‘Black Panther’ is everything we wanted and more

Ty Davis

Very few movies can rival the anticipation “Black Panther” has amassed, even when compared to other Marvel Studios films.

It takes little effort to see why—a talented, majority Black cast, lead by a noteworthy Black director, with an Afrofuturist setting. Whether or not this move failed—as if that were going to be a possibility for the film studio that does not even have “failure” in its vernacular, and with the film already projected to smash box office records—one thing is certain, the film industry will not be the same again.

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For various reasons this review will not contain a summary of the plot. I think it is for the best if most of the plot points, even the early ones are a surprise. 

Marvel Studios has been subtly breaking away from the Marvel filmmaking formula for a while now, but “Black Panther” is the first film in the franchise that has accomplished it. “Black Panther” is only a Marvel movie in logos, otherwise it is a wholly new superhero movie straight from the mind of writer and director Ryan Coogler, previously known for “Creed” and “Fruitvale Station.” The usual strings of Marvel films are not here to control the direction, pacing, or tone of the film this time. Much more freedom was clearly given to Ryan Coogler in order to handle this property with the care it deserved, and the result is a superhero film with all the quality set pieces and resources but taken in a new direction.

 

From top to bottom this film is overflowing with style.

 

“Black Panther” is easily one of the most visually stunning movies I have seen in a long time. American films usually use a muted color pallet, only ever really emphasizing blue and orange, but “Black Panther’s” colors are so vibrant, so full and diverse, you would swear up and down it was not an American film.

The overall design from the sets, to the costumes, to the small expressions of culture inspired by various African cultures makes “Black Panther” a visual flourish. From top to bottom this film is overflowing with style.

One detail that separates “Black Panther” from the rest of the Marvel cinematic universe is that it is more of a drama than an action film. There are disillusioned relationships, family infighting and relationship shake ups that keep you more invested in the lives of the characters than the actual events, despite the consequences being global.

Another highlight of the film are the characters, each one, even the smallest characters, have so much personality in them. Letita Wright is hilarious as Shuri, who is the sister of T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman. Forest Whitaker gives a spectacular performance as Zuri, the king’s adviser. Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia and Danai Gurira’s Okiya have more three-dimensionality as supporting characters than most film protagonists.

But the real stars of the show are Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa and Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger. Boseman kills it as the smooth and determined but noble Black Panther. Boseman manages to pull of an distinct and dynamic performance in a superhero/leader role, a role commonly known for being bland. T’Challa’s journey is an emotionally straining one and Boseman carries it well.

 

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“Black Panther” set a new record for movies released in February, earning an estimated $25.2 million on its opening day in U.S. theaters. 

 

But Jordan almost steals the show with his performance as Killmonger. This character will go down as one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s greatest. Not only is this a villain with a sympathetic origin story, but also a relatable cause that even the protagonists of the film cannot deny that, at its core, is morally pure, despite Killmonger’s overzealous methods. Killmonger is charismatic, intelligent, relatable and sympathetic, and there are not many Marvel villains you can say that about. Jordan is showing he is one the most talented actors in the industry today.

To go in depth with the themes would give too much away about the film, but what I will say is that writers are getting very good at slipping poignant messages into Disney films without raising the eyebrows of Disney’s executives. “Black Panther” can stand on its own from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also deliver a desperately needed, relevant message.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to buy a “Black Panther” shirt and represent it like there is no tomorrow.

Ty Davis can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or @tydavisACW