The Black Panther is another solid member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, delivering a fun, action-packed movie that has a story that is grounded in the fate of colored (specifically, African/Black) people.
Taking us to the fictional nation of Wakanda, the Black Panther reveals to us a hidden world. An old power of immense technological sophistication, yet firmly grounded in ancient tradition and spirituality, Wakanda shows us a place and people who have balanced these things which seem to be at such odds in the rest of the world. Central to this nation of Wakanda is its king, the titular Black Panther, who ostensibly rules over five tribes.
Unlike most of the other superhero movies in the franchise, the Black Panther‘s tone is quite different. It is very clearly set in a foreign land with deep cultural roots, and this comes out in the kind of story that is told. T’Challa, the son of the previous king, is swept up in the time of transition, which gives an opportunity to certain enemies to affect Wakanda‘s fate. The villains here – Killmonger (and Klaue) – are not quite as clear-cut evil in their motivations, as in most other superhero movies, which makes them much more nuanced.
Chadwick Boseman does well in continuing the mantle of the Black Panther, letting us see the true face of the new king of Wakanda. The rest of the Wakandans, namely Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), are solid and entertaining in their portrayals of their characters. T’Challa‘s sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright) is a delight to watch, and the redoubtable Forest Whitaker takes up the role of veteran advisor Zuri. Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) highlights typical American “arrogance” for the Wakandans, though how his views may change towards the end of the story is interesting. Klaue (Andy Serkis) was also fun to watch as a mostly unhinged terrorist/criminal who wants to expose Wakanda. Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) as a villain had some good scenes, but I felt the storyline didn’t quite do his character justice.
Nonetheless, the movie shines spectacularly in its world-building. Despite having limited background in African culture, there seemed to be a good variation in music inspired by African/Black culture – with the iconic Black Panther/Wakanda theme coming out in many scenes. Design for the attire was also interesting, as African culture is often depicted to be rather impoverished, so it was refreshing to see how a wealthy, sophisticated African superpower could have developed. Lastly, we are treated to a feast of sceneries which display majestic African landscapes and architecture (both futuristic and traditional).
In summary – Black Panther is one of the higher notes in the MCU, particularly with its change of pace in story and setting, bringing us back into a more grounded, yet different, earth. Highly recommended.