Black Panther Review (Spoiler-Free)

Jason O’Toole

Credit: Marvel Studios

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It’s impossible to deny, Black Panther has arrived and blown audiences away. The film continues to break records every week. It has already shattered the February single weekend record previously held by Deadpool. It has also taken down Avengers, which up until now held the record for biggest opening week. Black Panther, in just its first week, has taken the worldwide gross for the MCU to 14 billion, tracking all the way back to 2008 when Iron Man first came to the screen. Among the many standout moments from the film, a few things really speak to why this movie is one of the best MCU outings to date. Wakanda is presented in glorious fashion, as if ripped right from the pages of the comic. Also, while Chadwick Boseman is fantastic as T’Challa, it is the supporting cast that really shines. Finally, the films villain, Erik Killmonger, is a definite contender for best MCU villain to date.

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In the world of Black Panther comics, Wakanda is left to the imagination of the artists. The technological marvels and beautiful vistas are a sight to behold and it was hard to believe these things could be accurately represented on the big screen. Ryan Coogler and Marvel Studios had their work cut out for them to bring this location to life, and they delivered in a big way. From the first moment we see Wakanda’s capital city, it is clear that the filmmakers have done something very special. The blend of the technological and traditional becomes a character in and of itself within the film’s narrative. This is only heightened by the soundtrack which makes every scene come to life. The five tribes of Wakanda are clearly distinguished, even when they are all part of the same crowd. Their manner of dress make it very easy to distinguish between the panther tribe, the border tribe, the mining tribe, the river tribe and the merchant tribe. Wakanda is definitely one of the best locales the MCU has showed us so far. We don’t have long to wait before we get to take another trip there, as Avengers Infinity War will take us back in May for a battle against the legions of Thanos.

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Making his debut in Captain America Civil War, T’Challa takes center stage in this film. However, his fellow cast-mates steal the show right out from under him. Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as General Okoye and Letitia Wright as T’Challa’s little sister Shuri are at the top of their game here. Nakia as a love interest to T’Challa never feels forced, it feels natural. She cares very deeply for Wakanda and, as an extension of that, her King. The Dora Milaje have in Okoye a competent skilled leader, whose loyalty to Wakanda never falters. Danai Gurira has shown off her fighting chops in the Walking Dead, and while she gets plenty of time to fight, she also provides some welcome levity to her scenes with the serious King T’Challa. The character who shines far and above the rest is Letitia Wright’s version of Shuri, princess of Wakanda. She is a breath of fresh air in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and one of my new favorite characters. This film has an all star cast that delivers dynamite performances from start to finish.

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At last, we come to what is arguably the best aspect of this movie, Michael B. Jordan’s villain, Erik Killmonger. An argument can be made that he is one of the best villains the MCU has ever put on screen. What makes him so fantastic is how grounded and relatable he is. In most MCU films the villain is someone you love to hate. Black Panther flips the script and makes you sympathize with the antagonist and his views. Michael B. Jordan delivers an all star performance, which he has become known for, and becomes the perfect foil to Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther. If the hero is defined by the villain, then Killmonger is the villain that defines Wakanda and Black Panther. These are just a few of the reasons Black Panther is a must see MCU film and may very well be the best movie they have made to date. Leave us a comment about what you thought of the film.

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