Marvel has reigned as the king of the superhero genre for the past decade, routinely producing entertaining and exciting films that always live up to the hype. The studio famous for superheroes such as Iron Man, Spiderman, Captain America, and the Hulk has struck gold with its most recent release, albeit one about a lesser-known hero, Black Panther.
Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman (who played Jackie Robinson in 42) as T’Challa, the king of the hidden African nation of Wakanda. The Wakanda civilization, more advanced than any in the world, is threatened by two criminals (played by Andy Serkis and Michael B. Jordan) who attempt to steal the precious vibranium that made Wakanda powerful. T’Challa must balance his roles as a king and warrior to protect his civilization.
As king of the Wakanda people, T’Challa is given the title of Black Panther along with a herb that gives him enhanced fighting skills. The action is immensely entertaining throughout as the Black Panther chases and battles his foes, accompanied by a hype-inducing soundtrack that makes every battle extra exciting.
But it is the plot, not the action, that makes this film work as a stellar film and not just a stellar superhero film. The strongest aspect of this movie is the development of the Wakanda civilization, one that starts out as fantastical but as the movie progresses seems more and more realistic and engaging. From a character standpoint, T’Challa is a hero and role model that the audience can truly root for, one that struggles and is challenged but nevertheless always does the right thing. He faces a perfect and compelling foil in Killmonger, who is every bit T’Challa’s equal. The plot is intricate and resonates on multiple levels, while at the same time retaining the excitement any superhero movie needs.
Technically, this movie was fantastic. The CGI animation of the Wakanda civilization, while at times glaringly obvious, was beautiful and the Black Panther suits made the action scenes better to watch. The soundtrack worked well with the action and the acting, from Boseman to the rest of his star-studded supporting cast, was brilliant. It was the type of technical mastery that seems unlikely for a high-grossing superhero flick but made it all the more engaging.
Ultimately, Black Panther was such a fresh and interesting movie because of the deeper issues it explored. I was unfamiliar with many of the cultural aspects the film featured but was nonetheless interested and invested in the Wakanda civilization. Black Panther also featured a black superhero and a mostly black supporting cast and had a black director, all of which made for an authentic film and I found it awesome to see how much the black community embraced this movie and its hero. The plot did not stray from social and racial themes and messages, which made me see issues from new perspectives.
Black Panther lived up to the hype as one of the best all-around movies of the year and, in my opinion, the best Marvel movie we’ve seen yet. Beyond its entertaining fight scenes and flawless production, Black Panther proved that even superhero movies can pack a strong punch.