Home Reviews Film Review – Black Panther (2018)

Film Review – Black Panther (2018)

by Nick Kush
Black Panther

The first of three Marvel films to release in 2018 is finally upon us.  Coming off of the success of Civil War, many were looking forward to seeing Chadwick Boseman play the role of King T’Challa once again, hoping that Black Panther could become one of the best MCU films to date.  The following review will be spoiler free.

Black Panther

Synopsis

Directed By: Ryan Coogler

Written By: Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Andy Serkis, Angela Bassett, Sterling K. Brown, and Forest Whitaker

After the death of his father, T’Challa (Boseman) returns to Wakanda to reign over the country as the newly appointed king.  As their leader, T’Challa must decide how to rule his kingdom which has been cut off from the rest of the world for many millennia.  Factions disagree if the country should open up to the world — and if they should do so peacefully.

However, when Ulysses Klaue (Serkis) resurfaces with a new foe, the plans put in place by T’Challa come into question, putting his reign in jeopardy.

Background

All the way back in 1992, Wesley Snipes declared his interest to make a Black Panther film so that he could show Hollywood the beauty of Africa.  One of the biggest stars in Hollywood at the time, Snipes worked tirelessly to get the movie made.  In fact, Snipes signed on with Columbia Pictures to star in a Black Panther film in 1994.  Unfortunately, due to script issues, the project was ripped apart and rewritten multiple times, leaving Snipes in limbo.

Plans for the film went on the back burner once the MCU started to pick up steam after the release of Iron Man in 2008.  Interestingly enough, there were serious discussions of introducing Wakanda into the MCU back in 2010 with the release of Iron Man 2.

In 2014, things finally began to fall in place for a Black Panther movie as Kevin Feige announced that Chadwick Boseman was cast in the role.  Ever since, the hype for the property has only risen — and that hype hit an all-time high this week with Black Panther‘s release now upon us.

black panther

image via Entertainment Weekly

Ryan Coogler Builds an Amazing Mythology Within Wakanda

After Civil War, many were clamoring to see all that Wakanda had to offer.

Ryan Coogler creates a living world that is a great marriage between tribal roots and futuristic technology.  The cliché is to say that the country is also a character in the story (literally every movie about New York gets that same distinction).  Despite that, you immediately feel the power and spirit of this secret nation.  Wakanda and its people exude strength in combination with a centered spirit, making for a country that deserves to have its superior technology.

The country prides itself on staying in touch with its ancestors, shaping their everyday lives in the process.  We as the audience are just now getting introduced to this mythical African country.  Yet, it’s already one of the most immersive superhero worlds.

Ryan Coogler combines incredibly visuals with deep-rooted mysticism, bringing even more prestige and strength to the importance of the Black Panther in that society.  In this regard, Black Panther is very much unlike any of the MCU films to date.  While you only spend two hours and change in this landscape, you feel as if you’ve been there for generations.

black panther

image via CBC

A Tight Script Sets Black Panther Apart

The executives at Marvel are finally starting to hone in on the balance between setting up future movies and creating a film that is wholly satisfying on its own.  Black Panther is its own film, and it’s much better for it.

The true brilliance in Black Panther comes in its focus on character rather than spectacle.  Yes, the landscapes are gorgeous and the action is a feast for the eyes.  However, Ryan Coogler and his writing partner Joe Robert Cole have no issues slowing down the pace to give proper motivations to each character.  Every prominent individual has their moment to shine.  Even better, every action has a purpose — a fact that many superhero movies cannot claim for themselves.

As Black Panther progresses, there’s a literal and figurative power struggle that occurs between Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger.  The two are polar opposites — one is deeply centered while the other is reactionary and impulsive.  You empathize with Killmonger as they villain.  Every one of his words is uttered with power and pure grit, leaving a lasting impact even with lines as mundane as “hiya, Auntie.”  There’s something to note about the onscreen presence of a villain and what it does to the perceived obstacles for the hero.  Killmonger is an equal to T’Challa with a radical belief system due to his upbringing, making him one of the most interesting MCU villains to date — and maybe the best there’s ever been.

black panther

image via IMDb

Black Panther is the Most Mature MCU Film…Ever

Black Panther is not content with adding another cartoonish entry into the MCU.  Filled to the brim with societal and political commentary, it’s the most mature MCU film — and it’s not even close.

The film can boil down to a discussion of protectionism vs. globalization and the duties of better-off countries.  At the forefront of the plot is a struggle of whether or not to allow for open borders — and if jingoistic actions are necessary in creating growth in some areas of the world.  Shockingly enough, Black Panther actually takes a defined stance on this discussion.  However, it does so without a sense of cynicism or preachiness.  Everything about the film is earnest in that regard.

