I’ve seen most of the Marvel movies and loved most of the Marvel movies. But don’t ask me to remember who’s who and how they all link together. I can have a reasonable conversation about Infinity stones but I still get confused about who’s who. Luckily, I have an 11 year old son that keeps me in line. He reminds me of the lesser known characters, like War Machine and Vision, and prompts me to learn origin stories as necessary.
But we haven’t really talked much about Black Panther as a superhero. We knew what we knew from his appearance in Captain America: Civil War – T’Challa was the prince of an African nation called Wakanda and operated under the moniker of Black Panther in a high tech cat-like suit. When his father is assassinated, T’Challa takes the reins as the new king of Wakanda.
When the Black Panther movie, opens, we dive right into the origin story. We quickly learned about the Panther Goddess, the sacred lands that are inundated with the precious metal, vibranium, and the rise of Wakanda and its five tribes on these sacred lands.
Then we learn a backstory, a frontstory, and the action picks up pretty close to where it left off in Captain America: Civil War.
For Marvel fans, you’ll pick right up as this story fits neatly into the series and makes references and shows flashbacks that relate to other films. If you’re new to the Marvel franchise, you won’t feel left out at all. This could easily be a standalone story although true fans know that we’re being primed for Infinity Wars.
When I walked out of the press screening, we’re usually asked to give quick feedback about our thoughts on the movie. I answered truthfully. “There was a lot. I liked it but I’m going to have to think about it.” Here’s why.
I did a quick video review of the film where I mentioned that the movie borrowed elements from The Lion King, James Bond, Iron-Man, and maybe even Star Wars. Even after saying it, it sounds like an epic recipe for disaster. And yet, somehow, they made it work.
Part of the charm is that Wakanda is a high tech nation, powered primarily from vibranium, and has kept its elements and technology literally hidden from the rest of the world. For filmmakers, they had the ability to create a city and society where virtually anything is possible. You can heal the sick, power really cool planes, make indestructible suits, and fabricate weapons of mass destruction. And yet, I didn’t roll my eyes once (like I normally would) with an Oh, come on. Vibranium can really do all that?
It was a clever story with an immensely talented cast. (Favorites include Daniel Kaluuya from Get Out and Danai Gurira from The Walking Dead). It was visually stunning and engaging during the entire 2 hours and 20 minutes.
Normally, for a press screening, I’m allowed to take a guest or two. For this screening, it was press ONLY (no guests) and ALL cellphones were confiscated. They’re serious about this movie and I can see why. Not only is a highly entertaining film but I think it will open doors for a whole new genre of Marvel fans. But I still had to reassure my husband and son that I’d go with them and see it a second time.
Also, if you’re wondering about the “stinger” – the little scene at the end of the credits – you’ll definitely get one after the initial cast list. But STAY THROUGH ALL OF THE CREDITS and you’ll get another stinger that ties nicely into Captain America: Civil War.
Because the cast was so outstanding, I wanted to leave you with a few notes that I thought were interesting.
Chadwick Boseman – T’Challa/Black Panther; born in South Carolina, plays his role with an African accent
Michael B. Jordan – Erik Killmonger; his middle name Bakari means “noble promise” in Swahili
Lupita Nyong’o – Nakia; considers herself Mexican-Kenyan, plays her role with an African accent
Danai Gurira – Okoye; born in Iowa, raised in Zimbabwe, plays her role with an African accent, stars as Michonne in The Walking Dead
Martin Freeman – Everett K. Ross; English actor playing his role with an American accent, known for his role as Bilbo Baggins
Daniel Kaluuya – W’Kabi; English actor playing his role with an African accent, known for starring in the recent film Get Out
Letitia Wright – Shuri; from the South American country Guyana, plays her role with an African accent, TOTAL SCENE STEALER!!
There were so many excellent actors like Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Sterling K. Brown, among others.
Now, let me go ahead and say it. If there are doubts about whether a white audience will see a “black” film, as defined by Dustin J. Siebert,
“For the purposes of this piece, a “black” film is one with a primarily black cast and black director. Will Smith- and Denzel Washington-helmed vehicles with nonblack directors, writers and love interests don’t count.”
Black Panther is proof that good acting, good writing, and good filmmaking will bring people who seek quality entertainment.