In my “Thor: Ragnarok” review, I tore into the film for being far too like the previous installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I’ve been hoping for a movie to shake things up and I’m proud to say that “Black Panther” not only accomplishes that, but it manages to be one of the best films in the MCU because of its praise and respect for African culture.
After returning home to his home of Wakanda, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman, “Marshall”) takes the throne to lead the country as its king. However, when a mysterious individual known as Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan, “Creed”) arrives to the hidden land, T’Challa finds himself fighting to remain in power and protect his home, family, and culture.
“Black Panther” is so much more than just another Marvel movie. It’s a celebration of African culture. Every element, from the art design to the music, pays tribute to minorities and their history. They all work together beautifully to create something entirely different from what we’ve seen before.
Kendrick Lamar contributes his musical talents to deliver one of the best soundtracks we’ve heard from the entire Marvel franchise. From the musical production to the art of the entire film; the movie came together to create a robust storyline that represents African-American culture. The city of Wakanda is an interesting visual feast that consists of buildings inspired by both modern American and rural African architecture.
Most importantly, “Black Panther” has finally broken free of the curse that has beguiled almost all of the films in Marvel.
Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger is the best MCU villain since Loki. From the moment he stepped onto the screen, I knew that Jordan’s performance was going to be something special, which indeed, it was. His presence is captivating, and his character is surprisingly empathetic. The juxtaposition of him being an empath and hurt from his past versus his desire for power and control is what makes his role very powerful.
That isn’t necessarily the case for the opening ten minutes. There’s a vast amount of exposition that, while needed, does drag down the first act. It’s told too dryly, as if it’s said for the sake of being said and not because it’s interesting. As well, a twist that is revealed roughly halfway related to the opening lacks any punch or sincerity, leading to some emotionally vapid scenes. This, however, is merely trivial to what the film succeeds at, which is almost everything else.
Finally, a Marvel movie has been released that has stripped away almost every recurring problem I’ve had with the MCU. Almost.
“Black Panther” is one of a kind and rarely feels derivative of the films that came before, as well as decades of mediocre adversaries have gratefully come to an end. If that’s not enough reason for you to see it, I honestly don’t know what else to say, because the movie is fantastic.