With such a focus on Erik Killmonger, we also see a heightened version of the impact that a poor upbringing has on an individual — adding a nice layer of class relations to the story as well.

black panther

image via The Verge

Calling a film “important” has become more prevalent today than ever.  Black Panther is one of the few instances where that descriptions actually fits.  This superhero film is not a perfect film — it’s still hampered by those typical ex machina moments and unnecessary, bloated action scenes that plague superhero movies.  However, its themes do more than enough to overcome its flaws.  Showing the strength of humanity is not a theme that is new in the genre.  But, Black Panther adds an extra layer of substance to the discussion, making it very, very special.

Final Thoughts

Black Panther still succumbs to some of the third act troubles that plague most superhero movies, but there’s no doubting that it is an absolute triumph and a strong start to the 2018 blockbuster schedule.

When I reminisce about Black Panther, I’ll think of the strong character beats that took place.  Every single character has their moment, making the action and the stakes that much more enthralling.  Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan shine as polar opposites, creating a great political discussion that covers very topical subjects.

This movie is a sign that Marvel is unafraid to try anything with its films.  We’re all very lucky to see how they progress forward.

Grade: A

black panther

image via The Verge


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The Auditor April 21, 2018 - 8:58 pm

Great review. I’m also a huge fan of film and have recently compiled a list of my top 5 films. I’m quite new to blogging and would really appreciate it if you could check out my stuff if you have a spare minute.

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Nick Kush April 21, 2018 - 9:23 pm

Send me a link!

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The Auditor April 22, 2018 - 4:44 am Reply
Pam Young March 17, 2018 - 10:49 am

The possibility of moving towards more “important” films is thrilling. I watched Star Wars when it first came out (28 times, in the theater. I know this to be true because one of my college students was in the ticket booth). Now, sadly, even though I’m a devotee of Lucas, the later “star wars” films are boring to me. Because I have now read several reviews here, I am encouraged: “the truth will out” kind of thing. Thank you!

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Nick Kush March 17, 2018 - 11:57 am

Absolutely! I’m growing tired of the Marvel/Star Wars formula as well, so it’s nice to see movies like Black Panther do a little extra!

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carolineturriff March 31, 2018 - 10:15 am

I am so looking forward to seeing Black Panther but as someone who is half Jamaican I really want to see it with someone who has some kind of black origins as well. Unfortunately my close friend who I want to see it with is living in Jamaica so I will have to wait for her to come back to see it! Thanks for following my blog.

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CliffyE March 15, 2018 - 6:36 pm

Sounds good. Maybe Hollywood is going to stop butchering great franchises like Marvel Comics! I might go and see this on the big screen soon. Thanks 🙂

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Nick Kush March 15, 2018 - 6:40 pm

Glad to help!

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Mr Monster A GoGo March 14, 2018 - 12:53 am

I really am no superhero fan. I saw this in Seattle though, but only because it was in 4D (3D with moving seats, wind, light, and mist, etc effects). That aspect was enjoyable, but as a whole, I felt the film was a bit predictable. I saw an African-American family upon leaving. The father took a photo of his son and wife in front of a large cardboard standee for the film. I am glad that the African-American community have a super hero to look up to. It must be a huge thing after years of Caucasian-dominated superhero flicks (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Thor, etc.). But for me—it didn’t do a thing. (But the 4-D stuff was fun. Ha!)

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Nick Kush March 14, 2018 - 12:54 am

Lol well I’m glad you enjoyed the experience on some level!

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barkinginthedark March 13, 2018 - 2:55 pm

thanks for the follow. Barking in the Dark will always strive to entertain, inform, agitate and amuse. continue…

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phemymoon March 9, 2018 - 2:12 pm

Nick Kush shared my thoughts…I will watch this movie for years just the same way I did Sarafina…I still do watch it and its like every time I do..its like am doing it for the first time

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Kingpin Pictures February 21, 2018 - 3:55 pm

Logan is a great example!

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coolcomix0221 February 19, 2018 - 12:19 pm

Hi there, Nick-O-Li! I saw Black Panther and I have to say: It was an absolute joy! Chadwick Bosman continued the spark he displayed in Captain America: Civil War and brings it to a raging inferno with his struggles as the king of Wakanda. Erik Kilmonger is definitely one of the best villains the MCU has to offer, since his plight, reasons and motivations are understandable, all stemming from a literal “Sin of the Father” where John Kani’s T’Chaka had to slay Sterling K. Brown’s N’Jobu due to the latter’s intent to help the oppressed Black community rebel through vibranium-laced violence (not to mention that this incident was kept secret for all those years). As such, Kilmonger’s endgame to supply the oppressed Black people of the world with Wakanda’s weaponry is noble in a way, but it also has horrifying implications since it’s still shunning (for the most part) people whose skin tones are not your own. Either way, this film has great commentary on the subject that humankind still struggles with today. I noticed a good amount of African-Americans in my viewing and I wholeheartedly enjoyed the experience as they did.

