Every year, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) expands further and deeper. We are currently in the thralls of Phase 3 with the end of that phase, Infinity War (Part 1 and 2), fast approaching. Since Iron Man hit theaters in the early 2000s, we’ve received new characters with unique and interesting back stories, conflicts, and victories each new year. Some of these stories delve heavily into the Infinity Stone arc, which will act as the finale of Phase 3 and toss us into Phase 4 (however it all ends, who can say?).
Black Panther is the most recent of the MCU titles and we are launched into a fascinating world that has not been seen but has been alluded to. In Captain America: Civil War (or Avengers 2.5 as I like to call it), we are introduced to T’Challa who is the son of the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. T’Challa’s father is killed in an explosion and we get our first look at the Black Panther as he pursues and looks to apprehend the man responsible for killing his father. We don’t get much else of a backstory for Black Panther but the introduction does what it needs to: get us excited and interested in the new character.
My wife and I took in Black Panther opening weekend and we both really enjoyed the film. It was not so much an origin story as it was a continuation of what happened in Civil War. We were introduced to a beautiful and vibrant world in the Wakanda setting. Several tribes of distinct peoples allow us to see the inner workings of the history and culture. We see technology that has been widely kept secret in order to keep the countries resources from being spread to the outside world (mainly for military purposes). Finally, we are exposed to a power struggle of self when a new king is forced to make difficult decisions and question whether or not the way of the past is the right way to proceed into the future.
Visually, the movie is stunning. We get both strong and conflicted characters (male and female are equally portrayed, which is always a pleasure). The action is fast and visceral. Humor falls in place when needed and does not feel forced to add levity when it’s not needed. The villains are memorable and just as conflicted as the heroes. My only gripe has to do with the CGI. Sometimes, it does not feel as seamless as you would hope in the final cut of a film of this caliber. Maybe a bit nitpicky but I did notice it a few times)
Overall, I really enjoyed the film and messages it conveyed. The importance of family and fathers was especially poignant. Just like last year’s Coco, I cannot help but be drawn into a story that explores the need for family and remembering where you came from. As we gear up towards Infinity War with stories focused on broader levels, it is always refreshing to see these more condensed stories. We need more of them and I hope they continue to be made and shared.
Call to Action: You know what I’m going to say here! Go see it! Judge for yourself. Don’t be led one way or another on films just because of critics. If you’re initially drawn and interested, take a friend or loved one to the cinema for a few hours.