Black Panther (2018)

black panther poster 2018 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Solid cast and layered social story

Some characters needed more development, some visuals were lacking, MCU could ruin a sequel

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Black Panther

Studio:   Marvel Studios

Genre(s):   Comic Book/Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Drama

Release Date(s):   January 28, 2018 (Premiere)/February 13, 2018 (UK)/February 16, 2018 (US)

MPAA Rating:   PG-13

black panther vs killmonger ending michael b jordan chadwick boseman

Oh no! You have my powers just like every Marvel movie!!!

King T’Chaka (John Kani) is dead, and now his son T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is faced with the heavy burden of ruling the secret African kingdom of Wakanda.  When terrorist and smuggler Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) resurfaces, T’Challa finds himself duty bound to retrieve him with Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), but Klaue has a hidden ally in a man named Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) whose secret past could destroy Wakanda forever!  T’Challa must summon all the powers of the Black Panther forever if he hopes to save himself, his family, and his people!

Directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther is a feature length action-adventure film based upon the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby character who premiered in Fantastic Four #52 in July 1966 (and is recognized as the first African superhero in a mainstream comic).  The film follows the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Thor:  Ragnarok from November 2017 and was released to massive box office response and positive reviews.  The film was won Academy Awards for Best Original Score, Best Production Design, and Best Costume Design with nominations for Best Picture, Best Original Song (“All the Stars”),  Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing, .

black panther shuri nakia lupita nyongo letitia wright

Come on…let’s steal the show from the Black Panther!

Black Panther premiered in the MCU in Captain America:  Civil War, but you really don’t need to see that movie (or any Marvel movie) to enjoy it.  The events of the movie are recapped in Black Panther (though the timeline is a little fuzzy with him joining the effort to bring in Bucky).  With all the hype leading into Black Panther, I was really worried that the movie wouldn’t live up to the press, but it turned out to be a fun movie with few faults.

The plot of the movie is the movie’s strong point because it isn’t afraid to raise a bunch of ethical and social questions without beating you over the head with them.  There are ideas about the role of a country in the world (with Wakanda feeling more like the U.S. with all its gifts and an isolationist view), family vs. country, race issues, and issues within races, and other ideas are all explored in a way that feels quite seamless.  The movie (like other Marvel movies) does provide a villain with literally the same powers for Black Panther to combat, but the build-up of Killmonger does distinguish him better than many of Marvel’s duplicate villains.

black panther man ape mbaku

Don’t call me Man-Ape!!!

The cast is strong and likable.  While Chadwick Boseman is the star of the movie, he’s rather overshadowed by his supporting cast.  There is a trio of strong female lead characters in Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Letitia Wright, but unfortunately Angela Bassett’s role is rather small and undistinguished.  Winston Duke gets some laughs as M’Baku (who developed into a more rounded character from his quasi-racist “Man-Ape” ego in the comics).  Forest Whitaker plays the “wise” Zuri but I didn’t feel Denzel Whitaker (no relation) looked very much like a young Forest Whitaker since we’ve seen Whitaker grow up on screen.  Andy Serkis’ Ulysses Klaue seemed a bit like fodder for the story which developed more around him in the comic, but Daniel Kaluuya’s character is a little weak and wishy-washy as well…he needed more development.  The real scene stealer is Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger whose complex backstory (though Jordan isn’t as old as the movie implies) really gives direction to the moral questions of the film.

black panther killmonger wkabi michael b jordan daniel kaluuya

Maybe Killmonger used a teacup on him…all Black Panther has to say is “he worked with Klaue” and the revolution is over…

The movie also poses an interesting question visually.  The superhero aspects of the movie are average if not a little underdeveloped in comparison with modern special effects, but question of what an African culture would look like that grew up independent (or at least relatively uninfluenced) by Eastern or Western philosophy.  Wakanda is an interesting setting for the character in that I’d wish we’d get to see more of the country and how it functions…like how they determine who gets stuck with the rotten job of watching the sheep and rhinos?

Black Panther was a fun Marvel movie because it was a different Marvel movie.  It felt new and independent of the story and that is going to be the problem facing it as it moves forward.  Like comic books, Black Panther is going to be sucked into the “Big Event” syndrome of Avengers:  Infinity War so a sequel to this film will likely be affected by that more than the events of Black Panther which is unfortunate.  I’d rather see a pure sequel to Black Panther, but T’Challa and Marvel return in Avengers:  Infinity War in April of 2018, and Black Panther was followed by a sequel Black Panther:  Wakanda Forever in 2022 which dealt with the death of Chadwick Boseman.

Related Links:

Captain America:  Civil War (2016)

Avengers:  Infinity War (2018)

Black Panther:  Wakanda Forever (2022)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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