Yes, it is very good. It’s even better if you happen to like the genre – at least to some degree. Black Panther works as both a standalone action drama sci-fi superhero movie, and as a worthy addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’m a big fan of Marvel Studios’ Avengers franchise (Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, etc.) so I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more of T’Challa/Black Panther in the near and distant future. He’s one cool dude surrounded and protected by a bunch of kickass cool women.
We got our first big-screen taste of Black Panther in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War during which T’Challa’s father T’Chaka, King of the African nation of Wakanda, was killed in an ambush at a United Nations summit. The Black Panther movie picks up shortly after that event. T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman, Marshall, 42, Get On Up) returns to Wakanda as rightful heir to the throne. But it’s not an automatic ascension. Rival leaders are invited to challenge T’Challa for the royal gig by engaging in some major hand-to-hand combat on a cliff. T’Challa fends off one challenge and is just beginning to settle into his reign when a new, bigger and deadlier challenge emerges involving nasty villains Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan, Creed, Fruitvale Station) and Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis, Planet of the Apes). They pose a major threat to the safety and security of Wakanda, which happens to be secretly wealthy and technologically-advanced, thanks to a rare and powerful element called vibranium.
While Boseman’s plotline drives the main narrative, it takes an ensemble to make Black Panther gel as well as it does, under the direction of Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station). The supporting cast includes Lupita Nyong’o (Star Wars: the Last Jedi, Queen of Katwe, 12 Years a Slave) as a Wakandan spy who has captured T’Challa’s heart; Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead) as General Okoye, the fierce and deadpan-funny leader of an all-female special forces squad (as one character quips, some “Grace Jones-looking chicks”); Letitia Wright as tech-savvy princess Shuri, who enjoys ribbing her older brother (as siblings do) but also has his back; Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit movies) as a CIA agent and Black Panther ally; and Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) as T’Challa’s best friend and advisor, W’Kabi.
The film is a bit long at 2 hours, 20 minutes. But it moves at a steady clip and delivers a solid balance of character development, humor, drama and battle scenes — on the streets, in the air and in the mountains. It also delivers what we’ve come to expect from any Marvel movie – a few Easter eggs, including the obligatory cameo by comic book legend Stan Lee, as well as TWO post-credit scenes. One of them is a tag to the main story; the other serves as a tease for the next Avengers movie, Infinity War, hitting theaters in May 2018. Bring it on!
Arty Chick weighs in: I’m not the huge fan of Marvel that Mainstream Chick is, but I loved this movie! They create the world of Wakanda so beautifully, from its unique culture to its Afro-blend look. And the way that modern colonial politics and social conscience are embedded in the story is pure genius. I was also in love with the #GirlPower in this flick. I hope that there will be a lot more Black Panther stand-alone episodes so we continue to see General Okoyo and her band of sisters in action, and so little sis Shuri comes into her own.