Reviewed by Kober Garner and Brian Fisher
“Black Panther” is the first Marvel movie of 2018, and it’s a fantastic way to kick off what is sure to be one of the best years for Marvel films. The film is another solid entry in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), but story-wise it isn’t anything special. The story was fun and interesting enough to keep my attention but I wouldn’t call it particularly memorable. The elements that elevate this movie are its fantastic soundtrack, which rivals “The Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, its setting and characters.
The Black Panther has a solid cast of fun characters, but out of all the most entertaining is Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal of T’Challa and Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger. You would think so much talent in one place would be a distraction but it was quite the opposite. T’Challa (Chadwick Bozeman) challenges for rights to King of Kawanda and Black Panther. His first task as King is to capture “Claw” the killer of King T’Challa, when he’s not able to do so things get interesting. After Killmonger (Michael B Jordan) finds his way to Wakanda to challenge for a position as King, T’Challa must fight to defend life as he knows it.
Boseman as T’Challa is a calm, quick-witted character with a big heart. It is easy to sympathize with his struggles and root for his success, he is very much a likable character and is driving force behind the movies enjoyment. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger is a great foil. He is quick to anger and violence, but at the same time, he is sympathetic as well. His reasons for his actions are based on good intentions, so while you root for his downfall, you are aware that he was trying to address real problems. It is the classic, “good intentions, but how they go about is wrong”.
The film is set in the highly advanced African civilization of Wakanda. It is such a unique setting as it pulls from sci-fi and traditional African tribalism. Africa and its tribes aren’t always represented well in movies, so this movie ellequnently showcases it all. “Panther” breaks down barriers and hopefully launches filmmaking into a new era of diversity and representation.
The sound is where the movie truly shines. The biggest critiques of Marvel films in recent history is their forgettable soundtracks, with the exception of “Guardians.” This movie actively fixes that, with a soundtrack featuring hip-hop giants such as Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz and The Weeknd.
The use of these soundtracks paired with traditional African music creates a dichotomy that blends urban and tribal life. The music in every scene takes your experience to the next level. Passive viewers at films might not realize how much sound can enhance a films experience. But what would “Guardians of the Galaxy” be without its retro 80’s music, what would “Star Wars” be with a John Williams orchestral score? Music helps greatly with immersion and “Black Panther” nails this on the head.
Black Panther is an entertaining entry in the MCU. It benefits from great leads, new and interesting setting, and a phenomenal soundtrack. Its only drawback is a story that times tended to drag on, and trying to pander to youth by bringing back a meme that has been dead since 2015.
Black Panther is now in theaters.