chance to judge Boseman’s take on the popular character. And now with this solo film, Boseman fully owns the role, capturing the character’s strength, determination, and fierce sense of duty to his fellow Wakandans. Coogler’s script also provided Boseman with the opportunity for lighter moments in scenes with T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri, played by scene-stealer Letitia Wright. But it’s in the more dramatic scenes that Boseman shines and solidifies the fact he’s the perfect choice to take on this beloved comic book character.
Black Panther is loaded with strong female characters who not only go toe-to-toe physically with male fighters but also emerge victorious in those brutal battles. Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong’o are outstanding and will join the list of female Marvel role models – a list that, unfortunately, isn’t as a lengthy as it should be by this point in time.
Coogler assembled an impressive supporting cast that includes Michael B. Jordan (reuniting with Coogler after working together on Creed and the critically acclaimed Fruitvale Station), Martin Freeman, Angela Bassett, Sterling K. Brown, Forest Whitaker, Winston Duke, Andy Serkis, and current Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out). There’s so much talent in front of the camera, yet Coogler managed to provide each of these actors with characters who, although some are on the screen a very short of time, have an impact on the storyline.
Ryan Coogler was the right filmmaker to guide Black Panther. What he created with his talented cast and behind the scenes team feels fresh and original. Although it resides within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it has a flow to it that’s unique and captivating.
Release Date: February 16, 2018
Running Time: 134 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief rude gesture
The Plot: Marvel Studios’ Black Panther follows T’Challa (Boseman) who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.