This latest Marvel Cinematic Universe installment takes the standard good versus evil archetype to a whole new level.
Part of its brilliance lies in its ability to introduce moral complexities that elevate “Black Panther” beyond choosing between right and wrong; this story explores the depth of that dichotomy while making a case for either side.
And it’s freakin’ gorgeous! Contrary to the implication based on its title, “Black Panther” offers a kaleidoscope of color that will steal your breath away.
Another reason it’s is so hypnotic is because Marvel opted to narrow its concentration to this character and his homeland – broadening that aim on occasion to explore and flesh out the incident during which we first met T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War,” but otherwise sticking close to home.
And that home is Wakanda, a (fictional) East African nation. Strategically hidden from the rest of the world this industrialized land thrives in secret because of the mountain of (fictional) Vibranium on which it sits.
And because of that powerful element these characters are immersed in a world of James Bond-like gadgets and technological advancement while still honoring the culture.
I applaud the ways in which director Ryan Coogler (“Creed”) interweaves the obvious progressiveness yet maintains customary connections through tribal markings, ceremonies and rituals, the colorful attire, and an all-encompassing dedication to the land by the people of Wakanda.
“Black Panther” is chock full of insanely talented folk, and every character makes this movie bolder and better, ammiright?!
Boseman is incredible as the hero trying to fulfill his destiny while attempting to dissect, analyze and understand the pledge of this role into which he has stepped.
Michael B. Jordan captivates as Erik Killmonger, with his drop-of-a-hat transformation from mild temperament to blind rage. And that hint of vulnerability he expresses gives so much depth to this complex character. Love him and/or hate him, you totally get where he’s coming from.
As T’Challa’s sister Shuri, Letitia Wright is sassy and sarcastic and smart and spirited. “Black Panther” the movie and Black Panther the hero would be nothing without her; you’ll see why.
And how ‘bout the rest of ladies?
I mean, have you ever seen a stronger, more physical, and more assured bunch of women?
The answer is no. These warriors clearly will throw down to protect their bubble, their livelihood, their legacy; and their dedication is anything but self-serving.
And watching the whole lot of them – including T’Challa’s ex Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), General Okoye (Danai Gurira), and Queen Mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) – is pure delight.
There is one character that seems to jump the allegiance fence each time the wind shifts; it’s clearly for the sake of convenience… but whatever. Don’t worry about it.
Like with other franchise flicks, “Black Panther” incorporates wry humor, much of it courtesy of Shuri – bless her; a legitimate villain, though here the threat is based on a personal and truly substantial vendetta; dazzling battle scenes; and – no surprise – that patented Stan Lee sighting.
Its characters are powerful; its scenery is majestic; its duels are well thought out and beautifully executed; its multi-layered narrative is beyond engrossing.
Miniscule glitches aside, “Black Panther” is everything a modern-day superhero story aspires to be, and it’s exactly what a Marvel flick should be – a nuanced look at this MCU extension and an almost perfect vehicle by which to continue to build and expand upon the franchise.