“Wakanda Forever!” With that phrase, the most inclusive superhero of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born. And, the best universe of superhero movies currently in production got a little better.
“Black Panther” is your typical superhero origin story movie. We learn about the Black Panther mythos, are re-introduced to T’Challa; the current Black Panther, and learn about the tribal battles in his home country of Wakanda while also learning about the outside threat provided by T’Challa’s own cousin, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens.
The story is remarkably well done. We see T’Challa ascend to the throne as king of Wakanda, take up the mantle of Black
Panther, then lose his way as he learns about Killmonger and the life Killmonger was forced to live by T’Challa’s father, T’Chaka.
“Black Panther” is a wonderful film that works great as a stand-alone film and as part of the further reaching MCU. You don’t need to see any of the other MCU films to know what’s happening in “Black Panther.” But, you do have to see “Captain America: Civil War” to learn about the introductions of T’Chaka and T’Challa. When it’s done, you can enjoy “Black Panther” on its own, or you can gear up for his next appearance in Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” that is teased by the appearance of the Winter Soldier at the end of the film.
“Black Panther” is the first film in the MCU to feature a predominantly African American cast. Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright and Forest Whitaker all deliver wonderful performances that make you believe you’re in this fictional world of Wakanda.
In particular, Jordan’s performance as Killmonger drives home his dichotomy. Killmonger hates how his and T’Challa’s ancestors have hidden their riches from the world and left so many people alone who could’ve used their help all in the name of protecting themselves. Killmonger is an evil man driven by an honorable motive. Wakanda is a wealthy country that makes itself appear like part of the third world. Killmonger, who is the son of T’Chaka’s brother, was left stranded in the United States as a child when T’Chaka killed his own brother for trying to help others and risking revealing Wakanda’s secret. Killmonger found his father’s body and it forever changed him.
Despite his evil actions, Killmonger is able to get through to T’Challa and convince him to change Wakanda’s direction for the future. I love how Killmonger’s motivation is honorable, but his actions are not. It teaches us the ends don’t always justify the means but even someone who has fallen into the villain trap can still teach the hero a valuable lesson. It’s a story that really can’t be told with a Caucasian cast.
Every time I watch this film, I sit enraptured and enthralled. The storytelling is amazing. The performances are spellbinding. If I want to watch a stand-alone MCU film, I can watch this and not be lost. Yet, if I want to feel connected to the overarching story to the MCU, that inclusion is there. It’s a fun ride start to finish and one that I love going on.
Ranking: 5 out of 5 stars.
What do you think of “Black Panther” and its overall placement within the MCU?