» Blog Archive Review: Black Panther Lifts The Curtain Off Wakanda -

black_panther 1Black Panther is the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to feature a black actor in the titular role, as well as the first to feature a predominantly black cast of characters to it. You probably knew that by now, what with all of the promotion and unfathomable amount of hype this movie has going for it. It’s inescapable, but can you blame yourself? The feel is sleek and stylish, and the sci-fi heavy African setting lends itself to be different kind of superhero film from what we’ve seen before. “Different,” however, is not synonymous with “perfect.” Still, while flaws are apparent,  what the film gets right is enough to make this a noteworthy addition to the MCU as a whole and not just another superhero blockbuster.

Chadwick Boseman reprises his role as Prince (Soon to be king) T’Challa, where we pick up with him roughly a week following the events of his introduction in Captain America: Civil War. While not an origin story to him becoming the Black Panther, defender of his home city Wakanda, the story is an origin to him becoming king and the challenge posed to his right to the throne. There’s recon missions, large-scale battles, and car chases across moving vehicles, all intertwined with the burdens that kings face, social commentary on African Americans and xenophobia, and conflicting moral obligation that make Black Panther a thematically packed film. It’s bursting at the seams, and because of that Black Panther faces its major issue: its run time.

All of which I mentioned above is packed into your typical MCU/Disney blockbuster length of two hours and fifteen minutes. Black Panther doesn’t overstay its welcome  but actually leaves too soon for its contents to breathe naturally. Characters like Killmonger black panther 3(Played excellently by Michael B. Jordan as you should expect) are fleshed out and given enough for their point and perils to be sympathized, yet plot points such as relations between two side characters, a supposed rivalry between two tribes, and the general identity of Wakanda are underdeveloped when another 15-20 minutes of the movie could have been spent fleshing all of this out effectively. I can tell you what Knowhere in Guardians of the Galaxy is like because it has character, but most of the time you’re seeing Wakanda from skyscraper windows or ships flying over it. I felt more immersed in Sakaar from Thor: Ragnarok than I did with Wakanda, and that’s unfortunately disappointing to reflect upon.

What is there, however, is very well handled and help brings the film to life in ways that one would expect to be. Boseman is solid as T’Challa and Jordan is excellent as Killmonger, but it’s the supporting cast that really livens the movie up and shapes it. Lupita Nyong’o serves as T’Challa’s love interest, Nakia, who urges him to progress Wakanda out of the shadows of the world, while Letitia Wright plays his sister Shuri. Shuri is a standout character in the film, seeing as she is responsible for all off the tech that T’Challa utilizes, but also for a grand majority of Wakanda as well. She has some jokes that don’t land, but for the most part she works as a character, one specifically I am excited to see interact with other tech-based characters like Tony Stark and Peter Parker.

black panther 2Director Ryan Coogler was an excellent choice as director, to the surprise of nobody. Being only his third film, it’s amazing to see a young director with such talent helm a superhero movie along the ranks of other MCU names such as the Russo Brothers, James Gunn, and (most recently) Taika Waititi. While I found Creed to be him at his best, Black Panther is an exceptionally directed film, solidifying him as one of the best working directors today. Should, for whatever reason, Coogler wish to move to a different hero, I’d love to see him handle a Captain America film, or even a James Bond film in the future on a non-Marvel project.

Despite being condensed into an unfit run time, (And possibly some technical shortcomings) Black Panther is another solid addition to the MCU. 18 films in and dead center in Phase Three, it’s no surprise that we’re still going full steam ahead with this into Infinity War. Whatever comes during and after it, though, feels just a bit bigger knowing that Black Panther is finally here as he was meant to be all along.

Black Panther is now playing everywhere.

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