Black Panther (2018)
Directed By: Ryan Coogler
Reader Rating (Rate Here): [Total: 2 Average: 4.5/5]
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B Jordan, Andy Serkis, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, Letitia Wright, Martin Freeman, Forest Whitaker
Black Panther is a movie which has everything a Superhero movie would require: action, style, script, comedy, acting and an absolutely amazing background score. Marvel Studios was building up everything for Infinity War and Black Panther which is the best Marvel movie made till now, sets it up brilliantly.
The movie picks up from Civil War, prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) preparing to ascend the throne left vacant after the assassination of the king T’Chaka in the UN. In the coronation ceremony he gets challenged to a hand to hand combat by M’Baku (Winston Duke). T’Challa defeats him, sparing his life and with no further hiccups becomes the King. And the first task for him is to arrest Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis, having fun) who has recently broken into a British museum and stolen a Vibranium artifact with plans to sell it to the highest bidder. Black Panther teams up with Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), his ex and an undercover spy and Okoye (Danai Gurira) who is the head of Dora Milage- the special forces of Wakanda and personal bodyguards of the king. But little do they know that Ulysses is a pawn to a much more menacing villain called Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B Jordan) who has an agenda of his own. How or if T’Challa thwarts Killmonger and Killmongers relation to Wakanda and T’Challa forms the rest of the story.
Black Panther/T’Challa has a steep arc, from a young warrior he now has to think and behave like a king. Chadwick Boseman totally pulls off the transition, both as a Panther and the king he is believable, he has a panache which radiates in every scene.
But it is the villain who has stolen a march over the Black Panther and for the first time since Loki, Marvel has got its villain right. Michael Jordan is ripped, menacing and a man on a mission- he is easily hate-able yet invokes sympathy from the audience. I would have liked to see more of him in the movie.
The movie is about a superhero with super human abilities and yet he has a set of bodyguards called Dore Milage comprising of all female warriors- how cool is that?! The group is headed by Okoye the extremely loyal and supremely skilled and fierce warrior. In a vain world she likes to dress fuss free and efficient (kinda like all the professional women in real life). Black Panther is stylish and a big part of that is due to his cool sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), who is in charge of the technology and innovation in Wakanda. Her meetings with T’Challa reminded me of James Bond’s with Q- before every mission he is introduced to a new tech device and all those interactions bring out her youthful innocence and her bond with her brother. Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia is also cool as a War Dog (an undercover spy unit for Wakanda). She is strong, sexy and has a mind of her own and there is a good reason Black Panther often freezes in front of her.
There are other characters who have played a key role in the movie like Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi who with his tribe mans the borders of Wakanda. The standout among them who makes the 2nd half really interesting and hilarious is Winston Duke as M’Baku: the powerful leader of Jabari Tribe manning the mountains. In the second half the shot of him sitting on his throne through his chambers with bamboo sticks hanging horizontally is absolutely stunning. There are other notable performances from Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman who plays Everett Ross continuing from Civil War.
One of the best things about this movie is that it has combined past traditions and new age mentality and it is seamless. It has carried forward some aspects from previous marvel movies and has added its own brilliance.On the one hand Wakanda is so ahead of its time with its technology but is still ruled by the archaic traditions for ascension to the throne. The movie is a good introduction to a super hero and Ryan Coogler has done a brilliant job in bringing African culture in it. It is not just the pronunciation but also the dressing sense and the behavior. That makes it sort of un-Marvel- and it only adds to it making it richer. There is also the fact that the whole movie consists of only two white guys (Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman) and also that America (or the planet or the universe) is not under attack and no other superhero from previous Marvel movies has made an appearance.
Its Marvel-ness comes from the action sequences especially the car chase scene in the streets of Korea. It has amazing VFX as there have been in previous Marvel movies but I was hooked onto the background score- Ludwig Göransson has done a stunning job. When you place the movie in the timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe this is a very important movie and Marvel has done a tremendous job in seamless transition. Spoiler alert: in the movie Wakanda has now opened its doors to the world to share its technology which I believe means that Tony Stark is going to die in Infinity War releasing in May and his place as “the guy who pays and make the avengers look cooler” will go to Shuri and all the weapons which were previously supplied by Stark industry will now be supplied by Wakanda. This makes me sad as I absolutely love Tony Stark and MCU wont be the same with him gone.
Watch the movie as it is an important piece in the lead up to Infinity wars.