Friday, February 16, 2018 marked the official US theatrical release of Black Panther, the latest superhero film from Marvel Studios, and eighteenth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Nerd Nation Magazine was in attendance for the early press screening Tuesday, February 13, courtesy of Marvel Studios, Allied Marketing, and Regal Cinemas.
Directed by Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed) Black Panther tells the story of T’Challa (played by Chadwick Boseman of 42, Marshall, and Captain America: Civil War) the Warrior King of Wakanda – the fictional East African nation from Marvel Comics making its first cinematic appearance. Due to an asteroid crashing to Earth ages ago, the people of Wakanda discovered the incredibly powerful alien metal vibranium, which they used to develop highly-advanced technology, which they have kept hidden, leaving the rest of the world under the impression that they are a third world country, when they are anything but. After T’Challa’s father dies in a terrorist attack orchestrated by Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Star Wars Ep. VII and VIII) a sinister South African black market arms dealer, gangster, and all-around bad dude, T’Challa is named king and given a strange plant which grants him the superhuman abilities of the mythical Black Panther.
As King T’Challa rises to power, he must face the looming threat of Ulysses Klaue, and his terrorist associates, who have stolen vibranium to augment their own abilities, as well as that of Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan of Friday Night Lights and Creed) an American mercenary and former black-ops soldier with a mysterious intimate knowledge of both T’Challa and the true nation of Wakanda. When Killmonger challenges T’Challa for the right to the throne, the Black Panther must take a stand and face the odds as the fate of both Wakanda and the entire world rest in the balance. There’s more to the story, a lot more, in fact, but in the interest of remaining SPOILER-FREE, I won’t say any more about it all. You’ll just have to go see for yourselves.
As with all MCU movies, the plot does play out pretty much by the book. Marvel has a formula to their films, and given that it absolutely works, they always tend to stick to it. As such, Black Panther is exactly on-par with every other first solo movie of its kind. They use the formula very much to their advantage, establishing a new hero to the MCU, explaining the character’s back-story, and setting up future events, while keeping it action-packed and engaging. Is this formula a bit repetitive with so many others already out there? Well, yes. But at the same time, as the old saying goes, if it’s not broke, why fix it? Marvel Studios has mastered the art of the establishing superhero film, and that is fully on display with this one, thanks in no small part to a stellar cast and crew.
What is new to Black Panther, however, is the significant upgrade in the visuals department. The landscapes and locations used are absolutely stunning; masterfully blending the natural beauty of Africa with the awe-inspiring otherworldly fantasy setting of the ethereal plane that all who eat the mysterious alien plant experience, and the signature high-tech science-fiction that so many Marvel films have seen before. Beyond that, the costume and wardrobe departments do an amazing job of blending traditional East African garb with futuristic sci-fi attire in something of an afro-cyberpunk presentation that really captures the imaginations of the viewers.
Finally, without harping too much on this, Black Panther also serves as a very culturally significant film, bringing to life Marvel’s first African superhero with a predominately black cast and crew, all the while not making it some kind of spectacle or “this is the black version of fill-in-the-blank” thing. The film is presented with the same respect and dignity of any other mainstream superhero film, and that fact alone makes this a giant leap forward for Marvel Studios and film in general.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, Black Panther is another excellent film in the already stellar Marvel Cinematic Universe. The entire cast, especially Boseman and Jordan do an outstanding job of bringing life to the characters, and the cinematographers and editors do an absolutely amazing job with some of the best visuals we’ve seen in any superhero film to date. Marvel Studios sticks to their winning formula, establishes a new hero just in time for the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, and churns out another big hit for audiences to enjoy. Highly recommended. – 9.0/10
Editor/Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine