REVIEW: BLACK PANTHER

All Hail the King!

With his first introduction in Captain America: Civil War, The Black Panther quickly gained a mass following as audiences, both comic readers and not, realized the potential influence this character could have on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as Hollywood as a whole. Two years down the road, people have been holding there breath in anticipation of what this film could bring to the table. In a world of dissonance, rising racial tensions, and an overall lack of unity, the standalone film had a lot of weight on its shoulders, and an objective to fulfill. The question now is, how did it do? As far as numbers go, I’d say Black Panther’s projected 200 million dollar weekend opening in the U.S. speaks for itself. I was fortunate enough to see it opening night, and boy do I have some thoughts!
Have you ever had the feeling walking out of a theater that you just came back from a completely different world? One of the main takeaways for me coming out of this movie was how much of an experience it was. I am a huge fan of the MCU, and, while always promising a thrilling and enjoyable adventure, each new addition does tend to come with a familiar, albeit accepted structure. Though there is nothing wrong with that, Black Panther uses any route it can to break away from any heavily traversed ground and delivers something fresh. This is not in the hope of throwing the audience off in any way, but simply to display that, just because it ain’t broke, doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. The world that Ryan Coogler and his team have created is incredibly immersive, from the culture interwoven through every frame and line of dialogue, to the richness of color and atmosphere apparent in every scene. The film never backs down from itself, and only continues to press its identity with growing tenacity as it plays its course. Cinematographer Rachel Morrison, also known for her work on the widely acclaimed film Mudbound, creates some of the greatest shots in recent years, including some truly breathtaking visuals! 
The performances in this film were nothing short of spectacular. Each character had something unique, exciting, and integral to offer to the story, and the actors who portrayed them left practically no room for fault or critique, especially the women. The females stole the show, and rightfully so! Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia) Danai Gurira (Oyoke) and Letitia Wright (Shuri) are nothing short of powerhouses in this movie, and their authority, demeanor, and even humor was radiant from start to finish! Plus, their ability to obliterate anything in their way in style and a smile on their face never disappoints. 
Now, that isn’t to say the leading men don’t have their own cards to play. As a matter of fact, they brought the entire deck to the table. Both Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan give this film its roots, providing the backbone for what very well may go down as one of the greatest superhero films to date. Of course, Boseman’s T’Challa (The Black Panther) boasts his own set of impressive feats, but the real outlier here is Jordan’s infamous Erik Killmonger, who I would argue is the MCU’s strongest, most well-developed villain ever. In the past, we have witnessed some decent antagonists, some even likable ones, as well as those who we wish had never been a part of the franchise altogether, and would prefer to wipe from our minds. In Black Panther, the exact opposite is true. Without giving any spoilers, Killmonger’s intentions, as well as his reasoning, are so well thought out and presented in the film that he becomes so much more than simply the “bad guy” who wants nothing more than to see the termination of the world as they know it. At his core, he is a human being, with a human heart, who desires nothing more than for wrongs to be righted, and justice is given to those who may, or may not, deserve it. Michael B. Jordan embellishes the already elaborately conceived character into an absolute standout among villains, even other heroes, in today’s industry. 
Altogether, Black Panther is not just another superhero movie. It is a film so enriched with culture, lesson, and moral that, if made apart from the Marvel franchise, would undoubtedly be able to stand on its own. If this film attests to anything about Ryan Coogler’s ability and vision as an artist, it is that he deserves as much power as Marvel is capable of giving him. When you see this movie, you too will leave feeling as if you are returning from a completely different world, and you wouldn’t be wrong. 



WAKANDA FOREVAAA!!!

Review by Austin Noll

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