The 476th Film I have seen in theaters…
Marvel strikes gold yet again with a film that is touching a lot of people.
Following the death of King T’Chaka in “Civil War”, his son, T’Challa, assumes the throne. He faces a choice to keep his highly advanced nation of Wakanda a secret from the world or to reveal themselves and share their technology with everyone. A secret cousin, N’Jadaka, “Killmonger”, returns to Wakanda and assumes the throne, deposing T’Challa. He must now find new allies as he fights to stop Killmonger who is now dead set on conquering the world.
Chadwick Boseman has finally redeemed himself for Gods of Egypt. lol. He turned in a fantastic performance as T’Challa. He brought all the qualities needed for this role, strength, honor, humor. I love how they have developed him here.
Killmonger might be my favorite Marvel villain aside from Loki. This was a fully realized character that really was not evil. He was a product of his circumstances who was truly wronged by his Uncle T’Chaka. Michael B Jordan continues to make a case for being one of the best actors of his generation.
Lupita Nyong’o is Nakia, who was actually a villain in the comics named Malice. She is rewritten as T’Challa’s love interest/ally in the battle for Wakanda. Lupita is on a tear right now. The last few years have seen her catapult to the forefront of the industry, deservedly so.
Danai Gurira, Michonne herself, appears as Okoye, General, and leader of the Wakandan Special Forces. My God, was she badass. She also look phenomenal without hair. She was a highlight of the film.
Daniel Kaluuya is W’Kabi, a friend of T’Challa and boyfriend of Okoye, that sides with Killmonger. I get his motivations to join the bad guy, but I am not sure if the film really pulled it off. I didn’t buy his flipping on T’Challa.
Letitia Wright is Shuri, T’Challa’s genius sister. She is the brains behind many of Wakanda’s amazing technology. She’s not the equal of Tony Stark, she is better than Stark. Her character was well written and Wright brought a great amount of fun to her portrayal.
Winston Duke steals most of his scenes as M’Baku, “Man-Ape”, leader of the Mountain tribe that takes uses Ape iconography. This guy was awesome. He was a physical threat, honorable, and delivers what I think is the best joke of the film. Watch this guy, he’s got star potential.
Forest Whitaker is Zuri, a religious leader in Wakanda. Whitaker brings something special to every role he takes on. He was fantastic here.
Angela Bassett is Ramonda, T’Challa’s mother. A minor role, she brings a lot of power to the role. I 100% buy Bassett as a Queen.
It was good to see the amazing John Kani return as T’Chaka. Aside from some flashbacks, we see him interact with his son through the spiritual realm of the Black Panthers. A great actor.
This film is getting a lot of attention for having a mostly black cast. I do enjoy that the 2 “Token” white guys in the film are actually “Tolkein” white guys! Martin Freeman (Bilbo) reunites with his Hobbit co-star Andy Serkis (Gollum) to play CIA agent Ross and the evil Ulysses Klaue. Serkis in particular chews up scenery as Klaue.
Going into this weekend, a few people I know were doing the “Is it really good or is just the media hyping up the black thing?”. This was followed by their comments that ” just because he’s a black hero doesn’t mean its a big deal”. Guess what? It is a big deal. This is a big budget franchise film with a mostly black cast that celebrates African culture. I can recognize how important that is to lots of people, it’s not my culture but I have an in-law that is from Africa. I went to a theater and it was 75% Black, it is normally the opposite. This theater was also completely full. Little boys and girls were full on acting out the battles of this film as they walked out. The adults went in proudly wearing their Dashikis and Kufis. All this alone was incredibly moving to be a part of. They were able to enjoy this movie on a whole different level than I can.
All of that, while awesome, is not this film’s true strength. This movie is GOOD. VERY GOOD. It keeps the Marvel mix of action and humor but goes full Shakespearian with a tale of Kings, betrayal, and usurpers. Ryan Coogler, who’s first 2 films were fantastic (Fruitvale Station and Creed). Rachel Morrison’s Cinematography was incredible This movie was beautiful to watch. The Production design was on point and I think this film is an early contender for the Costume Oscar. This was a hell of an achievement and one of the best Marvel films. I am SO excited to return to Wakanda in Infinity War, after a couple more screenings of this of course.