Marvel Studios… how do you do it?
Every single time I even start to believe that the Marvel Machine is running out of gas, I am proven wrong in the best way possible.
From the very first time I saw the trailer for Black Panther, I knew it would be great. Chadwick Boseman was the man in Civil War and I was eagerly waiting his next big screen appearance. After leaving the theater on Thursday evening it became abundantly clear that I underestimated exactly how great this film would be. We’re taking some real cinematic triumph type stuff if you know what I mean.
Alright. Let’s get to it!
I’ll briefly highlight the story for you. T’Challa (Boseman) is the newly crowned King of Wakanda whose is out to prove himself a worthy leader to his people, while at the same time conquering the challenges that come with being the Black Panther. Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), the antagonist, is an outsider on a mission to seize the kingdom’s throne. And FYI – this is a spoiler free review. Just know there are a bunch of them I purposely left out of this section. Everything is there, action, a love interest, comic relief, betrayal, plot twists, memorable characters, and vibranium, a whole lot of vibranium. It’s a classic good vs evil movie with textbook Save The Cat structure that in an era of superhero dominance, feels incredibly fresh.
When it comes to properly setting the table for a story, Black Panther gave us a solid introduction to the world of Wakanda. A little history told via voice over and morphing sand bringing everyone up to speed as to the importance and significance of this character and his home. Wakanda is presented as a third world nation, only behind the Wonder Woman-esque curtain lies an ultra advanced society capable of anything. Once you get the lay of the land I felt events were presented in a clear manner which helped the audience bond with our heroes as well as understand the reasoning behind their actions. This left minimal room for plot holes though I’m sure the hardcore fanboys whose sole desire is bitching will find a couple.
Let’s talk the stars!
Lupita Nyong’o was T’Challa’s primary love interest in a “will they or won’t they” that offers way more than the typical damsel in distress. She’s strong, quick to speak her mind, even to a king, and when the time comes to kick some ass, she kicks that ass. Wait until the end.
Danai Gurira plays General Okoye, a fiercely loyal soldier who could have easily stolen the movie. She has a tenacity about her that is unmatched, by far the film’s true enforcer. A total boss. Okoye is in a relationship with W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya, the dude from Get Out) and it’s put to the ultimate test when the battle breaks out.
Shuri, T’Challa’s sister, portrayed by the amazingly charming Letitia Wright, is the show stealer. While most of her heroism takes place in a lab, she gets her moment to shine in combat too. Do not underestimate the charm factor, she’s hilarious and we get plenty of opportunities to fall in love with the character. We do, almost immediately. You will be talking about her on the way home.
Michael B. Jordan is our villain Erik Killmonger. Over the years Jordan has grown to be a legitimate actor who brings the wood to each performance. Black Panther is no different. His take on the antagonist comes with a fire and intensity only he could bring. By the final act you are really starting to feel his pain. He was the perfect counterpart to our hero, a polar opposite, an ultimate foe, until the sequel anyway. And yes, there will be a sequel.
Chadwick Boseman, if I could kneel before you I would. Way to knock this one out of the park. When the time comes to pick a new face of the MCU, I’d cast a vote for you in a heartbeat.
Boseman is 41, hope I look that half as good when I get to be his age.
Here’s a couple random thoughts:
Director Ryan Coogler, I hope to see more of your work very soon. Black Panther combined the fantasy elements of a superhero movie while bridging the gap to the real world like none other. It was raw when it had to be and fun when the emotional scenes came to an end. Just what you want out of a blockbuster.
Black Panther doesn’t work to be funny. Not too many jokes being thrown around but when a humorous event happens, you know it. Hire funny actors instead of relying on the writing.
Really like the rest of the supporting cast. Andy Serkis and Forrest Whitaker being the most noteworthy. There are no throw away characters, even the small roles are of significance.
Wakanda is the best MCU setting we’ve seen so far and the balance between the primitive and the technologically advanced worked so well on screen. Not tacky at all.
If I could name one thing to be improved, it’s going to be difficult, but I’m going to go with soundtrack use. Kendrick Lamar curated what could easily be the album of the year and we only hear three song or so from it. Think about how good this movie is if the one thing I can complain about is not using the soundtrack enough.
Alright Marvel, you did it, again. Reinvented the genre, again. Gave us another blockbuster guaranteed to make a Scrooge McDuck vault full of money, again. How do you do it? Kevin Feige, I hope one day you write a tell all book explaining the details in creating such an amazing achievement such as the MCU. Let us take a stroll through that mind of yours.
Together we’ll explore possible theories behind Marvel’s success in a later piece but until then… GET TO THE THEATER!!!
Don’t be the person who hasn’t seen this movie.
Nerdbot Rating: 9.0 out of 10
By Adam Chmielewski
Photo Credits- Disney
Did you like Black Panther? Let Nerdbot know in the comments!!