The Pioneer

‘Black Panther’ surpasses the hype

Photo courtesy of Marvel

Photo courtesy of Marvel

Ricky Szeto,
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The latest addition to the MCU is the best yet

“Black Panther” has hit theaters, meeting and surpassing high expectations from fans. The newest superhero film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a fantastical joy ride. Fans and critics are raving about it, and it’s not hard to see why. “Black Panther” is one of the highest grossing films in 2018, and currently holds a 97 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film is directed by Ryan Coogler and stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Martin Freeman, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis to name a few.

Coogler also directed the highly praised films “Fruitvale Station” and “Creed,” which also star Michael B. Jordan. Coogler was said to be the perfect director for this film, not only because he is African American, but he is also an Oakland native.

In a film where 95 percent of the characters are black, this was of cultural significance to not only the MCU, but to the world. This is the first time that a superhero film, directed by a Black director, had a primarily Black cast — and it’s breaking barriers in Hollywood. This movie is huge for the people of color, as it shows how anything is possible when these communities work together.

“Black Panther” is set in the fictional nation of Wakanda, located in Africa. Wakanda, unbeknownst to the outside world, is a technologically advanced nation that contains endless amounts of vibranium, the strongest metal in the universe.

Boseman portrays T’Challa, the Black Panther, who is crowned king after the death of his father. T’Challa must learn to balance his duties king, while also being the Black Panther. When dangerous enemies emerge, he is thrown into a major conflict that will determine the fate of not only Wakanda, but the world.

The Black Panther originally made his official debut in the MCU in “Captain America: Civil War” as a supporting character in 2016. Boseman reprised his role as T’Challa for his character’s solo film.

Boseman’s performance in the film was breathtaking. He had very emotional and powerful scenes, which were amplified when he was alongside Jordan’s villainous character, Killmonger.

Jordan’s performance in the film also stands out. Killmonger was one of the better Marvel villains in recent memory. There is actual depth and logic behind his character. You can see what his beliefs are and what motivates him. He wasn’t raised in a technologically advanced utopia, but right here in Oakland.

Killmonger is the catalyst that drives the film. Without Jordan’s charismatic performance, the film would have suffered. Killmonger represents the sins of the past kings of Wakanda, a nation that is totally isolated from the world. They possess vast amounts of next-level technology, yet are unwilling to share it with the outside world.

The only problem I have with Killmonger is that he doesn’t show up too often in the film. He makes his appearance in the beginning and only reappears halfway through the movie. His character was so great that I do miss him when he isn’t on screen.

The biggest surprise of the film was Wright’s performance as Shuri, T’Challa’s little sister. She was absolutely fantastic and brought so much energy and humor to the film.

The visuals in the film also stand out. The color and designs were gorgeous. Black Panther’s suit is even better than his “Civil War” debut outfit. However, there were some instances where the background looked like the CGI was unfinished, such as a scene where T’Challa and Nakia (Nyong’o) were having a conversation near the cliffs.

Marvel has now expanded its universe to other countries. Previously, most of Marvel’s films take place in the United States. Marvel president Kevin Feige and Coogler have done a masterful job in illustrating and bringing Wakanda to life. The casual audience doesn’t need to know what Wakanda is beforehand, nor the origin story of the Black Panther.

When you watch the film, it gives you a crash course in who these characters are, the setting and the backstories. These are all factors that Marvel has emphasized in its other movies but takes a new approach in “Black Panther.” As a long time Marvel fan, I can say that it definitely worked.

Box office numbers are a record breaking $700 million worldwide at the time of writing, and is projected to surpass $1 billion, according to Forbes. Superhero movies have continued to improve as of late. This one is by far the best one yet.

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‘Black Panther’ surpasses the hype