Keepin it Reel: “Black Panther”

“Black Panther” is a film that has received endless praise and acclaim for featuring a diverse cast, as well as building on a character previously established into Marvel’s cinematic universe, which currently consists of 18 films. Although the trend of a superhero origin story seems somewhat outdated and pointless in the comic book obsessed world we are living in, “Black Panther” attempts to tell a different type of origin story and succeeds in countless ways as the film progresses.

Perhaps one of the film’s strongest qualities is the sense of direction. Directed by Ryan Coogler, the 31-year-old has quite the filmography and is no stranger to franchise films. Now, Coogler has jumped to the superhero genre and has delivered a breathtaking, exciting and different experience than what most fans are used to, but in the best way possible.

When it comes to traditional superhero movies, there seems to be a formulaic structure that allows us to kind of pick up on what will happen next in the story. Considering Marvel’s critical and commercial success, the formula is nothing to complain about, but nonetheless sometimes delivers less than stellar films. However, “Black Panther” subverts all expectations and creates a superhero film like none other. Making the bold risk to break formula, the film follows Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa as he attempts to step forth and take the throne as the ruler of the secret (and well fortified) African nation of Wakanda, following the death of his father in “Captain America: Civil War.” However, when Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger threatens to expose the nation’s technological advances and tear apart Wakanda from the inside, it is up to T’Challa to step up and become the hero he was destined to become: the Black Panther.

Everything from the film’s cinematography, world-building and action sequences are dazzling, creating an engaging experience from start to finish. Each scene seems to stand out for a different reason, making the film have an identity of its own. But perhaps one of the biggest things that stuck out to me was the original score, which combines African drums and modern cinematic music to create something that flows well with the film. Music isn’t to be taken for granted, and although typical moviegoers might not pick up on it, the score certainly helps drive certain story beats along in grand fashion.

Every single performance in the film is honestly phenomenal, which results in the characters themselves being incredibly strong and emotionally charged. You really want T’Challa to succeed, but not because he’s the hero we’re automatically supposed to cheer on. Essentially, the character’s struggle between wanting to rule the nation and also protect it as the Black Panther creates an internal struggle that’s just as captivating as the villain tearing the nation apart. Jordan’s Killmonger is one of the best villains in any comic book film of recent years and is possibly the best villain thus far out of Marvel’s 18 other films. How Jordan expresses a mix of modern politics and pure rage is astounding, resulting in his character being one of the best parts of the film. The best kinds of villains in cinema and literature are the ones that have purpose, priority and relatability, all of which Jordan’s Killmonger shares.

Although the film’s main protagonist and antagonist shine, even the smaller characters are developed and have purpose. Lupita Nyong’o and Letitia Wright are both fantastic to watch as their characters, Nakia and Shuri, respectively. Despite being side characters, they add a lot of humor to a tense situation, which allows the audience to have moments to catch their breath after various trials T’Challa has to face.

My only real complaint with “Black Panther” is that some of the film’s visual effects and computer-generated imagery seem to be unfinished. The effects were not always that great and sometimes took me out of important moments due to everything feeling fake for a certain amount of time. But overall, “Black Panther” is an achievement for both the superhero genre and for cinema. This is a film I recommend for countless reasons. You don’t want to miss out on this one.