Long live the King. All hail the Black Panther.
Despite I already reviewed a bunch of movies, is still very difficult to open one for a film you have a great amount of praise for. Why? Because no one wants to be cheesy and wants to be as direct and honest as possible.
Black Panther is indeed deserving of all the praise is getting, although I don’t think people are wording it correctly, so to speak.
The greatest power of the movie is the writing.
From one side, it continues the tradition of MCU films of creating realistic and empathic personalities, this time around expanding it to the surrounding characters. By the time the climax battle arrives, we all know everyone’s ideas and goals, and we exactly know who they are fighting for and their motivations for their stands. Which, honestly, it is a great achievement by itself.
Yes, this movie has maybe a sort of ethical message into it. However, it is perfectly combined with the project.
Whereas Wonder Woman wasn’t written nor directed as a feminist movie, but it was forced to be one by the media (mostly ‘in-spite’ of the political context), Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole perfectly fit the ideological – rather than cultural or political – context not only into the story, but in Black Panther and his world mythology.
The two writers, in fact, took on Wakanda: the African country is in fact incredibly advanced, both technologically and ideologically (it is, in fact, an egalitarian even though and everyone has its own role), but hide itself into the world in order to protect their main source, the vibranium (which we already met in Age of Ultron). Of course, this brings a lot of questions, not last about humanitarian help, which all are at very least brought up in the movie itself.
The result? Not only it doesn’t feel forced at all, but on the contrary, it feels natural and it doesn’t take away the focus from the actual story.
But most importantly helps the audience to relate and understand the characters – giving them more depth that we have ever seen in the MCU.
And certainly helps all the performances we see, in particular, Michal B. Jordan’s Kilmonger, the main villain, and the most important and alive in the franchise since Loki. We feel for him and understand him, and while we don’t really fear him that much (given it’s the first solo film of the character and he is coming back in Infinity War), we actually believe he could be successful. Which is definitely a plus if you ask me.
All the other side character have a very precise role and by the end of the movie we remember all of them – and we can’t wait to meet them again in Infinity War, and see how will they react.
Another extraordinary feature though is how amazingly we feel Wakanda. It does really feel a different world despite it keeps feeling like an African country. It looks like it was almost treated as a character on its own.
Action wise, the movie is very similar to Creed, the Rocky movie also directed by Ryan Coogler. All of them are beautifully coordinated and shot, as you have a clear idea what all important characters are doing.
Overall, you’re getting out of the theater desiring for more standalone, but at the same time, you can’t wait to see Wakanda as the background for one of the battles of Infinity War.
Certainly, though, Coogler’s Black Panther shows the great potential of the Marvel Cinematic Universe if the parallels with our world are not only tackled in an implicit metaphorical subtext but also taken head-on.
Long live the king. All hail Black Panther.