It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a decade since the original Iron Man hit theaters. What’s even more unbelievable, though, is that the MCU has only grown smarter, wittier, and more confident over time. Black Panther is the lasted in a long line of successes that feels familiar in all the right ways while also being fresh in all the right ways. It’s additionally among the most personal entries to come out of this fruitful film franchise. Here are just five things that director Ryan Coogler and company get just right:
5. The Action
Having previously brought us Fruitvale Station and Creed, we all know that Ryan Coogler is one of the most capable young filmmakers in the business right now. That being said, Coogler had yet to prove that he could tackle a big budget action picture. Much like Patty Jenkins of Wonder Woman, however, Coogler was more than up to the task here. Black Panther is filled with colorful action sequences, the highlight being a whimsical car chase that injects the theater with kinetic energy. Even the set pieces that are smaller in scale manage to be epic, particularly a combat sequence that earns comparison to Batman’s back-breaking brawl with Bane.
4. The Side Characters
Chadwick Boseman already established in Captain America: Civil War that he was born to play T’Challa, who must accept his role as the king of Wakanda in the wake of his father’s death. It’s the supporting players who steal the show in Black Panther, though. The film has gotten a lot of attention for having a primarily black cast, save Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis, who both turn in strong work. What’s just as inspiring, however, is that the film features so many great roles for women. Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o shines as Nakia, who’s not just T’Challa’s love interest, but an essential asset to his team. Letitia Wright is wonderful as Shuri, who provides her brother with emotional and tech support. Then there’s Danai Gurira as the proud Okoye, who could seriously give Black Widow a run for her money as the MCU’s most kickass woman. Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Sterling K. Brown round out a stellar ensemble without a single weak link.
While it’s disguised as a third world country, Wakanda is actually a thriving African nation with technology not even Tony Stark could dream of. The production and costume design, mixed in with state of the art visual effects, create a land that obviously doesn’t exist, but comes across as unusually authentic. That’s because Wakanda’s culture, customs, and people are so well-defined. Most importantly, the filmmakers work in so much universe building with subtle details, showing rather than telling.
2. The Real World Commentary
One of the reasons Wakanda feels so real is because it’s plagued with numerous real world issues. As other nations of the world struggle, T’Challa is conflicted whether to share his wealth or solely look out for his people. Considering the travel ban, not to mention the Black Lives Matter movement, this is quite possibly the most relevant Marvel movie to date.
1. The Rivalry Between Our Hero & Villain
Between Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Hela in Thor: Ragnarok, the MCU is finally giving its heroes some worthy adversaries. The rivalry between T’Challa and Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger provides Black Panther with its driving force. Part of what makes their dynamic so fascinating is that we not only see things from T’Challa’s perspective, but Killmonger’s as well. Killmonger makes such a strong case for his ideals and we might actually root for him if it weren’t for some of his more ruthless actions. That’s the sign of a truly marvelous villain. Plus, now we can officially forget Jordan was ever in Fan4stic.
Bonus: The Spectacular Soundtrack
Ludwig Göransson’s musical score adds another layer of atmosphere to every scene and the songs couldn’t have been more carefully selected. Speaking of which, check out our Top 5 Songs from the Black Panther Soundtrack.