Black Panther

black panther

Markus Rating: 4 ½ out of 5 Stars

It took me a couple minutes to wrap my head around the plot, but once the Trap music started, I knew this was going to be good.

“Black Panther” focuses on the story of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) the Black Panther superhero, as he takes his place as the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, after the death of his father.

With vibrant and wonderfully Afrocentric performances from co-stars Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright (who plays the Alfred character to this African Batman) Daniel Kaluuya, Danai Gurira, Michael B. Jordan (who is a powerful representation of the “forgotten African-American son” and a couple of white guys, Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis (I say this in jest. These are two of the most talented actors working today) this isn’t just another Marvel episode telling the story of an arguably lesser known character. As a film, “Black Panther” is a force that demands its own place at the table right alongside the heavy hitters and box-office kings of this thematic superhero kingdom. And I’ve yet to even touch on what Ryan Coogler brought to the table.

Aside from a superbly written script, and visuals, including fight scenes that rival films in the Mission Impossible and current 007 franchises, it must be said that writer/director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed) keeps “Black Panther” culturally focused more than any other in the Marvel universe. Meaning, “Black Panther” is a movie that is 90% focused on just African/African-American culture (real and fictional alike) first and foremost, rather than doing the more conventional “guy in a suit that saves people” thing (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I liken this to a Wonder Woman movie where Diana never leaves her island. But what Coogler did by making this a Black movie first and superhero movie second, much as he did with “Creed” (Black movie first; Rocky movie second) comes off as so new and innovative compared to what has become more and more a blur of Avengers theatrical releases.

True, Marvel Studios is likely to hit box-office targets no matter what movie it puts out, but much like “Deadpool”, “Black Panther” should revive an interest in the Marvel theatrical universe for the group that has become bored with the more conventional superhero stories. This is important, not only monetarily (because, Disney is gonna make its money) but also for the inclusion/diversity argument. In other words, it’s great to see this studio (in particular) continuing to put forth the same effort to appease multi-cultural audiences as they do everyone else.

Final Thought: Is this the best Marvel superhero movie of all time? Well…Marvel superhero movie rankings aside, “Black Panther” is simply an excellent example of grade A writing, meets grade A direction, meets grade A actors doing grade A work…but if you must know, in my opinion this is the best superhero movie to come out the Marvel cinematic universe; and I’m not just saying that because I’m Black.

Follow me @moviesmarkus

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