The supporting cast was also outstanding. Lupita Nyong’o was really nice as Nakita, Danai Gurira (a.k.a. Michonne of The Walking Dead) absolutely nailed it as Okoye (the head of the Dora Milaje) and Letitia Wright absolutely it as T’Challa’s genius sister Shuri. Three women who showed their worth in combat and technological prowess? Yes, please!

Also, let’s not forget about Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross. Glad to see that he got more to do in his role, especially when he helps prevent the aerial shipment of vibranium weapons from getting outside African borders. Staying in tune with The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings, Andy Serkis really came into his own as Ulysses Claue a.k.a. Klaw. It looks like he was having a fun time with his role before his character gets killed off. Finally, Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker were rocksteady as Ramonda and Zuri, respectively.

Is it a perfect film? No, of course not. My biggest grips mainly came from two spots. One was when Black Panther fights human traffickers at night, since it was partially tough to see what was going on. The other came during the climax, but not what you may expect. A. When Black Panther and Golden Jaguar/Kilmonger fall down the Vibranium Mine, I could tell that it was obvious CG figures. However, the rest of the fight was mainly good. B. I’m aware of the “third-act problem” that loads of people have pointed out with the MCU and superhero films in general. Maybe it doesn’t bother me as much here, since I’ve gotten used these climactic confrontations, but I didn’t really have much to complain about here.

Either way, any and all rightful criticisms we have for this flim are minuscule since it was an absolute thrill to watch with biting commentary, solid performances and exciting moments that stick out in our minds. I also enjoyed your review, so you and Team MovieBabble keep up the good work.

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Nick Kush February 19, 2018 - 12:39 pm

Thanks for your incredibly detailed thoughts (as always).

The “third act” problem that I referred to in the review definitely isn’t as pronounced as other superhero films. There’s still a solid understanding of character and growth during this sequence that helps keep everything somewhat grounded as a result. The action felt a little like overkill since the main discussion was well fleshed-out discussion of protectionism and cultural relations.

As for the CGI, I noticed it too, and I wonder if they didn’t have time to fully render the effects since the film was pushed up from its initial July release date to February to capitalize on Black History month in the states. I have no facts to back that up, but it’s just a thought!

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coolcomix0221 February 19, 2018 - 1:38 pm

I wonder. In your opinion, what superhero movie would be a good example of having a solid third-act climax?

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Nick Kush February 19, 2018 - 1:42 pm

It’s short of a cliche at this point, but I’m a big fan of how The Dark Knight ends by focusing on the psychology of the characters and the human psyche with the boat dilemma thrown in there.

That being said, I’m not opposed to spectacle. It’s always fun to see things occur on a large scale, but having spectacle for the sake of spectacle when it does nothing for the story or doesn’t add anything to the characters then I start to tune out if it’s a little bloated.

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Nick Kush February 19, 2018 - 1:45 pm

Logan is also pretty solid in that it’s Wolverine’s last attempt to make his life worthwhile before he succums to his inevitable death

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coolcomix0221 February 19, 2018 - 1:49 pm

That’s right. You mentioned it in a previous comment.

paulliverstravels March 13, 2018 - 3:05 pm

It’s hard for me to believe that Andy Serkis is that buff after seeing Lord of the Rings.

The moral dilemma in BP reminded me of MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail in which King describes the moral choices of acquiescence, violence, and peaceful non-violence to defend his non-violent resistance to oppression.

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coolcomix0221 March 14, 2018 - 1:36 pm

Interesting, since it reminds me of the fact that our choices (good or bad) will always come with unforeseen consequences.

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Rondaddy46 February 18, 2018 - 7:47 pm

Your review is spot on, what are you referring to with the “third act that plagues superhero films?”

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Nick Kush February 18, 2018 - 10:00 pm

Most superheroes fall into the trap of providing spectacle for the sake of spectacle without furthering the story or the characters. A great example is the ending of Man of Steel. Sure, the action is well-directed and shot, but it meanders on without a narrative thread. Superman and Zod just have to continue fighting because it’s the third act of a superhero movie and history says that you have to end it on a massive action sequence. However, films like Logan are in tune with the characters and their pursuits as the action occurs. Logan is trying to make his life worthwhile and save the one ray of hope (Laura) that he has left.

Black Panther has such fully realized characters so it’s not such a big issue in my opinion, but I still felt the sense that they felt forced to create a big third act sequence simply for spectacle sake when the more important and fascinating struggle was between T’Challa and Killmonger.

