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article imageReview: ‘Black Panther’ excels by not compromising Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Feb 16, 2018 in Entertainment
‘Black Panther’ is awe-inspiring in its commitment to not only bringing this character to the big screen, but ensuring it was done in a way that would build a demand for his return.
Even though Marvel Studios launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe with its better-known properties, they haven’t been afraid to take a chance on less mainstream characters. One of the reasons is each franchise is approached in a manner that best suits its unique personality. Of course, there are numerous similarities that can be seen across any number of stories, but it’s the elements that make them different that appeal to audiences (and make the many team-ups more attractive). All superheroes battle villains, but it’s how they do it that creates fans. Black Panther is the latest protector to get his own theatrical release and they didn’t cut any corners.
Picking up a week after the events of Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) has returned to his home in Wakanda to be crowned king following his father’s death. In addition, the position endows him with the powers of the Black Panther, which was bestowed on his people many generations ago so the leader could also serve as a protector of the nation. Located in the heart of Africa, Wakanda is a high-tech wonder fuelled by vibranium, a powerful energy source they conceal from the rest of the world for fear it would be misused. But a mysterious stranger named Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) is vying to take control of the nation to harness its formidable weapons and create a new world order.
Before this picture, not a lot was known about vibranium except that Steve Rogers’ indestructible red, white and blue shield is made of the same material. However, Wakandans use the alien mineral for everything — and having secretly harnessed its energy for ages, they’ve built the most advanced (and generally peaceful) society on the planet. One of the key inventors propelling their technology forward is T’Challa’s sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), who is basically his Q and the architect of their Tomorrowland. But she’s also not afraid to get into the fray when necessary since the women of their nation are trained to be powerful allies.
A scene from  Black Panther
A scene from 'Black Panther'
Marvel Studios
Okoye (Danai Gurira) is captain of the royal guard called the Dora Milaje (meaning “Adored Ones”) and loyal to the head of Wakanda. She leads an army of fierce and capable women from every tribe who will lay down their lives to protect the king. However, Okoye is more than just a fearless warrior; she’s also an astute strategist and trusted friend of T’Challa and his family. Although Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) seems to have trained with the women warriors, she doesn’t appear to be an active member; but she is an equally smart and capable combatant who uses her skills to help people in Africa and on other continents. She’s also the new king’s ex-girlfriend, which allows for an additional level of intimacy between the two.
Erik is one of the best villains Marvel has brought to the screen. His history is interwoven with T’Challa’s, but his motivations for coming to Wakanda are in many ways understandable and forgivable — a truth with which T’Challa struggles. Erik has a commanding presence as he radiates confidence, anger and righteousness in equal parts. One of the key questions T’Challa faces as a king is about sharing their advanced resources with the world; in particular, helping oppressed and underprivileged black people outside of Wakanda. The affluent African nation has evolved under a literal bubble and there is legitimate concern that lifting the veil only invites risk. Conversely, they must consider if they are contributing to the problem if they hoard their knowledge — an opinion gaining in popularity in various tribes, especially after Erik’s arrival.
Co-writer/director Ryan Coogler has an excellent handle on every aspect of this film, making it a fresh and exciting addition to the MCU. In addition to ranking as one of the best pictures released by the studio, the movie presents its story with authenticity. There’s no attempt to make the film less Black or whitewash any of the characters — in fact, there are only two notable white characters played by Andy Serkis (Klaue) and Martin Freeman (Agent Ross). The Wakandans are an inspiring mix of strength, intellect and courage. The picture juxtaposes breathtaking natural landscapes and unbelievable achievements in architecture, while also exhibiting influences from cinema classics, such as The Godfather and various James Bond movies. The soundtrack curated and performed by Kendrick Lamar energizes the movie, while the action sequences are heart-pounding battles that will have audiences on the edge of their seats.
The Black Panther is not just a costume or a superpower, but a way of being and this film captures that completely. After an exciting debut in the most recent Marvel team-up, the hero’s standalone feature doesn’t disappoint.
Director: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong'o
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