Following up his impressive introduction to the MCU in Civil War, comes Black Panther. Black Panther is the 2018 Marvel film starring Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, with an amazing supporting cast of: Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi, Letitia Wright as Shuri and Micheal B. Jordan as the main antagonist; Killmonger. Black Panther explores the culture of Wakanda and the city of Wakanda but also shows the growth the title character has to embark on, as he has a nation to protect, an identity to hide, a mantle to take and is constantly being forced to pay for his ancestors actions. Black Panther is a fantastic film; which although might not be as great as it was claimed, did have a strong creative vision, and a fantastic vessel in Ryan Coogler to execute it, I give Black Panther an A or an 8.5 out of 10.
There was nothing that was going to stop me from watching Black Panther in the opening week of its release. Before it was released Black Panther had a lot riding on its shoulders, it had to perform because the MCU are no doubt placing a lot of expectations on Black Panther (alongside Spiderman) to be the main faces of Marvel’s Phase 4, so it had so much riding on it that Black Panther was always going to succeed. Whilst I loved Black Panther, I do not think it was the best Marvel film – whilst definitely up there (although it seems they all are), I don’t think it can be claimed as one of the best Marvel films let alone “one of the best superhero movies period” which I heard a lot being thrown around. On the other hand however, I think Black Panther is one of the best Marvel origin movies; alongside Iron Man. Ryan Coogler’s direction and narrative really did keep me engaged and a compelling villain in both Killmonger and the realisation for T’Challa that after everything he may be the villain in the situation really did add depth to the film.
I always start with what I liked in a film, but it seems I will be pretty much just listing off everything in the film, everything from T’Challa to M’Baku to Klaue to even Everett Ross. Whilst, there are certain shocks the filmmakers attempt that don’t exactly hit the nail on the head. I would say my favourite aspect in the film is the conflict within T’Challa and the complex relationship between him and Killmonger that leads to one of the best climaxes of a superhero movie I have seen. I loved T’Challa as the straight talking King, who is being forced to pay for the crimes of his ancestors and all his problems are in the form of Killmonger. Killmonger is an amazing villain, when he was originally introduced I was worried, because (from the looks of things in the trailers) I didn’t think he would fit the movie but he absolutely did, with his challenge of T’Challa and the scene with him taking the seat being highlights. The visuals in the film are amazing and it really shows Wakanda to be beautiful, the film explored Wakanda and the impact of the Vibranium technology on the people, and introduced us to Vibranium well. My only problem with that is that the Vibranium technology became the answer to everything without any real limitations.
Black Panther is a great film with great characters and great individual scenes. The storytelling and direction by Ryan Coogler is amazing, with the scene where the camera is flipped to show a change in narrative being exceptional. There a many great scenes in this film, with the scene where T’Challa is talking to his ancestors, and Killmonger talking to his father and the scene in the end with the sunset all being my favourite scenes. That being said, characters like M’Baku and Klaue genuinely stealing and having some of the best scenes in the movies. The thing that allows this film to be so great are the fantastic characters that are introduced and the excellent dynamics created between all of them and the fantastic blend of drama, comedy and heart some of these scenes are able to balance. The “you were wrong” scene and the sunset scene showing so much heart and passion and discoverance for the title character that not only pulled on the heartstrings, but allowed us to sympathise with T’Challa and Killmonger adding depth to both of them.
As I have said many times, Black Panther has some amazing characters, but the title character himself isn’t the show stealing. Black Panther features an amazing supporting cast with some great acting. Unlike many other Marvel movies, all characters seem to have depth by the end of the movies (except for some – but we’ll get to that). The scene stealers are definitely Okoye and Nakia, with Nakia being much more than just the standard “Marvel love”, so many other films have, Talking about Marvel traditions, Killmonger is the best Marvel villain in a long time, probably ever. Something that made me really love Black Panther was the way it went about things, the development that was given to Killmonger was amazing resulting in that heart-pulsing climax where he challenges T’Challa and reveals who he is. I hated Jordan at the beginning because he was a “crazy American” but when he shot his girl it showed that he has had to become ruthless, and he was every thing that the previous leaders of Wakanda had created, T’Challa then deciding to change and the villain actually making a difference – meaning that although Killmonger might have lost he still won. M’Baku and Klaue were great comedic relief, with M’Baku adding a great new dynamic later on in the film and Klaue just being amazing with the Korea casino fight.
I normally never really talk about the soundtrack or the score of the film, but I think that a whole paragraph deserves to dedicated to it. The actual theme song for Black Panther was fantastic with it becoming iconic. Ludwig Göransson did an amazing job in not only creating a score that adds suspense to the drama but also celebrates and integrates the culture and the feel the film was going for,
After speaking about what I loved so much you must be thinking why only an 8. But that is because the film does come with some flaws. I am not sure whether my expectations going in were that it would be the best film of all time but going in there I did come out with a little bit of disappointment. But I think that is more on the hype surrounding it as supposed to the actual art itself. Moving into what could’ve been better, for me it is mainly the loss of T’Challa, when he was thrown over the cliff I knew he wasn’t dead and so there was no emotional impact or care for me. Plus, by this time I had really come to care for both the characters and knew there was still about 45 minutes left in the film, and that he would still be alive. Furthermore, it seemed as though his death was resolved so quick, I think if that period had been dragged on a little longer we could have seen Nakia step up even more and add even more layers to her. I was never once worried about whether he was or would be dead, because I knew he was going to be back on our screens in a couple of months. The other main problem is that with a film with such great individual characters like Shuri, Nakia and Killmonger; W’Kabi and M’Baku seem to be lost in the film a little, with the final resolution (the rhino stopping) feeling cheap because that relationship was never defined as anything more than just a passing comment. And the relationship between T’Challa and W’Kabi not really being defined that strongly as well.
All that is left after my crazy expectations and extreme nitpicks is why the hell would you kill Andy Serkis? He was amazing in this film and I loved him. He was great in everything he did, and I hope they do manage to bring him back somehow in the future in Black Panther 2. Something that was great was that the film was able to balance the villains well and give Killmonger a valid reason to hate. Everyone assumed Klaue would be the main villain or be helping in some way, but (although I didn’t like it) his death did serve as a vessel to show how amazing Killmonger was, with his “crazy American” line revealing the truth to audiences about Killmonger.
Where I think this film struggles is its runtime, I don’t think it needed to be two and half hours. the film was so much going on that I don’t have time in this review to list them all, I am leaving out quite a bit on Shuri and Okoye, Zuri, T’Chaka and his brother, Bucky and Wakanda opening its borders because there is just so much to say. That of course takes nothing away from the film but just shows how packed out this film is.