We’re almost at the ten-year point for the MCU. So how does the last film of their first decade stack up? Spoiler-free review of Black Panther incoming!
What’s it about?
The newly-crowned king of the hidden nation Wakanda must take up the mantle of the Black Panther, a mythical superhero, to protect his people from an outsider who seeks to steal their greatest resource, the incredible mineral vibranium. But he soon finds out that the threat isn’t only to his kingdom; it’s to the entire world.
Is it any good?
- Yes, consistently and completely. The movie knows what it’s trying to do and does so quite admirably. It’s well-paced and well-directed, with the pieces of the plot meshing together quite well.
- Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa immediately commands respect, just as he did in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.
But the ensemble which surrounds him is so phenomenal that his performance is elevated even further. In particular, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, and Danai Gurira are absolutely stunning; and Letitia Wright’s turn as Shuri is scene-stealing. She was magnetic and quirky, but still managed to acquit herself with perfectly-tuned gravitas when necessary.
- The design, costuming, and effects were fantastic. It’s so tough to create something that doesn’t exist in the first place, but to create something that doesn’t exist based on something that did once exist? It’s just so interesting and beautiful to look at.
- The music is a beautiful blend of typical Marvel bombastic orchestra with a traditional African sound. I’d say it’s one of the most unique soundtracks I’ve heard in years.
Should I see it?
Definitely. Much has been made of its (nearly) all-black main cast and director, as well as its remarkable depiction of an African nation which was never blighted by the slave trade; that is certainly notable, and reason enough to see it. But it’s also a fantastically consistent and bold film, refusing to fall into the trap of treading lightly on a superhero introduction.
What spiritual themes should I watch for?
Keep an eye out for examinations of the shadow and sins of the father, as well as wrestling with the duty of those with a gift to use it as a blessing to the world. Look at what happens to the royals in exile, as well as the dichotomy of bridges and barriers.
(And, don’t forget, it’s a Marvel movie; there are two end-credits scenes!)