Reel Reviews: Black Panther

Reel Reviews / Josh Simpkins

Since the inception of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the MCU has been teasing us with Black Panther Easter eggs. At the end of Iron Man 2, Nick Fury brings Tony Stark to a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. warehouse to discuss the Avengers initiative. One of the maps prominently displayed is a map of Africa with a little pinpoint to the whereabouts of Wakanda. In Captain American: The First Avenger Howard Stark introduces us to Vibranium with Cap’s first battle-shield. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Vibranium is further explored and Bruce Banner mispronounces Wakanda. Then, the Panther fully bared his claws in Captain America: Civil War. So, it would seem that a Black Panther film was inevitable. It took some time, but Marvel Studios has finally delivered with director Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther—starring Chadwick Boseman (Marshall), Michael B. Jordan (Creed), Danai Gurira (All Eyez on Me), Forest Whitaker (The Forgiven), Andy Serkis (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Martin Freeman (Carnage: Swallowing the Past), and Winston Duke (in his feature film debut).

Black Panther follows T’Challa (Boseman) who, after the events of Captain America: Civil War, returns home to Wakanda, the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. His coronation is an eventful ceremony, overseen by Zuri (Whitaker), a shaman and the keeper of the heart-shaped plant the grants the king the power of the Black Panther. Things go well until a challenge to T’Challa’s throne comes from M’Baku (Duke), chief of a mountainous clan that shuns technology. After a ceremonial battle, T’Challa is victorious and goes on a journey to the spirit plane to commune with his ancestors. Warned by his father that a king must surround himself with trustworthy people for the crown is heavy, T’Challa returns from his expedition to himself challenged for the throne from factions within his own country.

When two foes, Insane smuggler Ulysses Klaue (Serkis) and deadly clandestine agent Erik Killmonger (Jordan), conspire to destroy T’Challa, Wakanda is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of the secluded nation and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies, gain the allegiance of old enemies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life. Events force T’Challa and General Okoye (Gurira) commander of the Dora Milaje—Wakandan special forces—to trust and team up with outsider C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross (Freeman), to prevent Killmonger from using Wakanda to start the next world war.

Black Panther is unlike any other superhero film that has come before it. The core story isn’t a new one, but writer and director Ryan Coogler puts a fresh spin on the themes. The thing is, I truly expected Black Panther to blow me away as it seems to have done the rest of the critical world, it didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very good film, one of Marvel Studio’s best, but it wasn’t great the way that Spiderman: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok are great. I can’t say there was something missing, but I can say that the film didn’t seem to resonate with every member of the audience. Despite this, Black Panther’s Box Office numbers are not hurting in any way, and the film truly is entertaining and enjoyable. That being said, I recommended heading on over to your local cinema and giving Black Panther a shot. Now go have some fun at the movies.

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