By: Brad Ozuk
The new movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in “Black Panther” launched the weekend of Jan. 17, and I was able to go catch a Saturday screening with my family. Directed by Ryan Coogler, the movie stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, the prince of Wakanda who receives the throne by succession and is named the Black Panther. While to the outside world, the nation of Wakanda seems like your typical impoverished African nation, the use of a metal called Vibranium is used to act as a cloaking device so the world knows nothing about the metal nor the technological advances of the people living there.
However, when people conspire against his leadership, he must work with CIA agent Everett K. Ross, played by Martin Freeman and his sister Nakia, played by Lupita Nyong’o, to prevent Wakanda from being dragged into a World War.
I don’t think there’s a way I’d like to describe the movie other than saying it was different. Just watching it makes it known that it’s nothing like the previous movies of the MCU. It’s nothing like the “Iron Man”, “Captain America” or “Thor” franchises, but rather it’s its own separate entity leading up to “Infinity War” which should premiere this year. If I had to bring myself to describe the differences, the plot and tech devices used in the movie were vastly different than they were in the previous Marvel movies. By this I mean that during the others you had fight scenes in the city where buildings were torn up and skyscrapers crumbling to the ground with heroes being thrown through busy streets. In Wakanda the fights were amongst grass and waterfalls and it made the actual choreography of the fights stand out from the background, which was probably one of the highlights of the film.
One of my personal favorite parts of the movie remains in the villains. Michael B. Jordan’s Erik “Killmonger” Stevens and Andy Serkis’ Ulysses Klaue were far and away some of the better villains in the MCU. Jordan was convicted and determined and he knew exactly what he wanted and how to get it. The way he so vastly differed from Boseman while being so similar in character was truly impeccable. On the other hand, Serkis played a morally questionable character and he did so brilliantly. He was funny in all the right places that made it seem like he really was a bad person. These two were easily some of the most unique villains I’ve seen in any setting in a long time.
Another point of success I found in the movie was the soundtrack. I personally had the original “Avengers” soundtrack as a hard copy and loved every minute, but I could see how far the musical style had come from then. Rapper Kendrick Lamar was put in charge of the soundtrack development and he did a stunning job. There were serene, tribal-esque music mixed in with smooth and solid hip hop beats that made the stories and the fight scenes pack some energy that helped fuel the movie.
I’m not going to argue that the movie is perfect, and while I’ve seen what other people have to say in regards to complaints I didn’t have any myself. Truth is that I’m a casual moviegoer and I had no experience with the comics so my opinion could differ from anybody’s. I would however recommend everybody to watch it once because it was a great movie and it really shone compared to some of its counterparts. It was funny when it warranted humor but the plot was strong and the casting was brilliant. I would encourage anybody going in to not take into account the expectations that mass media tries to put on it because that could very well just ruin the experience.