Directed by: Ryan Coogler
In the Southeast Africa, you will find Wakanda, a Kingdom located on the Northeastern edge of Uganda. A kingdom with wise rulers, which is filled with a rich precious resource, called vibranium.
Throughout the history of the Marvel cinematic universe, Marvel Studios has been excelling at bringing entertaining characters to life in a parade of blockbusters that are all connected into one another, all marching towards the battle with Thanos that will start in the film Avengers: Infinity War. Black Panther, while another multi-million dollar success, has taken liberties to differentiate it from other recent Marvel films. It is a film where representation and diversity has been long overdue. Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler who has also directed Fruitvale Station (2013) and Creed (2015), is a movie that feels groundbreaking in the same ways as last year’s hit from the DC comics Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins. It is the first time a major studio has greenlit a black superhero with a black director and a largely black cast, which includes Forest Whitaker as Zuri, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, and Letitia Wright as Shuri, the princess of the fictional African country Wakanda. Marvel Studios has recognized a film where it was more than adding another great installment of one of their beloved characters, it has the same amount of depth as some of the franchises best, such as Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
The film opens in Oakland, 1992, where the film’s director, Ryan Coogler, was born and raised which is also the setting for his first feature film, Fruitvale Station. The film then picks up one week after Captain America: Civil War, where the audience was first introduced to Prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and his superhero alter ego Black Panther. After his father was killed, T’Challa returns to his home of Wakanda, where he will take his father’s place and be crowned king. Wakanda is a mystery to the outside world; the country is incredibly advanced, filled with an abundance of advanced technology with the courtesy of vibranium, a rare metal that is commonly known as one of the materials used to construct Captain America’s shield. In order to protect the substance, Wakanda is protected by some kind of force field and has been pretending to be an undeveloped country where they hide their advancements from the rest of the world.
There is much to pack into this blockbuster, but it does work thanks to Coogler and the rest of the cast and crew who were able to deliver such a grand superhero movie. The fight sequences were breathtaking, an example being a beautiful fight scene with T’Challa who is joined by Nakia and Okoye in a South Korean casino where they’re attempting to kidnap Kalue; the tracking shot especially from the first and second floor of the casino for me was amazing! Personally my favorite character of the movie was Shuri, T’Challa’s 16-year-old mastermind and game-for-anything sister, who is also the head of the Tech Design Group in Wakanda. Her playful teasing and mischief is what appears to be the only thing that can crack her brother’s calm, cool, and collected affect. My only issue is the overuse of CGI becoming more and more noticeable. For the most part, the MCU’s CGI has been great and even spectacular sometimes, but there is a fight scene in the vibranium mine track scene that looked like animation at more than one point, maybe my eyes are not used to that much vibranium on screen.
The film, Black Panther, is not the first blockbuster or first superhero movie, but there has never been a movie on such a big scale that was written, directed, and designed by such incredible black talent with an incredible soundtrack thanks to Kendrick Lamar and various artists including SZA and The Weekend. The film was a movie that had aspirations to make something better, deeper, and glorious, and it achieved all of that and more.