Have you ever sat in a movie theater surrounded by people so excited and energized for the upcoming film that that very same energy spread over your seat and overtook your body like a Klyntarian symbiote? Such was the case at the AMC/IMAX early screening that I attended for Black Panther in Aventura, Florida on the eve of February 12th. Don’t worry, this Black Panther movie review will contain zero spoilers.
I have been rather excited for this film for quite some time, ever since Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa showed up in 2016’s Avengers: Civil War in fact. Smartly, this movie kicks off right there, immediately following the events of Avengers: Civil War. T’Chaka is killed in the bombing and Wakanda is left without a king (more accurately, an heir who has yet to claim his throne).
Wakanda is a rich, beautiful, vibrant place full of people who are deeply rooted in their history and culture and yet are ever-forward thinking. It is this duality that director Ryan Coogler spins through the movie’s tightly woven plot lines. The attention to details and consistency in this movie is second to non, through the various African tribes to the language to the history, everything is highlighted and not forgotten. I was happy to see an Africa unlike what western pop-culture has, to date, typically relied on for its visuals. The barren landscapes full of rampant disease and bloodthirsty warlords are not Africa’s story. Black Panther celebrates that and shows you its’ people as they are meant to be seen.
The depth of the cast roster and the high level of acting ability creates a human palette that leaves no one in its wake hungry for more. Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Michael B. Jordan, Martin Freeman and, of course, Chadwick Boseman all have their moments to shine. Each character has their own story and they progress throughout the 2 hour 14 minute film in a way that ensures they don’t remain undeveloped or two-dimensional. Even Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger. Letitia Wright’s portrayal of Shuri was phenomenal and I would like to see more of her in future movies. Both the “War Dogs” and the Dora Milaje are fantastic and left me in awe on numerous occasions.
I am going to tell you this, without hyperbole, Erik Killmonger is probably the best villain that has graced the screens thus far for a Marvel Cinematic Universe property. Yes, even Loki himself. Killmonger has depth, he is relatable, he has a deeply personal story that informs his actions that don’t even begin to make sense until you’ve seen the whole movie.
This movie is not like any you’ve seen before. This is immensely important from the MCU narrative perspective but also from a social perspective. Not only do we have a predominately black cast but a cast deep with powerful, beautiful women. It’s empowering to have representation on the screen. I have had this for a long time; it was amazing to sit in that theater screening yesterday surrounded by so many people who were now able to experience this same wonderful thing.
Aside from some editing choices and a slight critique of the pacing in the first quarter of the movie, I was highly pleased with this movie. If you are a comic book movie fan, this is one you should not miss. More than that, you may not want to miss those establishing shots of Wakanda on an IMAX screen.
4.5 / 5 stars
9.4 / 10 stars