“Black Panther” Film Review

Black-Panther-TChalla-poster

Black Panther movie review

Hello my intrepid movie goers! Have you ever seen a movie that really made think and managed to do so through a very convincing story? Aye, that’s what I’m writing about today. Black Panther tells the story of a young ascendant king bound for greatness. He is in the shadow of a tradition of great kings before him. These kings all held the mantle of Black Panther and these same monarchs ruled Wakanda through an isolationist policy. This movie tackles the issues of social responsibility and racial divides very directly and intensely. This film is not just a boon for African Americans it is a boon to all colored peoples facing racial prejudice and economic hardship.

T'Challa and Nakia
T’challa and his love interest, Nakia, in Busan, South Korea (undercover)

Our movie starts with a flashback to a small apartment in the ghetto of Oakland, California. A young man plots a robbery with his associate before being interrupted by a man clad in black feline armor. The young man, named N’Jobu, pleads his loyalty to the king (T’Chaka) and reveals he is an undercover agent to Wakanda. N’Jobu has enmeshed himself in the local culture; becoming Americanized and even pleading the king of Wakanda do something for the impoverished community of the slums. The king accidentally kills N’Jobu when he resists returning home. Outside the apartment building a small boy catches a glimpse of the Wakandan hovercraft flying away.

In present day, the young T’Challa is about to formally assume the mantle of Black Panther in his country. The film shows us flashbacks of ‘Captain America: Civil War’ in which the then king, T’Chaka, was killed by Zemo. This establishes for the viewers that T’Challa did indeed become king of Wakanda in the eyes of all the world (through his father’s passing) but not officially within his own country.

t'challa and his father
T’Challa and his father, T’Chaka, before the fatal bombing in Vienna

T’Challa undergoes the trial of battle in which any Wakandan can fight the young prince for the title of Black Panther. If they were to succeed not even T’Challa’s lineage allows him to claim the throne. He is challenged by the physically impressive M’Baku. T’Challa prevails and tells the worthy contender to live for his people. M’Baku accepts.

The new king mingles with his subjects Shuri (his sister), W’Kabi and his right hand woman Okoye. W’Kabi reminds the king of the mercenary criminal Ulysses Klaue’s (Klaue was a minor character in “Avengers: Age of Ultron”) devastation of Wakanda. He urges T’Challa to bring back the Dutch felon to Wakanda to pay for his crimes. T’Challa agrees and sets out to Busan, South Korea with his bodyguard Okoye and his love interest Nakia.

Black-Panther
T’Challa returns home to begin the ceremony alongside Okoye and Nakia

The trio find the one-armed thief and a fight ensues. CIA Agent Everett Ross (also in “Captain America: Civil War”) gets involved and Klaue is captured. Before Ross can question T’Challa about Klaue’s allegations the facility is broken into and a villainous duo escapes with Klaue. Ross is severely injured in the line of fire trying to protect Nakia. This prompts the trio to take Ross with them back to Wakanda. We learn that W’Kabi is not pleased with T’Challa, blaming him for his escape. Meanwhile Klaue’s henchman, Erik Stevens, turns on Klaue, killing him and his other associate.

Before long Erik Stevens arrives at Wakanda’s border demanding to be allowed in. W’Kabi goes out to meet him and finds the body of Klaue as token of Erik’s good favor. T’Challa does research on this new visitor to his kingdom, discovering that he is in fact a blood thirsty mercenary responsible for the deaths of hundreds. So notorious was his fame that he earned the nickname ‘Killmonger.’

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Killmonger (with iconic mask) and cohorts plan to break out Klaue

Killmonger arrives in the throne room and takes a good look at his surroundings. He tells the royal elite that they do nothing for their own kind. He adds that Wakanda’s greatness is stunted by their isolationist policies. T’Challa, outraged, orders him removed. Killmonger shouts in defiance the name of his father, N’Jobu and shows them the ring of the royal family. The death dealer reveals to them that T’Chaka, the previous king, murdered his own brother who turned out to be Killmonger’s father. He reveals to the court, and the audience, that he is full of hate and revenge; he wants to claim the throne and kill the son of his father’s murderer. The king’s court is stunned. Killmonger demands to challenge T’Challa for the throne of Wakanda immediately.

