Black Panther Spoiler-Filled Review
From beginning to end, “Marvel Kevin” has landed himself in winning territory with Ryan Coogler’s vision of Black Panther. Pick any aspect of a movie you may like: cinematography, acting, writing, directing, CGI, character development, flow, story… it’s all there, in almost near flawless fashion, and it’s almost too much to take in upon first viewing (but we all know you’re damn well going to try anyway). Each line, action, and intention is purposeful, no matter how large or small, making the brevity and grandiosity of each moment in the film provide an experience that has not been felt in any other Marvel film to date. Black Panther will be known as a landmark superhero film not only because of its stellar basic movie elements, but because of its cultural significance, and will remain a tentpole for other black films (as well as films in general) to aspire towards.
Like Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther kicks off in the early 90’s (‘92), and without falter, sleekly provides the movie with the fuel to burn for the next two and a half hours. Within these first minutes, we get a glimpse of T’Chaka, T’challa’s father and previous Black Panther, as well as an idea of how the Wakandans have been gaining knowledge of the outside world: spies. It is established that Wakandans have been living among us, but not all were there with good intentions. One such spy was T’Chaka’s brother, who tried to sneak vibranium out of Wakanda in order to sell it to an outsider, who would then use the precious substance to develop weapons that could overthrow governments and oppressors. He is found out by the King, his brother, and killed, leaving the cousin of T’Challa without a father or a place to call home. Through this, we see conflict between the Wakandans and their debate as to whether or not they should be using vibranium to help the world, or keep it a secret as to not tempt it with the most life-saving or death inducing material.
After making his (Black Panther) first appearance in Civil War, the questions on everyone’s mind were, “Who, where, how, huh?” To the average moviegoer and avid fans of the series, Black Panther was a giant question mark as to almost everything about his past and present. Where is Wakanda? How does he have a suit made of vibranium? What are his powers? The answer to those questions were more or less all answered within the monologue at the beginning accompanied by stunning visuals. A more cohesive origin to a nation, king, and superhero have not been told up until that point.
Cutting to the present day, the question as to whether or not vibranium is to be shared with the world is still a point of contention among the Wakandans, including T’Challa’s ex girlfriend, Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), who decided to leave Wakanda in order to help the rest of the world in secret, as her nation refuses to do so themselves. Nakia is later retrieved in order to witness T’Challa become King after his father was murdered at the Sokovia Accords signing. While home, it is discovered that an enemy of Wakanda, Klaue (Andy Serkis), has stolen vibranium and intends to sell it in order for it to be weaponized. This calls Black Panther into action along with Nakia and Okoye (Danai Gurira), a general in Wakanda’s army.
It is during this act in the movie that we get our first glimpse of Killmonger, and what his motives are. We are shown that Killmonger is someone with influence and vision, however it is never really established as to how he come into the resources that he seemed to have available to him. Where the film did an excellent job at tying together Killmonger’s past to present, they didn’t do a great job at establishing how he gained all of his resources to accomplish his mission.
It is during the second act of the movie that the Wakandan trio travel to Seoul in order to capture Klaue during an eye-grabbing and suspenseful car chase (one of the best car chase scenes I’ve ever seen). One of the reasons for this lies heavily on the implementation of the remote navigation technology that places the driver (remotely) in a virtual environment of whatever space the vehicle they are controlling occupies. It is after this chase that they capture Klaue, but only for the time being. This is due to the intervention of Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who captures Klaue for himself, along with the vibranium. This leaves Black Panther, Nakia, and Okoye to bring a wounded CIA Operative, Everett Ross (Martin Freeman), who was posing as the buyer for the vibranium, back to Wakanda.
Killmonger somehow finds his way to Wakanda and plans to take the throne away from T’Challa. I say somehow because there was only one other person that knew how to get to Wakanda that was not part of the nation: Klaue… who was killed… by Killmonger. So without obtaining the location for the elusive destination, he arrives and begins his hate-filled mission. After an emotional, raw, and brutal fight with Killmonger, T’Challa is stripped of the throne. This leaves Okoye to choose whether or not she will remain loyal to the throne or to T’Challa. It was these personal struggles and moments of gauging loyalty that were the most emotional in the movie, and there were more than a few. One of the reasons this movie will ultimately prevail among all audiences is because of this, and is a note that should be taken by future writers and directors of Marvel films.
To lead off the third act, the three find T’Challa barely clinging to life in the mountains, as he was brought there by another tribe when he was found nearly dead. Through the power of a vibranium infused plant, he is brought back to life, and with a new purpose of changing the way a king rules Wakanda. T’Challa chooses to share his nation, and all the advances that come with it, with the world instead of hiding in the shadows. This is something that no other king has done before him, and caused conflict among many in the secret nation. It is with this newfound purpose that T’Challa returns to take back the throne from a power-hungry Killmonger, who, during T’Challa’s absence, started to send Wakandan weapons to major cities in the world with hopes that the Wakandan spies would use these to overthrow the government, leaving Killmonger in a position to rule over everything.
Battling amongst each other, the Wakandans were divided into two groups: those who were loyal to the throne and those who were loyal to T’Challa and the ideals that he stood for. This is where we see the final battle between Killmonger and Black Panther, who are both wearing Black Panther suits. The choreography, visuals, and technology used during this fight were nothing short of spectacular and a fulfilling culmination of all the elements that the movie had set up. Every bit of weaponry, emotional jabs, and physical movements were utilized during these final moments, and it is definitely one of the best, if not the best, fight scenes/battles throughout the MCU.
Black Panther does end up reclaiming his throne, but at the cost of killing his own family member. In order to honor his cousin and his memory, T’Challa decides to start a Wakandan Outreach Center where Killmonger lost his father in the United States. This act makes the movie come full circle due to the fact that T’Challa’s uncle was killed by his father over their dispute as to whether or not Wakanda should be sharing the advanced tech with the world instead of hiding. Now T’Challa is coming out of the shadows and sharing the tech with the world in order to help it, not overthrow it.
Throughout the movie there was an overwhelming theme of togetherness and support for one another. When alone and divided, hate was bred, and fear expanded. While together, and in support of one another, much could be accomplished and a newfound sense of hope was instilled. It is that simple notion that sets up Wakanda to be involved in Avengers: Infinity War. Whereas before Wakanda would’ve hidden and let the world around it burn, now they are on the front lines with the rest of Earth and helping prevent the destruction of it.
This movie was nothing short of excellent and left almost no stone unturned. The technology presented in the movie was unlike anything seen up until this point in the MCU, and was exciting to see what they could do and what they would use next. The weaponry integrated with the vibranium tech was very practical and did not feel overused, overly powerful, or out of place. Everything was there for a purpose and was utilized in perfect doses. The new Black Panther suit was incredible and definitely lent itself to the visually stimulating nature of the film; it will surely play a large part in Infinity War as well as the sequels to come.
With all of these elements put together, Marvel Kevin, Ryan Coogler, and the cast have solidified Black Panther as something to aspire to in terms of movie making, acting, directing, and writing. This is truly a one of a kind movie, not only because of its flawless storytelling, but because of its cultural significance as well. This is not just a movie people will go to see, it’s one they will go to support. This is the beginning of something great, and I cannot wait to see what comes next for the nation of Wakanda, and the people who brought this great vision to life.