Following the formula of last years’ “Wonder Woman” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, “Black Panther” functions as standalone film for a hero previously introduced in a team-up movie. Just like the young Tom Holland’s version of Spider-Man, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther first appeared in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War”, proving to be a vital player in the climatic airport superhero throw down.
Directed by Ryan Coogler (“Fruitvale Station”, “Creed”) “Black Panther” has been highly anticipated as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first release of 2018, eighteenth overall installment, and perhaps most significantly as their first project to feature an African-American protagonist, supporting cast, and director.
“Black Panther” takes place in the fictional, isolated African nation of Wakanda, where various tribes live atop an enormous mound of vibranium; a rare, invaluable metal which was famously used to construct Captain America’s iconic shield. Following the death of his father T’Chaka (John Kani) in 2016’s “Civil War”, T’Challa (Boseman) has returned to Wakanda to rule as the new king of the nation, the “Black Panther.” Before long, he is challenged by a man named Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), forcing T’Challa to fully unleash his special powers.
For the most part, I enjoyed watching “Black Panther”, but I would not say that it is a perfect movie by any means, or even one of Marvel’s best projects to date. While the exceptional production and costume design for Wakanda truly brings this fictional national to life, the storyline surrounding it feels awfully familiar at times; quite reminiscent of Disney’s “The Lion King” actually. This makes for a functional plot, but I think there was a great opportunity to make something a bit more original out of the unique setting here.
As far as “Black Panther’s” action sequences go, I would say they are mostly thrilling to watch, particularly in the fights between T’Challa and Killmonger. However, I have to point out that Michael B. Jordan delivered a terrific performance here that stands out as the highlight of the movie for me. Killmonger’s compelling origins made for a very intriguing threat to our hero that we can actually relate to and understand as an audience. In my opinion, this is far more effective than a cliché take over-the-world supervillain with little to no personality. That being said, I think that my previously mentioned story issues with the film make “Black Panther” an average Marvel movie at the best, even though it broke a major color barrier for title characters in their ever-growing cinematic universe.