By Nathan Richard
Ryan Coogler just keeps on proving that he is one of the best young directors in Hollywood. Black Panther is yet another showcase of his amazing talent. If there was any doubt that Black Panther couldn’t live up to his last films, including the emotional powerhouse Fruitvale Station and the inspiring rebirth of the Rocky franchise in Creed, consider those doubts gone.
Everyone in the cast shines and everyone is able to have their moment. Chadwick Boseman is a great Black Panther and he really does fit the role. However, it is the women of the film and Michael B. Jordan who steal the spotlight. Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, and Lupita N’Yongo are each absolutely terrific and actually add something to the film instead of just being love interests or sidekicks. Another surprise breakout from the film is Winston Duke as M’Baku. This could have easily been a throwaway character, but Duke manages to be a great, charismatic rival to Boseman’s T’Challa.
As for Michael B. Jordan: for the longest time, one of the biggest problems with the MCU has been it’s villains, with the exception of Loki (though is he even a bad guy anymore?), but Marvel has been fixing this with characters such as Ego, Vulture, and Hela. Jordan’s Killmonger is the best villain the MCU has ever had. There is a lot to his character, especially elements that make him feel more human, all of which elevated even more by Jordan’s performance.
On the technical side, Ryan Coogler does a tremendous job with the world building of Wakanda. Not only does it look beautiful and boast some cool visual effects, but it also plays into the story as if it’s a character. The fantastic cinematography also adds a lot to the film. As for emotion, Coogler also does a great job of making the stakes feel real and the threats actually threatening.
The MCU loves to subvert the superhero genre—Winter Soldier was a political thriller, Ant-Man was a heist film, and the Guardians of the Galaxy films are space operas. Black Panther plays out like a spy movie, from its action its locations. There is even a scene that literally takes place at a casino. It feels more like a James Bond movie with Chadwick Boseman in the lead than it does a typical entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As for issues, the film does fall victim to some of the biggest tropes in the MCU, mainly in the third act, though I cannot go into any of that without getting into spoilers. Towards this third act, the CGI becomes a bit too noticeable and almost looks more like a video game than an actual movie, but this never is too bothersome. Aside from these minor problems, Black Panther is easily one of the best entries in the MCU to date. It is action-packed, well-directed, it has something to say, and it has a glowing cast. Definitely check this one out.