February 18, 2018 Black Panther (Movie Review)
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has steadily grown over the past decade. With the success of films such as 2008’s Iron Man, 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers, and more recently 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy along with 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, one would think that eventually the well would run dry, right? Wrong, because Marvel still has plenty more to offer moviegoers well into the foreseeable future. In fact, Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures finally put the wheels in motion for the much anticipated Black Panther film.
A project that dates all the way back to 1992, when Wesley Snipes announced his intention to make a film about Black Panther, through the years, various roadblocks put the idea on the backburner. Finally, in January of 2016, production began with Director/Screenwriter Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station 2013, Creed 2015) stepping into the MCU, setting out to create a really outstanding movie that features an excellent cast. Working with Co-writer Joe Robert Cole (American Crime Story series) and Producer Kevin Feige (X-Men 2000, Iron Man 2008), does Black Panther live up to all the hype it has been given?
The eighteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther officially opened in theaters on Friday, February 16, 2018, and reportedly earned an impressive $75.8 million on its first day, which includes an estimated $25.2 million in Thursday previews. If these numbers are accurate, that makes Black Panther the fourth highest superhero movie opening in history. Wow, that is a lot to live up to. So let us get down to the meat of the story.
It all begins with a flashback to centuries ago during a time of war between African tribes over a meteorite called vibranium. One individual was affected by the material, causing him to gain superhuman powers. He is considered the first Black Panther, one who is able to unite all the African tribes into one nation called “Wakanda.” Although, not everyone chose to unite, the Jabari Tribe resisted the Black Panther’s rule and opposed their beliefs and rules. With villagers in Wakanda, they use the vibranium to develop highly advanced technology, deciding to separate themselves from the rest of the world.
Time jump to 1992, King T’Chaka (John Kani: The Ghost and the Darkness 1996, Captain America: Civil War 2016) travels to Oakland, California where Prince N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown: American Crime Story series, This Is Us series) resides. He approaches him explaining that there is an inside man that is secretly sharing high advanced technology with the world so that they all can join forces against Wakanda. T’Chaka accuses N’Jobu of assisting a black market arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis: The Lord of the Rings series, The Planet of the Apes series) to infiltrate Wakanda and steal the vibranium. However, N’Jobu denies, but he does not realize that there was another undercover Wakandan Zuri able to confirm his suspicions.
Flash forward to present day, with T’Chaka deceased, the throne is left for his son T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman: 42 2013, Captain America: Civil War 2016) to take with Okoye (Danai Gurira: The Walking Dead series, All Eyez on Me 2017) by his side. He is also joined by his ex-lover/spy Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o: 12 Years a Slave 2013, The Jungle Book 2016), his mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett: What’s Love Got to Do with It 1993, Master of Nothing series), and his younger sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright: Black Mirror series, The Commuter 2018).
Meanwhile, in London, Klaue and Erik Stevens (Michael B. Jordan: Creed 2015, Fantastic Four 2015) teams up to steal vibranium from a Wakandan artifact at a Museum. T’Challa learns that Klaue is plotting to sell the material and plans to take back what belongs to his city. With the help of Okoye and Nakia, they manage to bring Klaue in for interrogation with the help of C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot 2016, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 2014), however, they are ambushed by Erik. Worst yet, Klaue and Erik are conspiring to destroy Wakanda! Now it is up to the Black Panther to prevent his home from being thrust into a war. With the help of C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross, members of the Dora Milaje, as well as Wakandan special forces, can they prevent disaster?
Overall, Black Panther is a great edition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Like one would expect, it is a jam-packed superhero film with amazing special effects and action sequences. Beyond that, it is a film that allows the audience to become emotionally invested in the characters. The characters are tested, promises are broken, and vengeance is manifested within them. While the pace at times is questionable, it is a complex, yet satisfying movie everyone will love.
Above all, what Black Panther does is actually translate something about the real world, something other stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have failed to do. This very fact could make it one of the best Marvel films to date. That said, Black Panther speaks volumes to all communities about true identity and knowing who you are. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives Black Panther 5 out of 5 stars.