I must admit, I cannot call myself a true superhero fan. I became interested in the genre only a few months ago, and I have primarily watched movies from the MCU. But I want to go on a limb to say Black Panther is one of the best superhero movies out there. Granted it cashes in on an important social conversation of our time, but the story is so well written that the conversation about race appears organic and not forced. The music is beautiful and the film looks great. Overall, it’s an absolute delight to watch.
Black Panther is set in the fictional kingdom of Wakanda in Africa. Home to the world’s only stores of Vibranium, the strongest metal in the universe, Wakanda has become technologically advanced and prosperous. The erstwhile king of Wakanda, T’chaka died in an explosion in Vienna (shown in detail in Captain America: Civil War) and his son T’challa is set to become the new king and will be bestowed with superpowers to protect the tribes living in Wakanda as Black Panther. That is until his cousin, Killmonger, comes to lay claim to the throne. T’challa needs to prove his worth as Black Panther and make an important decision to open up Wakanda (wrongly believed to be one of the poorest nations on earth) to the world.
The writing is a real win for Black Panther. It makes the utopian idea of an advanced and prosperous society without want seem believable. The characters are endearing, particularly the women. T’Challa’s sisters, Okaye and Shuri, and his girlfriend are all shown as strong, capable and independent women. They are not just shown in relation to T’challa but as their own people, making significant contributions to the world around them. T’Challa is strong and deserves to be king, but when he doesn’t have the superhuman strength of the Black Panther, he isn’t invincible. He is empathetic to the conditions Killmonger grew up in and transformed him into what he ultimately became. Which brings me to Killmonger. I found his character underwritten. I wish the writers and director had taken the time to show the conditions he grew up in rather than assuming knowledge about black people’s experiences growing up in America, particularly because Marvel has an international fan base. That being said, Jordan has an impressive screen presence and makes for a formidable villain in the movie.
The movie is made even more engaging by the superb use of music. After watching the film, I heard its soundtrack again and I was amazed by the variations in the songs. From the intense car chase in Busan to the powerful scenes of the Jabari tribe to the emotional scene accompanying Killmonger’s death, my emotions were heightened by the music. Furthermore, the production design and cinematography were instrumental in creating the world of Wakanda and giving me a view of just how majestic a technologically advanced, prosperous world can look like. Add to that the costumes and the film is an overall visual treat.
Marvel Studios is making its mark by churning out good film after good film. Black Panther is a gem in Marvel’s productions, not least because it became the first superhero film to receive a nomination for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. If you are even vaguely interested in superhero films or just want to watch a good movie, Black Panther your film.