Black Panther – Make Mine Wakanda
– A Hero Corner review by David 2

In the ten years that Almighty Marvel Studios have been doing their own productions, there have been a few really good movies.  Some were okay.  Some were clearly phoned-in.  But there were a few that truly stand out in terms of quality, casting, acting, and story.

This is one of them.

“Black Panther” is a 2018 movie by Marvel Studios and directed by Ryan Coogler.  It stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis.

We start with a history of the fictional country of Wakanda, and how a strange meteor and a metal called Vibranium changed the land.  The meteor creates flowers that gives a person who ingests it superhuman powers.  The first person who did that became the first “Black Panther” and was the ruler of Wakanda.  In the years since, they hide their treasure and their advanced technology from the rest of the world, pretending to be just another impoverished African nation.

In 1992, King T’Chaka visits his brother in California.  It seems his brother has been stealing Vibranium and giving it to a mercenary named Klaue (Sekeris).  T’Chaka is forced to kill his brother, not knowing that he has a son just outside.

Years later, Prince T’Challa (Boseman) returns to Wakanda to claim his rightful place as king following his father’s death in “Captain America: Civil War”.  He is welcomed home by his mother Ramonda (Bassett), his sister Suri (Wright), his bodyguard Okoye (Gurira) and her lover W’Kabi (Kaluuya).  After going through a formal ceremony where he opens up all challenges without his powers and he survives the challenge from M’Baku (Duke), he ingests the sacred flower again with the blessings of Zuri (Whittaker) and becomes the rightful king.

When Klaue, now with new bionic arms following his appearance in “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, joins forces with a young man who seems to know a lot about Wakandan history, the two attack a London museum and steal an artifact.  This gets the attention of King T’Challa as Klaue is a wanted criminal in Wakanda.  T’Challa goes to South Korea to apprehend Klaue, who tries to sell the artifact to disguised CIA agent Everett Ross (Freeman).  The plan goes south quickly, but T’Challa still captures Klaue.  Klaue is then rescued by his new friend, and Ross is badly injured.

T’Challa takes Ross to Wakanda, where he knows their technology will save him.  Meanwhile, Klaue’s new friend takes him to the outlaying area of Wakanda and he is killed.

This young man then drags Klaue’s body to the capitol and says that he is N’Jadaka (Jordan), nephew of T’Chaka, and rightful challenger to the throne.  His claim is supported by W’Kabi, since Klaue killed his father, and N’Jadaka was able to do what T’Challa promised but failed to do.

T’Challa takes up the challenge, removing his powers and fighting N’Jadaka for the right to be king.  However, he is bested as N’Jadaka had prepared for the fight and T’Challa is thrown off the cliff to his seeming death.

N’Jadaka then takes the sacred flower for himself and becomes the new Black Panther.  He then destroys the rest of the flowers so there would be no one else to challenge him.

And… I’ll leave it here.

The movie is incredibly well-played with plenty of imagery to show a secret nation full of culture and pride.  We saw only a fraction of this with “Civil War”, but here we see how they incorporate it into their weapons, their vehicles, and even their buildings.

Having only remote contact with Black Panther’s history in Marvel Comics and through their animated movies and shows, I can’t really say whether or not this film is true to the comics, but I will say that, if it isn’t, then it should be.

The casting is superb all-around.  There is not one character that feels unnecessary or poorly cast.

Yes, the story is somewhat predictable within the frame of an Almighty Marvel movie that really introduces a character, but, in this case, it is a good thing.  We are truly seeing King T’Challa for the first time, and not just as a supporting character in another character’s movie, and it is good.

Of course, as you probably know, we will see both Black Panther and Wakanda in that “big team-up movie” so it’s good that Marvel would lead us into that movie with this one.  It’s just a matter of time whether or not that big movie will live up to the expectation.

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