After hearing such universal praise and reading positive review after positive review of Marvel’s new movie, Black Panther, I was excited to go to the theater with my friends and see for myself what all the fuss was about. The movie definitely lived up to the hype.
Black Panther has all the elements of a Marvel superhero movie: stellar fight scenes and action sequences, amazing acting and great characters. The movie also drops an absolutely astounding soundtrack by Kendrick Lamar, which thumps throughout the action. The movie lacks some of the laugh-out-loud humor that has lifted other recent Marvel movies, however, which, at least for this reviewer, keeps Black Panther from earning a place among the all-time classics in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Black Panther centers around the fictional African nation of Wakanda. This nation was built upon a reserve of the strongest substance in the known world, vibranium. You’ve heard of Captain America’s shield? That’s made of vibranium (well, technically, for the true Marvel nerds out there, a vibranium/steel alloy).
The Wakandans use vibranium to create highly advanced technology and weapons, all the while keeping themselves hidden from the outside world, forming a sort of Utopia. Wakanda sends spies around the globe to gather intelligence and help fight international crime and capture highly important fugitives.
The Black Panther, named T’Challa, is the king of Wakanda and is given a special heart-shaped herb to give him enhanced strength, speed and agility. Along with this, the Black Panther uses high-tech equipment and weapons developed from the vibranium that the Wakandans have access to.
The main “villain” in Black Panther is named Erik Killmonger, although I won’t go too much into his backstory because that would lead to some major spoilers for those still planning to see the film.
In Black Panther, I found myself rooting for the villain, something I rarely do in any movie, especially a superhero movie. Killmonger’s vision is to start a revolution that allows marginalized people to fight back against their oppressors using the abilities and resources of the Wakandans that they have kept secret for so long. Although Killmonger’s methods are drastic, he is fighting for what felt like a noble cause, and it didn’t seem fair that the Wakandans would stay in hiding for centuries as others around the world are oppressed.
One thing I always look forward to in Marvel movies but saw lacking in Black Panther is the light comedy that is sprinkled through the action. For anyone who has seen movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor: Ragnarok, The Avengers and the Iron Man series, you know the important role that humor plays in taking those movies from good to truly great. Don’t get me wrong; I definitely laughed a couple of times during Black Panther, but the movie had nowhere near the amount of humor that I’ve come to expect from the best of Marvel movies.