Marvel ups their level! Black Panther is what Marvel had been scared to do hitherto. That is lower the humour throttle and become really serious with the filmmaking. Bringing Ryan Coogler into the vanguard who had directed the brilliant film Creed in 2015, I think they made a pretty good call.
Black Panther is everything we wanted from a superhero movie, maybe a little bit more action but the exceptional story compensates for it. It has an appreciable plot that gradually unfurls into bigger intricacies.
What happens now determines what happens to the rest of the world.
The African Touch
Wakanda the fictitious city of Marvel is built on a culture that’s centered somewhere in Africa. Ryan made sure that the Wakandans were heavily influenced by the mannerism and style thus successfully painting a next to real picture about a place that doesn’t exist. It’s like moulding a comic impeccably into a reality.
Wakanda puts something contrasting about the image the world holds about a place like Africa. It is like a poor child’s dream who wishes to roll the dice and change his fate. It is the ultimate contrast where the less fortunate are extremely blessed. All they are trying to do is hide what they have from a ravenous world.
I have seen gods fly. I have seen men build weapons that I couldn’t even imagine. I have seen aliens drop from the sky. But I have never seen anything like this.
Whilst Wakandans have a hard time grasping the concept of sharing, it is understandable why someone would keep something so powerful as Vibranium for themselves. The Black Panther movie still, however, tries to change that by showing this transformation of ideologies by delving into “why the good in the world should be apportioned”.
For a threat that is imminent in the form of Thanos, it only provides an icing of perfection to what is about to go down. It was an ingenious build up and you cannot write it off as mere luck.
Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger (Minor Spoilers)
Black Panther movie becomes more thoughtful and cognitive as it proceeds. There is something insanely sympathetic about its antagonist Erik Killmonger portrayed by Michael B. Jordan that would leave you feeling sorry for him when the movie actually fades.
Wronged by T’Challa’s father sat a poor child in Erik who only had his father’s stories for conversations. Bereaved of a childhood with no one to care for, becoming a villain was inevitable. You don’t know that but you see that gradually happen when he shows up at the door of Wakanda asking for his birthright.
I’ve waited my whole life for this. The world’s going to start over. Imma burn it all!
Was he capable? Yes! He defeats the king in a fair fight, announcing his arrival as the new king of Wakanda. The only problem being his motives were ulterior. He wished the world to get a taste of what Wakanda was trying to hide. If you rule that out, you realize Killmonger was too good a villain. The one who had capabilities to drive his claws into superheroes and bring them down.
The most crushing moment is the tete-a-tete with his father N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown) where he transforms into a kid trying to reason with his life. There is so much hatred in him for the Wakandans that it is futile for N’Jobu to make him understand that the path he had set out on only houses destruction. That child had carved a purpose for himself that avenged not only his father but a deprived life. Michael B. Jordan, by the way, is outstanding as Erik Killmonger.
Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, cause they knew death was better than bondage.
Whilst there are reasons enough to go gaga over the villains, nothing compares to what T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) was dealing with. He held immense veneration for a father who did something terrible to Erik as a child. He is fighting his father’s image, literally boiling his insides up trying to make sense of why T’Chaka (John Kani) left the poor child behind. That has clearly crushed him mentally making him more susceptible to enemy attacks.
You are a good man, with a good heart. And it’s hard for a good man to be a king.
T’Challa’s revival has been beautifully timed when the world is about to go down in cinders. As he is about to metamorphose into the Black Panther, he once again encounters his father’s soul. This time with tons of questions in his head.
A man who has not prepared his children for his own death has failed as a father.
T’Challa resuscitates with a clear conscience focusing on what he has to do wiping off his slate of anxiety.
I did not yield! And as you can see, I am not dead! The challenge continues!
The end result this time boils down to simple awareness and he becomes successful in stopping Killmonger from spreading his perversion. He does the right thing eventually opening gates of Wakanda’s knowledge for the rest of the world.
The illusions of division threaten our very existence. We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe.
M’Baku (Winston Duke) comes strong as a helper from a mountain tribe Jabari, even though the entire tribe is not on good terms with T’Challa’s people.
If you say one more word, I’ll feed you to my children! I am kidding. We are vegetarians.
Andy Serkis‘ Klaue is another one of those brilliantly executed villains. He lands in a rabid colloquy in place filling up the screen time with extraordinary delivery. You know whenever his bit comes, there’s something interesting about to go down. His fate, even though magnificently fills in the plot, appears like a cheap shot.
I made it rain!
Bottom-line – Serkis deserved more screen time, the villain was yet to showcase his skills for crying out loud. With Black Panther his fate was sealed with Marvel, and that I think was a huge bummer.
Another one of those roles that matter the most is that of Shuri (Letitia Wright), sister of T’Challa. Her scientific creations are next to none. The brother-sister relation between them puts a smile on your face. You instantly know she is very important, proven thus by that Winter Soldier (Bucky) cameo in the end.
Another broken white boy to fix.
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Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), T’Challa’s ex, brings home that emotional angle to the story providing him the mental support he lacks.
You cannot let your father’s actions define your life. You get to decide what kind of king you want to be.
Her wisdom supersedes people which is her true strength. Lupita fills Nakia up with realism.
Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman) is that eye who brings home that third-party perspective to an ongoing resplendence. It is like a marveling eye that reflects ‘us’, the spectators, in those frames.
Okoye cannot be forgotten either. She makes her presence felt by being one of the finest warriors of Wakanda. Her loyalty to her king and her allegiance to what is right, comes under the cross-hair when she finally decides to take a call.
You are so full of hatred, you will never be a true king!
The Final Verdict
Black Panther’s true strength lies in its ability of story-telling. Ryan Coogler wasn’t afraid to experiment even though it stretched the story a tad too much, like by showing the ancestral meeting (the process right after consuming the heart-shaped flower) thrice in the flick. It was crucial to the plot and he made sure that he took his time with it. It is beautifully done and literally fills the movie with emotional substance.
Its action is a tad less when you pick up all the prequels and line it up against Black Panther. It is a little bit slow paced as Ryan Coogler prefers it. But I don’t think it has affected the movie at all by the way it has been wrapped.
There are barriers it breaks, lives it affects with its storytelling as it packs in hope building that staircase to the upcoming spectacle Avengers: Infinity Wars.