It has taken me quite some time, and multiple viewings, before I was able to figure out how to express what a joy Black Panther is. I was completely and utterly blown away. Every aspect of this film was well thought out and executed to perfection from the music, the well choreographed fight scenes, all the way through to small details such as wardrobe and language choices.
The character development in Black Panther exceeds anything Marvel has put out so far. Michael B Jordan playing the role of Killmonger was an absolute joy to behold. Never has there been a villain you sympathized with, understood where his anger is based, and maybe not necessarily root for him but you do hope for some sort of closure for him. One of my favorite scenes was the transition of power from T’Challa to Killmonger. Killmonger orders all of the heart shaped herbs, meant for future kings, to be burned. The camera pans out and Killmonger becomes just a shadow surrounded by fire and it is such a powerful scene. The fire was a palpable force to demonstrate his rage and determination. T’Challa very much operated from a place of love and humility whereas Killmonger was the opposite. This juxtaposition was further demonstrated when each of them entered the place of their ancestors. While T’Challa was received by all the royalty in his line, Killmonger was back in his apartment in the projects, back to being a frightened child.
The best aspect of this film was the portrayal of the women. Each was strong and served a purpose in her own way from the fearsome Dora Milaje to the brilliant Princess Shuri. The fight scene at the casino was magnificent to watch (director Ryan Coogler does a breakdown of this scene and I highly recommend you all check that out). Danai Gurira, playing the role of Okoye, really mastered fighting with a staff. She looked so incredibly graceful and strong in that scene. When she uses her wig as a weapon and throws it at her enemy I yelled! That was so real to me it was unbelievable. That is actually why I adored Lupita Nyong’o’s character, Nakia. She was scrappy, having been a spy and needing to utilize whatever tools were at her disposal at that time. When you compare the ideaologies of Nakia and Killmonger you start to see that they are pretty similar. It really demonstrated that motives matter. Nakia and Killmonger both wanted to help the disenfranchised of the world – Killmonger just thought the way to do that was through violence.
I could go on for days, breaking down each scene and stating why I thought it was relevant or why I loved it. Ryan Coogler did a phenomenal job. He was able to create something so culturally relevant while also managing to stay true to the comic book nostalgia that the Marvel cinematic universe creates. If you haven’t already, stop what you are doing and rush to your nearest theater to go see Black Panther. I promise that you will not be disappointed.