Movie Review

Black Panther’s successes: political commentary, talented cast, characters

By Weston Brousseau February 21, 2018

As the newest instillation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther is a true work of art and a gold standard of what superhero movies should be. One of the cardinal problems (the kryptonite, if you will) of the MCU—really superheroes as a whole—is weakly written villains. However, the villain Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, is one of the more compelling characters I have seen in any superhero movie, villain or otherwise. Killmonger serves as the movies political commentary on the world today through his juxtaposition with Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, and his own character arc.

The movie does an excellent job of speaking to the nature of what it means to be black anywhere, but it in particular focuses on America’s own history with African Americans. Killmonger plays an african-american son of a Wakandan native, and he follows an almost revenge story throughout the movie. His revenge story is both a personal grudge against T’Challa, or Black Panther, but also a revenge story for the history and oppression of black people. However, the story does not let the political commentary hinder plot or character development.

The characters in Black Panther have some incredible writing behind them that is only highlighted by the uber-talented cast. For example, Okoye, played by Danai Gurira, is probably one of the most badass women to hit the big screen this year, and her presence is felt from the moment she steps on screen to the moment the credits roll. Gurira isn’t the only notable actress, as both Lupita Nyong’o and Letitia Wright seem to steal the show from Boseman. Nyong’o, who plays T’Challa’s love interest, is a wonderfully written character even if Nyong’o’s chemistry with Boseman seems to be lacking throughout the film. Wright, however, shines in her interaction with Boseman as they bring a great sibling rivalry into the film. And Boseman’s portrayal of T’Challa is almost as great, if only limited by Boseman almost overplaying the stoic nature of the king of Wakanda. Regardless, some of the fight scenes in this movie were among the most visually appealing I have ever seen; and director Ryan Coogler should really be applauded for doing such an excellent job.

Black Panther is a truly amazing movie that has been blessed with a talented cast and complex story. Jordan’s acting is especially noteworthy as one of the most interesting and complex villains the MCU has to offer. However, Jordan is complimented by the story that really gives him and every other character room to shine and develop.

I highly encourage that everyone go and see this film, but for MCU fans this film is an absolute must-watch.