“Black Panther” Review – Spoilers!

Marvel’s latest movie, Black Panther, was released last weekend to wide acclaim and positive reviews. We were introduced to the titular character in Captain America: Civil War, but to be honest, I didn’t know much about T’Challa or his kingdom, the fictional Wakanda. Chadwick Boseman plays King T’Challa, the Black Panther.

This movie was amazing. I’m probably going to see it again to take my twelve year brother, Jake. Everything about it was just awesome. The acting was superb, but the winners here are Michael B. Jordan as the villain Killmonger, Andy Serkis as another villain Klaue, Danai GUrira as the fierce and loyal general Okoye and Lupita Nyong’o as T’Challa’s former love Nakia.

Wakanda may be fictional, but it felt very real, along with its people. Wakanda appears to the outside world as a third world country but is actually years advanced in technology, medicine, and science. They are a self sufficient people, relying on no one. They have an abundance of a meteorite called vibranium which has allowed them to become so advanced. They do not want their society to become like the rest of the world, a stance that was supported by T’Challa’s father, T’Chaka.

The movie begins back in the ’90s, during T’Chaka’s reign. He is in Los Angeles, where his brother N’Jobu is undercover. He suspects N’Jobu of conspiring with an arms dealer Klaue to provide him with vibranium. Another undercover Wakandan, Zuri, confirms this. It ends with T’Chaka ordering N’Jobu to return. Then, we are taken back to the beginning of T’Challa’s reign, after the events of Civil War where his father died in a terrorist attack on the United Nations. T’Challa and General Okoye, the head of the Dora Milaje which is the protective services of the king, go on a mission to extract Nakia from an undercover mission so that she may attend T’Challa’s coronation. Soon we meet T’Challa’s mother, Ramonda (Angela Bassett), and his younger sister, Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright) who is a technological genius.

Not long after, Wakanda receives information on Klaue and T’Challa decides to go on a mission to capture Klaue for stealing vibranium and causing an explosion which resulted in the death of Wakandans. While T’Challa, Okoye, and Nakia temporarily restrain Klaue with the help of CIA agent Everett K. Ross, Klaue is extracted by a team that includes a young man wearing the same ring as T’Challa’s grandfather who turns out to the be the main villain, Killmonger.

Killmonger turns out to be the son of N’Jobu who has come to challenge T’Challa to the throne. Once he succeeds in a ritual fight (while also killing Zuri, played by Forest Whitaker, who is wracked with guilt, in the process), Killmonger plans to take over the world using vibranium, freeing Africans whose ancestors were colonized and are still facing the consequences of today.

Michael B. Jordan is fantastic as Killmonger. He was young when he lost his father and definitely has channeled his rage into a mission against Wakanda. Everything he does led to the moment he challenged T’Challa. His acting is terrific. I really felt the emotion and passion in his role. He feels that he has been wronged, and he is determined to make it right. Not just for him – but for the descendants and people of Africa. In a sense, Killmonger’s vision is to make a better and more equal world. His means are just violent and suppress others. He is an excellent foil to T’Challa. The fight with Killmonger forces T’Challa to grow as a leader in a very short period of time. Chadwick Boseman gives a very regal portrayal to T’Challa. He appears as a confident leader, but you can see as he grows.

I wish Andy Serkis would have been in the movie more. He was creepy as hell, and it was fantastic. This was the first time I had seen Serkis in a role that wasn’t stop motion, and it was just great. He really added to the movie. I just really enjoyed his contribution to the movie.

Martin Freeman didn’t have a huge role as Agent Ross, but he was some of the humor relief. He was another one who had some character development. It was nice to see his worldview change.

Lupita Nyang’o and Danai Gurira are badass. Simply badass. Gurira, famous for her “Walking Dead” role as badass Michonne, was an awesome warrior. Her loyalty was fierce, and you could see as it was tested between loyalty to Wakanda and T’Challa. Her character had some interesting developments. She had some wonderfully choreographed fight scenes. Lupita is just full of grace, but definitely could get her hands dirty in a fight. I was cheering for Nakia and T’Challa to get back together the entire movie. I wanted Nakia to be queen so bad. Lupita would kill the role as as a queen.

The underrated star of the movie was Letitia Wright as Shuri. How many princesses do you see as geniuses, developing technology and life saving medical procedures? She was a brainiac. She could hold her own in a fight, but her brain was just as dangerous a weapon, if not more. I think this is a great message for young women today.

I don’t know much about Afrocentric culture, but I loved those elements of the movie. The set designs, costumes, and even the accents were beautiful. I really felt like I was immersed in a whole different world in Wakanda. I loved the experience. I loved the mixture of old time rituals of their ancestors with their advanced technology; it was a lovely juxtaposition. It wasn’t your typical Marvel movie, and I loved it. Black Panther, Okoye, Nakia, and Shuri are awesome contributions to the Marvel universe, and I can’t wait to see them in Avengers: Infinity War. I would give this movie a solid 8 out of 10. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.

On a final note, one of the last post credit scenes was absolutely AMAZING. Go see this movie. You won’t regret it.

 

 

 

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