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'Black Panther' is a Marvel film to be remembered. (photo via @blackpanther Instagram)

Film Review: 'Black Panther' is a phenomenon that lives up to its hype

Marvel’s Black Panther is expected to earn more than $200 million during its opening weekend. It has already broken the record for the biggest-ever February opening. It has a 97 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and it became the most tweeted-about film of the year nearly a week before it was released. Simply put, it’s a phenomenon — and it lives up to the hype.

Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, the young ruler of Wakanda, whose father’s untimely death places him on the throne of his reclusive African nation. Additionally, he is the Black Panther, the catsuit-clad protector of Wakanda who was first featured in Captain America: Civil War.

Because fans got their first look at T’Challa in 2016, his solo film has been highly anticipated by more-than-dedicated disciples of Marvel Studios. With a star-studded, almost exclusively black cast and themes steeped in cultural identity and personal conflict, the film succeeds in resonating with an audience beyond loyal comic fans and action enthusiasts.

The production of futuristic Wakanda is visually stunning. Special effects and imaginative costumes bring the wondrous African setting to life, which serves as a backdrop to clever dialogue sprinkled with humorous one-liners. A soundtrack featuring a slew of high-profile hip-hop artists and produced by Kendrick Lamar adds an additional layer of artistry to the film’s celebration of black culture.

In a franchise full of intriguing characters played by acclaimed actors, the characters of Black Panther make the film a top-notch addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film’s primary villain, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), has the kind of emotional depth and dynamic that makes him difficult to pin down. His battle with T’Challa is not a moral struggle with clear rights and wrongs; instead, it is thought provoking beyond its well-choreographed fight scenes.

The women of Wakanda are forces to be reckoned with, as well. Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett and Letitia Wright all play women who influence the plot of the film in ways far beyond those typical of female characters in action films. They are not only love interests, princesses and queens; they are spies, patriots, innovators and warriors.

One of the great challenges of superhero blockbusters is to find a way to break the mold of the good-versus-evil trope, but director Ryan Coogler does just that. Coogler, who also earned critical acclaim for his 2015 film Creed, explores conflicts in Black Panther that are anything but trope-like. The film examines what it fundamentally means to be good and to have righteous intentions. Steeped in culture, it shatters Hollywood myths concerning racial representation by appealing to a huge audience captivated by the mystique of Wakanda. 

As the newest addition to the Marvel universe, Black Panther is refreshing and captivating, showing that, after 10 years of filmmaking, Marvel Studios is still at the top of its game. As a new addition to the world of film, it is a celebration of culture and representation enjoyed by a global audience of all identities.

Rate: 4.5/5


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