Believe the hype. Black Panther is more than just another Marvel romp, director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station and Creed) was able to maintain his creative spark throughout the film sending a grandeur of Afrofuturistic escapism.
This history-making near-masterpiece can now be helmed as one of the greatest superhero films to ever hit the theaters. I have not been that thrilled after seeing a superhero movie since 2008’s The Dark Knight. Coogler’s film has now grossed over a $1 billion worldwide since its initial February 16th release, making it the highest-grossing film of 2018, as well as the seventh highest-grossing film ever in the United States and 20th highest-grossing film of all time. Currently, may I add. Its theater run is far from over and I wouldn’t be surprised if, by the end, it cracks $2 billion worldwide. We will see! Coogler also made history with his $242 million four-day opening weekend. This was the biggest debut ever for an African-American director.
What made Black Panther so great was its ability to elevate the superhero genre to exciting new heights. The film’s screenplay, direction, performances, costume design and soundtrack were all perfectly executed to the highest form of art. Full of pure pulp entertainment, Black Panther praises African culture and also raises awareness for Black lives in America. A social commentary full of rich rewards and thought-provoking themes. Elevated by its predominantly Black cast, Coogler’s film is a revolution for future films to look more like this. The story follows T'Challa AKA Black Panther (a brilliant Chadwick Boseman) who, after the events of Captain America: Civil War, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to take his place as King. However, when an old enemy reappears on the radar, T'Challa's mettle as King and Black Panther is tested when he is drawn into a conflict that puts his sovereignty to the challenge and raises the level of urgency with global consequences.
Boseman continues to shine in the title role of a lifetime, as he grows and shapes his character. Boseman’s versatility in his films (42, Get on Up and Marshall) is quite astonishing. Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger is one of the greatest antagonist to be put on the screen, regarding the superhero genre. Killmonger has been, by far, the best villain I’ve seen for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). But I also hate calling him a villain because his character was so much more than that label. Jordan’s character was conflicted, at times I was rooting for him and in others I wasn’t. He made you believe in his message and he made some extremely valid points on what he was trying to accomplish. With every kill that Killmonger makes, he scars his body with notches to represent those deaths. This shows Erik’s tormented morality and humanity on an emotional scale.
Alongside T’Challa and Killmonger are key supporting actors that helped guide the rest of the film. Those actors consist of Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Sterling K. Brown, Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis. Nyong'o and Gurira both represent strong female supporting leads with their fierce acting chops and bravura character development. Coming off fresh the boat from his breakout role in last year’s critically acclaimed film, Get Out, Kaluuya’s hot streak continues to reign. With strong writing, acting and directing, Black Panther succeeds in virtually everything on screen. Coogler’s film paints a picture of what it means to be Black in both America and Africa. It’s significance and cultural footprint will last for generations to come. Black Panther is a movie that matters because, right now, he is the best chance for people of every color to see a Black hero represented on screen.
Black Panther is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief rude gesture.
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