By James Davidson
Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most recent installment, “The Black Panther,” takes us to Wakanda. Where, T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, must not only take over his recently deceased father’s role as king of the fictional African country, but he must also take up the mantle of Black Panther; the protector of Wakanda.
The movie begins by giving us the origin story of Wakanda. Wakanda was created when a meteorite made of vibranium, the most valuable metal in the universe, landed in Africa. The Wakandans used the fictitious metal to make fantastic discoveries in medicine and technology, far beyond anyone else in the world. They also decided to hide their discoveries from the rest of the world, so their discoveries could not be used maliciously by the rest of the world. Wakanda took the appearance of a poor, third world African nation to the rest of the world, while in reality they had flying invisible ships and advanced medicine.
The technological discovery most important to the movie is the Black Panther suit. It is made from bulletproof vibranium and has retractable “panther” claws. Another Wakandan discovery which was pertinent to the mythos of the Black Panther is the “Heart Shaped Herb” which when taken gives the user superhuman speed, strength, and reflexes. The suit in addition to the herb create Black Panther, the protector of Wakanda.
After the murder of his father, T’Challa becomes king of Wakanda and the Black Panther. He then accepts challenges to the throne from the leaders of the other tribes within Wakanda, in the form of ritual combat. He is stripped of his super strength and required to fight to the death or until the one of them concedes the fight. Only M’Baku, the leader of the small rebellious Jabari tribe, challenges him and the is soundly defeated. This is the first of many great action sequences in the film. All of the action sequences in the movie are excellently shot and well choreographed. There are several one-on-one fight scenes, as well as a few larger battle scenes and all of them are exceptionally executed and aided with masterful special effects.
The story continues when T’Challa must decide whether to take Wakanda’s technological discoveries public or to continue to keep them a secret from the rest of the world. His sister Nakia, played by Lupita Nyong’o, suggests they go public with their technology in order to help others. This scene is an excellent example of Boseman’s acting where he is required to balance playing both the wise king and the noble superhero. He plays the role exceptionally well as the audience follows his struggles to fill his father’s shoes, as well as become his own kind of leader.
T’Challa’s claim to the throne is then challenged by Erik Killmonger, T’Challa’s long lost cousin, who was forced into exile when T’Challa’s father killed his brother for stealing vibranium to sell to the outside world. Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, returns to Wakanda and defeats Black Panther in combat to claim the throne he believes to be rightfully his.
Once Killmonger takes over the throne, he uses his newly acquired power to sell vibranium weapons to people sympathetic to his cause to take over the world. With Killmonger controlling the Wakandan military and having the support of most of the Wakandan tribes, the defeated Black Panther must turn to M’Baku and the Jabari tribe to help him regain the throne and stop Killmonger.
Writer and director Ryan Coogler does a great job bringing this comic book favorite to the silver screen. A great cast, fantastic acting, and fantastic action scenes make this movie a must see for any fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It earns 5 out of 5 stars.