Black Panther Pounces On The Screen With Style, Class & Wit
Cecilia Smith | 2/16/2018, 8:30 a.m.
Let’s get straight to the point: when it comes to a Black Panther film, it’s about damn time. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966 - just a few months before the Black Panther Party was founded - his story starts in Wakanda, a fictional African kingdom rich in technology and an almost indestructible material called vibranium, the same thing found in Captain America’s shield.
Making his official debut in the Fantastic Four, T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) would go on to become a star in his own right, joining - and at times leading - the Avengers, fighting Nazis and even marrying Ororo Munroe, better known as Storm. In a sea of white faces, he became the first Black (mainstream) superhero, paving the way for others like Falcon, Vixen, John Stewart’s version of the Green Lantern and more.
After making an appearance in 2016’s blockbuster smash Captain America: Civil War, the King of Wakanda is now stepping into the spotlight for his own feature film, and it’s clear he’s more than able to hold his own. But after breaking ticket sales many are wondering whether the film will live up to the hype, and thankfully, it does.
Opening in Oakland, California - Ryan Coogler’s hometown and the backdrop of the 2013 critically acclaimed Fruitvale Station - Black Panther is unapologetic in embracing its blackness; expertly exploring themes like racism and poverty to reveal how hatred can sew the seeds for even more hatred. Following the death of his father T’Chaka, the new king is tasked with protecting Wakanda from the world, placing him in the middle of a debate over self-preservation versus the greater good.
Enter the film’s main protagonist, Erik Killmonger, portrayed by Michael B. Jordan. The Creed actor shines in the role, taking a hardline against injustice while simultaneously becoming the very thing he hates as he battles Black Panther for the very soul of Wakanda.
Despite clocking in a little over two hours long, the film doesn’t feel bloated at all. In fact, it moves quickly, thanks in part to a well-written storyline that boasts gorgeous scenery and clever laughs along the way. Though an integral part of Marvel’s universe, Black Panther could easily stand alone, drawing strength from an all-star cast that includes Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Sterling K. Brown, Lupita Nyong’o, Daniel Kaluuya, Andy Serkisand, and more.
Serving as visual proof that representation does indeed matter, Black Panther proves that Black Hollywood’s elite is more than capable of producing a box office smash; a fact that many of us have known for years. While Boseman’s natural charisma will once again shine when the character emerges again in Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther will undoubtedly be remembered as one of Marvel’s best - and that’s saying a lot.
Black Panther opens nationwide on Thursday, February 15th.