Black Panther is a 2018 superhero film directed by Ryan Coogler based on a comic book character by the same name and is the 18th film in the illustrious Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is set in a Post-Captain America 3 context and centers on T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), his return to Wakanda after the death of his father T’Chaka (John Kani) and his assumption of the mantle of King. His transition to primacy, however, is not to sail by smoothly as he undergoes grueling trials and tribulations that are majorly orchestrated by an enraged and spiteful nemesis in Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) who threatens to challenge for the throne that he strongly believes is his birthright.
In all honesty, I have to admit that in as much as I was really looking forward to seeing this film, I was a bit skeptical on how it would eventually turn out in the final cut and now that I have seen it, I am insanely impressed. First off, let’s focus on the amazing cast. Chadwick Boseman’s performance as the Wakandan King is nothing short of spectacular; the African accent was spot on and his character had a lot of depth and grit. Additionally, I could say that the one thing that really made me immerse myself into his life’s happenings is the fact that he is not a spoilt brat living a lavish life with all the wealth he possesses as many royals in fan fiction are portrayed; instead he is is a laid-back ruler with good principles and an ability to use his genius-level intellect to enact decisions that he feels is for the betterment of his people. Another character I strongly connected with was Erik Killmonger; make no mistake, he is not your average villain. In fact, I put Michael B. Jordan’s representation of the revered Black Panther adversary up there in my list of best live adaptations of comic book villains alongside the Late Heath Ledger’s “Joker” and Liam Neeson’s “Ra’as al Ghul”. Despite the fact that he is unforgiving and brutal in his pursuit of greatness, you the viewer will tend to see his point of view judging by his upbringing. Based on Jordan’s on-screen attributes that I have been keeping tabs on for a while, I think I am now starting to get the hang of why these Director-Actor movie collaborations work. In recent years, we’ve seen Jaume Collet-Serra and Liam Neeson, Christopher Nolan and Michael Caine and now we have Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan who previously worked together in 2015’s blockbuster Creed.
It would, of course, be a great abomination not to mention the strong women in this movie. Lupita Nyong’o is phenomenal in this film and frankly I’ve never been more proud to be Kenyan; her character has a history with T’Challa and throughout the runtime of the movie, you are fed bits and pieces of the past that she shares with the then prince and you can put them together and make meaning of it. The Dora Milaje under the unwavering stewardship of Okoye (Danai Gurira) play a massive role in the plot of this motion picture. They are an elite feminine force who are sworn protectors of the Wakandan kingship and all the depictions by the actresses that include, among others Florence Kasumba as Ayo, quite rightly stay true to the ideals that the comic book version of the troop hold.
From a directorial standpoint, Ryan Coogler had his work cut out having not done a movie of this genre before but all the same, his outstanding vision of the land of Wakanda that the cinematography team exceptionally lay out is something to marvel; no pun intended. I also loved the Production design, specifically during the scenes featuring the Wakandan tribal council; the amount of detail that went into the room’s design, as well as the African attire, is mind-boggling.
Nonetheless, I indeed have some issues with this film; it is not without flaws. A fair few scenes, more so the final battle, are just simply laden with too much CGI; I firmly feel that the editing could have been done much better. Furthermore, there is a sub-plot involving T’Challa and W’kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) that seemed so rushed, confusing and profoundly unnecessary; I would explain it in more detail in this review but it’s a spoiler in itself and I most certainly would not want to ruin your cinematic experience. Finally, Winston Duke’s character does not get as much screen time as I thought he would coming into this film. He plays M’Baku; the ruler of the Jabari tribe who in the comics famously slew a menacing mountain gorilla. The moment I saw him lift a human being with one arm in the trailer I knew I wanted to see more of him, but my wish was sadly not granted.
Be that as it may, Black Panther is a cinematic beauty and a compelling setup for the much anticipated M.C.U film that is Avengers; Infinity War. It is an incredible story brought to life by exceptional actors/actresses and directed by a superb director in Ryan Coogler.