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Erik Killmonger stands before the King of Wakanda

T’Challa, not backing down from a fight, accepts the challenge and meets Killmonger at the falls where he faced M’Baku. As per the ritual, Black Panther is stripped of his powers to make the fight fair. Killmonger bests him in physical combat, having had more extensive combat training without powers. Zuri, the seer, tells Killmonger that he is the cause for his father’s death, not T’Challa. Killmonger kills Zuri and throws T’Challa’s motionless body over the falls.

Nakia, Ramonda (T’Challa’s mother) and Shuri  flee the kingdom begging Okoye to join them. Okoye in a Heimdall-like fashion claims loyalty to the throne no matter who sits on it. Undeterred, the three women, along with a healed Everett Ross, run to M’Baku’s territory in the mountains. There they find the proud tribesman sitting on his throne. They beg for his help but he refuses. In fact, M’Baku reveals to them he had saved T’Challa’s near lifeless corpse from fading by preserving him in snow. Ramonda gives T’Challa the healing potion, which causes him to enter a hallucinogenic state (also at the beginning, and Killmonger experiences this as well in his ritual) in which he confronts his father. T’Challa confronts his father reprimanding him for leaving behind his own nephew abandoned and fatherless. He tells him that the old ways must change. With this new change of mind T’Challa emerges from the snow ready to challenge Killmonger for his throne.

killmonger
The new king with new costume

Our heroes return to the capital where Killmonger is changing the country to a warlike state. He demands that all wardogs (sleeper agents) arise and terrorize the world. He even mobilizes drop ships to arm them. Killmonger urges them to show the world what Wakanda is really like. W’Kabi, tired of indecision and failure rallies to his cause along with all the male warriors. Okoye, upon learning Killmonger’s foul plans, decides to rebel. Her female warriors join her ranks and battle the men. Black Panther arrives and fights the male warriors ant their vibranium-clad rhinos (Cool)!

Finally, Black Panther faces Killmonger one on one. Killlmonger sports a variation of the Panther armor touched up with leopard spots. The two are evenly matched and the fight descends to the train tracks I the Vibranium minds. The magnetic charge nullifies the Panther armor whenever the train passes through. The hero and villain fight in between trains and after them.

Shuri and Ross successfully take out the drop ships and escape the throne room. Okoye successfully defeats W’Kabi, her lover. She tells him to yield. He questions her asking if she would truly kill him. The proud warrioress declares that she would…for Wakanda.

Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHERL to R: Black Panther/T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan)  Ph: Film Frame ©Marvel Studios 2018
The two Panthers fight in the rail passage

Meanwhile the Panther and Killmonger fight on and on scratching, clawing and punching one another. A knife is introduced to the fight. T’Challa, seeing no end in sight, grabs the knife and somersaults in the air stabbing Killmonger just when a train passes and the suit is vulnerable. “Nice move.” says a defeated Killmonger. Black Panther helps his foe to his feet. Killmonger says he wishes to see the sunset. T’Challa, overcome with compassion, offers to take the dying man to the lab where he can heal him. Killmonger refuses saying he wishes to be no slave. “Throw my body in the ocean just like my ancestors.” He utters these words before removing the knife from his chest, killing himself in the process.

T’Challa, moved by Killmonger’s tragic upbringing and his sad end decides to visit Killmonger’s childhood dwelling in Oakland, California. The new king and Shuri smile as he reveals he will share Wakanda’s technology with the world; unveiling a hovercraft to local children in Oakland. He follows this up with a public statement in the United Nations in which T’Challa says the world is ‘his people.’

This movie contained a very touching story and is a timeless work of art. “Black Panther” conveys the deepest messages of racial discrimination, social responsibility and racial identity in an ever globalizing world. I think that anyone who watches this film whether they enjoy the story or not can take away important timeless lessons that will be relevant for generations to come.

Movie Score: 9.1

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Hovercraft flying over Wakanda’s capital city

Highs: Good story, good characters, exceptional dialogue, wonderful wardrobes and set pieces and a consistent plot

Lows: Not enough villains, no Avengers cameos, not enough explanation for W’Kabi’s motivations

Thanks for reading

 

Links:

Chad Boseman talks the impact of Black Panther on the Black Community

Letitia Wright interview

Groundbreaking Impact of Black Panther

Hollywood Impact of Black Panther

 

 

 

 

 

 

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