Reviewed by: Ryan McLelland

When I walked out of Black Panther I went directly onto Facebook and typed the following, “Welp Black Panther may not just be the best Marvel movie of all time and one of the best comic book films of all time…it may be one of the most important films of modern times. Finally Disney managed to do something very right. Six years from now this powerful film will probably be marred by horrid sequels where it’ll be “the funniest Black Panther ever!” But for today – audiences should celebrate the greatness of this film AND what it means.”

Just a few days later I feel the same way, if not more so. The film is breaking box office records not just for the top grossing superhero origin movie opening or best February opening ever, but going beyond all expectations. It is murdering the box office. Some seem surprised at this and I’m shocked that they are surprised. The movie is damn good. Well done. Well acted. Well directed. Great cast. Amazing special effects.

I was thinking that for years to come kids will be dressing as Black Panther. I’m not just talking black kids running around as Black Panther – I mean there may be white kids as well. Now some may then call this racially insensitive or appropriation but I vehemently disagree on this point. Kids want to go out and play as their heroes. I’m not saying a white kid is going out in blackface (THAT would be insensitive) but Black Panther is such an amazing hero that all kids, no matter the race, will want to go out and be this hero. Just as, for many years, kids wanted to go out and be Batman or Superman.

It reminds me of Stranger Things Season 2 when Lucas shows up as the Ghostbuster Venkman. His friend Mike (a white kid), who is also Venkman, is mad that Lucas (a black kid) is dressed for Halloween as a white character and not as Winston – the black Ghostbuster. Lucas doesn’t see “the color” of it – just remarking that Winston isn’t even a scientist. He cares about the character and I really feel that Black Panther embodies that same spirit. You want to be Black Panther because he is an amazing superhero.

The film reuniutes writer/director Ryan Coogler with actor Michael B. Jordan for the first time. Their first film, Fruitvale Station, was a critical hit and the true story of a young man shot by police at a train station. The duo reunited for Creed, the seventh film in the Rocky franchise, which was a massive hit. This then landed Coogler the Black Panther film. A film written by a black man, directed by a black man, starring an almost all black cast, with a budget of over $200 million dollars. In Hollywood this is unheard of. Why? Because usually it is the same old ideas reused over and over agains with black actors sometimes being ignored or being cast in those stereotypical roles (see: Hollywood Shuffle). There is no ignorance here. You don’t have to be black to enjoy the film. The film is outstanding and stands on its own as a fantastic superhero film. But to black audiences there really has never been anything out there like Black Panther.

You can see plenty of $200 million dollar superhero films starring nearly all white casts. You can still enjoy those films. But it is fantastic that Marvel/Disney allowed Coogler to do what he did on the big screen. It paid off wonderfully. Black Panther is truly one of the best Marvel movies if not one of the best superhero films. The past three Marvel films (Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Thor Ragnarok – I won’t count Sony’s Spider-Man Homecoming) relyied way too much on jokey crap that just came off stupid. Lowest common denominator. Most liked this crap but I thought this hokey nonsense was unneeded. I thought it was lazy storytelling. I thought it took away from the films. I was scared for a film like Black Panther. I thought here is a chance for a black superhero to save the day and they were going to ruin the experience by crappy jokes every ten seconds with that horrid Disney/Marvel Studios formula they’ve come up with. No need to worry here because Black Panther doesn’t follow that formula. They have a good story and they tell it. There is a bit of humor in the flick but it never feels forced. The film feels organic. Natural.

So this has turned out to not really be a review but me lamenting on just how important this film is. As for the plot it takes place right after Captain America: Civil War. T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) has returned to his homeland of Wakanda to prepare to become king. There’s a ritual where gorgeous ex-girlfriend Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), sassy sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), Queen Mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett), advisor Zuri (Forest Whitaker), and many Wakandans watch as T’Challa has to stake his claim to the throne over others.

Far from Wakanda, a priceless artifact is stolen by a man known as Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). Killmonger has teamed with baddie Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) who plan to sell the artifact on the black market. The Wakandans find out about the sale and that Klaue is selling it. The Wakandans have a score to settle with Klaue so Black Panther, Nakia, and Okoye (Dania Gurira) – who is the head of Wakanda’s female special forces team – head out to snag Klaue and bring him back to Wakanda to stand trial. But things get more complicated when CIA head Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and Killmonger step in.

What follows is an excellent plot of love, honor, and revenge that I won’t spoil. This movie is too damn good to spoil most of what happens here. As I said – this is a movie to be celebrated. At the end of the day there is not a superhero movie like this out there. For anyone who says, “Well Blade is out there and Blade is a superhero movie!” you need to watch see this film. Blade is a great film about a vampire hunter with special powers, filmed on a modest budget. Black Panther is a true superhero – featuring a black cast and an exceptional budget. Beyond that the movie is just DAMN GOOD. Don’t pass up your opportunity. Get to theaters and marvel (pun intended) at this film. It is a Godsend.

RATING: A+

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