‘Black Panther’ revolutionizes the Marvel cinematic universe

In Arts & Entertainment, Film & TV, Reviews
(Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Marvel’s “Black Panther” exceeded all expectations and has become the highest praised Marvel film by critics. The movie brought in a record-breaking $192 million over the three-day weekend making it the fifth highest opening of all time.

While it’s easy to compare this film’s box office numbers to other Marvel films, its incomparable to anything Marvel has done before. Uniquely rich in culture, the movie explores issues of colonialism, racism and the institutionalization of black people, and it features a predominantly African-American cast.

Audiences were first introduced to T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) in “Captain America: Civil War” (2016) where he donned his vibranium Black Panther suit for the first time and sought vengeance for his father.

“Black Panther” picks up shortly after the events in “Civil War” as it follows T’Challa’s journey to inherit the throne and learn what kind of king he will become while looming threats bring conflict to the Kingdom of Wakanda.

The highlight of “Black Panther” is its cast; black excellence gives this film its beating heart and soul. The hero himself is a skillful protector with regal characteristics. However those supporting him are just as vital to the film as he is.

The powerful, intelligent and skillful women of Wakanda: Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), Shuri (Letitia Wright), Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and the Dora Milaje (a group of personal bodyguards protecting the Black Panther) led by Okoye (Danai Gurira), stole the spotlight in the film.

The conviction these women show on-screen as they fiercely battle and wield their vibranium weapons and loyalty for their king, is what made the film stand out. They are fierce, but also very human, displaying emotions of love seen through Nakia and T’Challa’s relationship, humor between the siblings Shuri and T’Challa as they bonded, and the dedication that Dora Milaje put forward to defend their king. These women aren’t sidekicks — they are a force of their own.

“Black Panther” also succeeded in producing believable, relatable and threatening villains. Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) is a perfect example of a leading villain that has a convincing purpose, as fragments of his backstory are revealed throughout the film, it becomes easy to empathize with him.

Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) is a villain that didn’t necessarily need backstory to deliver a compelling persona, even though he’s been around since “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (the same can’t be said about his arm). Klaue cares little for anything besides making money and genuinely thrives on the thrill of committing crimes, making his villain personality interesting.

Director Ryan Coogler successfully brought fans to a completely new, technologically advanced nation in the same way that James Gunn introduced the depths of Marvel’s cosmic universe in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films. Coolger’s incorporation of Oakland, California is a nod to his hometown, making the film feel closer to home while fans ventured to Wakanda.

The film also excels at establishing the Black Panther’s origins and mystical lore, starting with a short and beautifully animated prologue.

There is so much to admire about “Black Panther” that it’s difficult to find flaws within it. The actors and actresses, the story, the black culture, film score and original tracks on the film’s soundtrack produced by Kendrick Lamar all contribute to making this a revolutionary Marvel film. The only major flaw is the computer-generated imagery and animations during a few fight scenes, which are distracting at times, but minor compared to the entirety of the film.

The praise “Black Panther” received is more than deserved. It successfully lived up to its hype as a groundbreaking Marvel film. With “Avengers: Infinity War” quickly approaching on May 4, 2018, fans will definitely look forward to the Black Panther’s appearance when the Avengers take on Thanos.

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