Not knowing how much control Ryan Coogler would get to make the kind of movie that he’s capable of making had me worried about how Black Panther would turn out. The guy is a great young filmmaker with loads of ability, but Marvel has always controlled a great deal of the movies that have come out. This made me unable to completely trust what was being put before me, but my worries were soothed not too long into it and were fully removed long before the film reached its conclusion.
Soon after the events of Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to Wakanda, the advanced African nation he’s called home all of his life. As he looks to officially take his rightful place as king in the face of civil unrest, an old enemy appears and draws him into a conflict like no other. Now faced with danger from multiple angles, the new king must fight to survive as the fate of Wakanda and all it has stood for lay in the balance.
As you know, comedy has become more and more of a staple of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While some have loved it every step of the way, people like me have felt that this particular element hasn’t worked well on a consistent basis as a good portion of the jokes are flat, sophomoric and sometimes completely miss. Although it was a decent movie, that’s one of the things that prevented Thor: Ragnarok from being great.
Needless to say, this new direction had me worried about Black Panther as well, but the comedy here is actually much better since it’s utilized properly. Where the jokes in Ragnarok were often out-of-place and simply unfunny, the comedy seen and heard here harmoniously meshes with the characters, their relationships with one another and the situations that they find themselves in over the course of the movie. It also helps that what’s supposed to be funny usually is funny or at the very least, amusing.
The two components that give this movie the ability to stand as tall as it does are the story and the characters that I just touched on. To look further into the characters that we meet and get reacquainted with, I’ll focus in on Michael B. Jordan first. The spotlight has to be placed on him for a couple of reasons. We all know that he’s already proven to be a good actor in his own right, but he also represents growth for the entire MCU.
Including myself, many have often criticized these films for having bad, forgettable or irrelevant villains. In spite of how good some of these movies are, the rivals who stand against these heroes haven’t been worth mentioning until now. With Michael B. Jordan’s Erik “Killmonger” Stevens, we don’t get the same problems that we’ve had before. In fact, he is the most well-developed antagonist that we’ve ever seen in not only the Marvel movies, but out of every comic book movie from both the MCU and whatever they’re calling the DC movies these days.
As you’ll find out, Jordan’s Killmonger is a more than worthy adversary to Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa. He also comes with a fantastic back story that makes him the kind of understandable villain that we don’t often see in film. Because of this, he serves as a wonderful foil who helps takes this story to depths that I didn’t think we’d see in a Marvel movie from a personal and emotional standpoint.
This alone helps turn Black Panther into a complete cinematic experience even though there are plenty of other positives that are at play. Of course, one of the features that brings this up to such a high level is the story itself. Killmonger’s story is intertwined with just about all that is going on in the movie. This helps us to see just how well everything was written and fleshed out. And as someone who appreciates a carefully crafted, fully developed film, this approach was more than welcome.
And in order to not ignore everyone else who played a part in making this what it is, I have to point out that Jordan is not alone as far as talent is concerned both in front of and behind the camera. Led by Boseman, the actors who are here represent a mixture of young up and comers blending in with savvy and experienced veterans who each seem to get their chance to standout amongst the crowd. For a film with this many characters, that should be difficult to do, but Ryan Coogler was up for the challenge.
Throughout all of this, there’s a touch of Marvel spread throughout Black Panther. That is to be expected, but right from the very beginning, it’s clear to see that this is actually a Ryan Coogler film. This was something that I wasn’t too sure about since Marvel has been known to run things a certain way as you’ve probably noticed that many of these movies feel the same with the exception of some occasional alterations that were made in order to separate the journeys of these heroes that have come beforehand
Thankfully, we got a film where Kevin Feige decided to have the director make the kind of movie he has shown to be able to produce in the not too distant past. I think this is why Marvel may continue to do as well as it has been. They’re bringing in fresh faces with impressive track records that will give them an opportunity to create films that are unique while remaining a part of the overall picture.
They could have tried to stick with the exact same formula they’ve been using for nearly ten years, but that would eventually become too stale and lose steam. Changing things up even just a little bit will allow these movies to continue to add new dimensions and remain fresh even if there’s still some amount of familiarity. If that’s the case, and they’re able to pull it off, we could be in store for a very long reign in theaters that would be unprecedented in the world of cinema.
As far as problems are concerned, the only issue that I have with the movie comes from some of the CGI. This problem mostly shows itself during a couple of the major fights scenes. There are times when it’s obvious that these aren’t humans pulling off certain moves, and that was a bit bothersome. However, none of it took me out of the movie or anything. Maybe if the rest of what was being showcased wasn’t so strong, this stuff would have gotten to me more.
Other than that, there really isn’t anything wrong with this movie. In fact, I feel completely comfortable saying that Black Panther is one of the best films to come out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Coogler at the helm working with what’s already been established, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that this movie delivered in the kind of way that most would likely hope it would.
Director: Ryan Coogler
Michael B. Jordan
Sterling K. Brown
Film Length: 140 minutes
Release Date: February 16, 2018
Distributor: Marvel Studios
- Score - 8.5/108.5/10