Movie Beat: ‘Black Panther’ one of the greatest Marvel films of all time
By Jenniffer Wardell
Rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief rude gesture
Screenplay by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, based on the comics by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Directed by Ryan Coogler
Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and more.
Grade: Four stars
Long live the king.
”Black Panther,” opening this weekend, is the crown jewel in Marvel’s ever-expanding movie kingdom. The movie transcends the usual superhero formula, delivering an epic, moving and ultimately profound look at responsibility, choices, and what we ultimately owe each other and the world as a whole.
The movie starts soon after the end of “Captain America: Civil War,” with T’Challa heading back to Wakanda to be crowned king. His rule promises to have a rocky start, however, when an old enemy resurfaces and long-buried secrets finally come to light. As alliances shift and the future of both Wakanda and the entire world hang in the balance, T’challa must decide for himself what it truly means to be king.
Director and co-writer Ryan Coogler has delivered a royal epic that Shakespeare himself would have applauded, far more nuanced and insightful than most of the royal epics I’ve seen. The responsibilities of leadership are interrogated in detail, with all sides seen in a well-rounded and non-demonized way. Coogler’s conclusion is a powerful, timely message for every single person in the audience, one that only deepens and enriches the story he’s telling.
Chadwick Boseman is absolutely fantastic as T’Challa, full of all the dignity befitting a prince but still clearly very human. His relationship to his little sister Shuri is a particular delight, tender but also full of the sort of affectionate harassment any sibling will be familiar with.
Michael B. Jordan is also wonderful as Killmonger, full of rage and so deeply wounded that you hurt for him even as you’re frightened of him.
I could go on for pages about every single woman in this movie, from brilliant, excited Shuri to compassionate, fierce Nakia. All of the Dora Milaje are a delight, but General Okoye is particularly excellent. She, too, has to wrestle with the question of where her responsibilities lie, and though the debate is given less time the movie still gives it the weight it deserves.
The women also dominate the fight scenes in the best possible way. If you’ve ever yearned to watch powerful women fighting for a righteous cause and look incredibly cool doing it, then “Black Panther” is the movie for you. My inner action fan wanted to spend the entire movie cheering, and I would have bowed down at the feet of any of these ladies and offered them all the adulation they deserved for their sheer magnificence.
“Black Panther” deserves the same adulation.
(Photo © Disney/Marvel)