Words by Austin Frape
After the death of his father, Prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to Wakanda, the technologically advanced and isolated African country, to take his place on the throne as their king. T’Challa must also become the protector of Wakanda, the Black Panther, as the nation is threatened to be publicly known once the smuggler Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) and Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) start dealing weapons made of Wakanda’s rare mineral, Vibranium.
You would think that 10 years and 18 movies later, the Marvel universe would start to become just a tiny bit stale. Fortunately and surprisingly, they have yet to run its course, with Black Panther bringing quite a fresh take on the franchise. With a record breaking opening night of $192 million, Black Panther’s success is due to the vision of co-writer and director, Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station (2013) and Creed (2015)).
Similar to Coogler’s previous efforts, Black Panther shines best as an engaging character study from the perspective of T’Challa and his obligations of staying in the traditions of royalty and how they clash with the world changing. This morality fuels the motivation of the protagonist, Killmonger, who knows the benefits of Wakanda technology. His plan to overthrow T’Challa, as well as a tragic back story and an amazing performance from Michael B. Jordan, makes one of the more memorable villains in the franchise.
However, this is also a weakness as the villain and all the supporting characters are more interesting than the panther himself. As great as Boseman is in the role, the writing makes him a standard protagonist. While it isn’t terrible to see a person wanting to do the right thing, when you contrast him to the wide variety of supporting characters that are full of personality, it does make him a bit bland to watch.
Another great aspect of the movie is the world building. With a two hour plus running time, the film takes it time to display Wakanda in all its glory, showcasing their cultural traditions and the futuristic advances with their amazing technology built from Vibranium. It was wonderful to see a different location and culture on the big screen rather than being in New York yet again.
Overall, Black Panther is a very entertaining and refreshing entry into the Marvel universe, effortlessly laying down the ground work for future films. Providing wonderful characterisation that is supported by great acting and some pretty thrilling actions sequences, I would most definitely recommend checking it out.