Like last year’s Wonder Woman, Black Panther is a landmark of cultural representation in superhero movies and, luckily, a darn good movie as well. The run time is fueled by the same cool yet intentionally emotionally frenetic approach to scenes and characters that made director Ryan Coogler’s previous film, Creed, stand out as fresh and unrestrained despite being the seventh movie in its franchise (the Rocky franchise). One of the best films in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), Black Panther overcomes Marvel’s problem of somewhat unmemorable, shallow villains by giving Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, possibly the most depth of any supervillain since the Joker in The Dark Knight. Full of gorgeous, vivid scenery used to depict the fictional country of Wakanda, the film’s combat staging is also impeccable.
The story uses tie-ins to relevant cultural themes of what it would take to solve racism, mass foreign affairs, and international involvement in isolated political events, more than I thought it ever could. Although some of the film feels like a traditional Marvel movie, a lot of it feels executed in an unconventional way, particularly during a heist scene towards the beginning of the story. There is an abundance of strong females characters in the cast that embody a cultural identity probably never seen in mainstream film before, much less superhero movies. The moment that hit me after the movie is that this was the first MCU film where I forgot there was going to be a post-credit scene, because it felt so different from the other movies in the series. Overall, Black Panther is a solidly entertaining, quotable, stylish, and subversive superhero movie that even many people who aren’t fans of the genre will love.