I’ve heard a lot of great things about Black Panther even before I decided to watch it. Honestly speaking, I wasn’t too interested to see it because I wasn’t familiar with the character’s mythos unlike the other Avengers. Still, the movie presented the perfect opportunity for me to learn about Wakanda so I saw it anyway. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it was the best Marvel standalone but it was a pretty solid addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Synopsis: After the death of his father T’Chaka, Prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) inherits the throne of Wakanda, a secret country that thrives on the power and technology brought by a huge mound of Vibranium that fell on Earth centuries prior. Along with the throne, T’Challa also assumes the power of the Black Panther to protect his people from threats from the outside world. A new threat arrives when the king’s estranged cousin known as Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) returns to Wakanda to challenge him for the throne. Unfortunately, his reasons were far from altruistic as he seeks to use Wakanda’s weapons and tech to wage war on the world.
Out of all the Marvel movies, I must say that Black Panther may have had the best set and location. The film’s main strength, I think lies in its ability to showcase the old school such as the beauty of African culture and traditions, along with the new school with Princess Shuri’s (Leticia Wright) inventions. The film had an excellent design team. Everything was just so sleek and polished. Even the action scenes were perfectly choreographed.
While I think Chadwick Boseman did a great job on the titular role, I was far from impressed with T’Challa’s performance in the ritual combats without the Black Panther serum. In contrast, Black Panther found a perfect villain in Killmonger. The intensity in which he portrayed his anger and his anguish at times overshadowed T’Challa’s own issues as he wrestled with the weight of deciding the fate of his kingdom and his people. The whole time Killmonger was spewing out his monologue, I was gritting my teeth in anger but at the same time, my heart ached for what he lost. That was how effective Michael B. Jordan was as a villain.
The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira was badass as Okoye, a Wakandan general and the King’s loyal bodyguard. Leticia Wright’s Shuri was also a bright spot in the Black Panther universe.
I liked the battle scenes but I felt it could have been more epic because they were only taking up a very small space in a wide area with basically only two factions battling it out (where were the other tribes, anyway?). If the shots could have been tighter, the battle could have looked grittier and more intense. The hand to hand combat scenes on the other hand, were exceptionally good mainly because the Black Panther and Killmonger appeared to be evenly matched. I get that the Black Panther was trying to make up for his poor showing in the ritual combat by trying to level the playing field on the fight scene by the train but the earlier beatdown was too memorable to forget quickly.
I also felt that the love story felt a bit off, just because it did not seem to contribute a lot to the progression of the story. At times, it felt like T’Challa was making decisions to impress Nakia (Lupia Nyong’O)and that wasn’t very cool at all, especially with his situation.
All in all, I think that Black Panther was a good solo movie, especially to introduce the Black Panther to the MCU. It was a perfect celebration of culture as well. However, at the end of the movie, I felt more connected to the villain than to the hero and I don’t think that’s what the movie was gunning for. While I would love to see Black Panther fighting alongside the Avengers, I’m not all that interested to see another solo movie. A spinoff with Okoye would be better in my book. But that’s just me.