Ever since we’ve been given a glimpse of the Black Panther in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, it’s been a rage. Marvel aficionados have been anxiously knocking at the door for his solo. And in Ryan Coogler’s adaptation of the character, it not only gets a riveting stand-alone outing, but elevates the contemporary MCU experience by taking a road less traveled.
Though at the heart of the matters it’s another superhero movie with the titular character going fisticuffs with the antagonist, Black Panther is layered with several engaging narratives meticulously entwined to deliver a telling tale about an inconspicuous African land of Wakanda, apparently the most developed and technologically-advanced country in the world, and the transition it goes through following the death of its king T’Chaka (John Kani).
Set immediately post the events of Civil War, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to his homeland to take over the reins of the kingdom from his father, although not before flexing some muscles and taking a spear to his chest. Much to the dismay, the problems don’t end there though. There are outsiders with prying eyes on not only the Wakadan throne, but also on its invaluable asset, the vibranium.
In comes Erik Killmonger.
Played by a nonchalant Michael B. Jordan, the principle pantomime of the film poses a formidable threat to the integrity of the hermit kingdom and comes with a touching backstory of his own that brings a semblance of poignancy to the movie.
What helps Coogler’s cause throughout the course are the stunning visual effects that brackets alongside some of Marvel’s recent outings, such as Thor: Ragnarok. Skillfully crafted and amazingly depicted, the plush settings of Wakanda would give Asgard a run for its money while its innards featuring the metro transport among others, are a sight to behold. What isn’t there to like about it? As many as nine VFX productions houses, spearheaded by Industrial Light and Magic, have come on board to string together an elegant CG artwork that provides just enough cushions to propel your viewing and consolidate the makers’ purpose.
Black Panther also lights up by the effervescence of the talented cast it boasts; right from the battle-hardened Okoye (Danai Gurira) to the impish-cum-prodigious sister Shuri (Letita Wright) and T’Challa’s ex-flame Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), Wakanda’s ladies exhibit unflinching warrior-like spirit in the face of adversity whereas the likes of Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman and David Kaluuya form a terrific support too.
This isn’t a conventional superhero action film made only to satiate your adrenaline cravings; there’s much, much more to it. Black Panther is a unique storytelling of love and hate; of loss and redemption; a whirlwind journey that doesn’t just leave you thrilled, but also tug at your tear chords at the end. Ryan Coogler lays down a masterpiece which you cannot help but marvel; breathing new life into the genre that’s dominated by the whites and all things-American.
This would be the final stop before we head to the colossal Infinity War that’s about to rage, and Black Panther couldn’t have set the bar any higher.