Obviously that’s just an opinion and I don’t blame anyone who unabashedly loves sequences like these. Those are just my thoughts!

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paulliverstravels March 13, 2018 - 3:00 pm

The only flaw I found in Wonder Woman was basically Ares actually showing up for that final fight. I would have found the movie a lot more interesting if Ares didn’t show up leaving Diana to ponder the nature of humanity that waged war for their own motives.

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abodeofcinephiles February 18, 2018 - 6:59 am

Lovely review! Is it worth watching during a weekday even though there’s alot of work to do or should i wait for the next weekend?

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Nick Kush February 18, 2018 - 9:28 am

See it whenever you can! It’s a great movie that might show up on my best of the year list somewhere!

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NewKDramaAddict February 17, 2018 - 9:51 pm

I left the theater with a smile and I’m already looking forward to buying the dvd for many more viewing! I went at the only time available, 10am on Friday. Well worth my time spent!! Good review!!

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Nick Kush February 17, 2018 - 9:53 pm

Glad you got a ticket! As I went to see another movie today people were so disappointed to see that it was sold out

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madisondiazauthor February 17, 2018 - 7:34 pm

I saw it and totally loved it!! You’re right about each character getting their moment to shine because all I kept saying during and after the movie was, “That whole cast was so talented.” Definitely enjoyed the amazing acting.

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Nick Kush February 17, 2018 - 7:56 pm

I loved how it was the one movie where the romantic elements didn’t feel tacked on or unnecessary too!

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madisondiazauthor February 17, 2018 - 7:59 pm

Definitely! I hate uneccessary focus on romance. Not every big budget movie needs it.

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Nick Kush February 17, 2018 - 8:04 pm

Exactly!

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paulliverstravels March 13, 2018 - 2:58 pm

In part because the writers also cared about each of the characters, giving them motives and quirks of their own.

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sierraleonegirl February 17, 2018 - 9:35 am

I couldn’t agree more, I was lucky enough to get advance tickets and watch it in cinema and your review felt quite accurate.

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Nick Kush February 17, 2018 - 9:43 am

Lucky you for getting advanced tickets! How’d you manage that one??

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sierraleonegirl February 17, 2018 - 4:03 pm

I am a member of my local cinema rewards club and they offer limited advance tickets each month for a new release film. I just have to get in early to buy the ticket and complete a survey after about the cinema experience so they can improve it.

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Nick Kush February 17, 2018 - 4:04 pm

I must say, I’m pretty jealous!

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sierraleonegirl February 17, 2018 - 4:07 pm

I love going to the movies alot, so if your cinema has something similar, it’s worth checking out. Even if for discounted tickets or specific film experiences and events. It was years before I finally joined and I’m glad that I did.

Anne Bell February 17, 2018 - 8:11 am

I got to see this movie last night with my family and we loved it. I especially loved the dynamic between T’Challah and his sister! It felts like they were actually siblings and not actors just pretending to be.

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Nick Kush February 17, 2018 - 8:29 am

Letitia Wright was AWESOME! I definitely want to see more of her moving forward!

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paulliverstravels March 13, 2018 - 2:57 pm

I particularly enjoyed the scene where she was playing Q to his 007.

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raistlin0903 February 16, 2018 - 5:05 pm

Glad to hear you enjoyed it! It has been gathering pretty much only positive reviews so far. I’m going to see it myself tomorrow. Really looking forward to it ???? As always great post!

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Nick Kush February 16, 2018 - 5:06 pm

Thanks so much!!! Enjoy yourself!

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Stacy February 16, 2018 - 3:39 pm

Thank you for the review. Apparently, your blog has become my one stop destination for any latest movie released. I always get it right here.

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Nick Kush February 16, 2018 - 3:40 pm

I’m flattered to have that distinction ????

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Monique Desir February 16, 2018 - 1:09 pm

Hello there. Thank you for the spoiler-free review. I wanted to learn more about Snipes and when I clicked on the link within this sentence: “Unfortunately, due to script issues, the project was ripped apart and rewritten multiple times, leaving Snipes in limbo” it opens up a review on the movie, “It”. 🙁 Please, oh please fix the link. 🙂

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Nick Kush February 16, 2018 - 1:16 pm

It was also ripped apart and rewritten multiple times, hence the connection there for the link!

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masterymaker February 16, 2018 - 11:43 am

Thanks for the review! Wasn’t sure I wanted to watch it in theatres, but you convinced me.

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Nick Kush February 16, 2018 - 11:45 am

Glad I could help! It’s definitely a worthwhile experience! ?

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Nick Kush February 16, 2018 - 11:14 am

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