I've been anticipating this movie since Prince T'Challa made his appearance in Captain America: Civil War. And the next person who says this is the first black superhero movie will get slapped. Wesley Snipes showed way back in 1998's Blade that a black/Marvel/superhero (take your pick of labels) movie could make money if it was done right.
And frankly, Black Panther was done so fucking right!
Since we already saw T'Challa's origin story back in Civil War, no screen time was wasted for that bullshit. Co-writer/Director Ryan Coogler and Co-writer Joe Robert Cole jump right into the action, setting Black Panther against his archnemesis Killmonger.
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1) Coogler and Cole integrated the original story with Shakespearean overtones, specifically Hamlet. In this version, T'Challa and N'Jadaka/Killmonger are cousins, so as members of the royal bloodline, they both can consume the heart-shaped herb.
2) Coogler didn't water down the Dora Milaje or turn them into a fucking harem. They were the elite Wakandan special forces they were supposed to be.
3) Have I said how much I love Danai Gurira? She outdoes herself in her performance of General Okoye.
4) The incredible comparisons of revenge/redemption. The fathers of T'Challa, Killmonger, and W'Kabi are murdered, and the plot develops out of how each man deals with their grief and anger.
5) The equally incredible comparisons of loyalty to their kings and to their own beliefs. Nakia, Okoye, and Zuri each face that question during the course of the story, and each are faced with a price for their decisions.
6) Special kudos have to go to Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger. This is the first Marvel antagonist who wasn't a one-dimensional cardboard villain. If you don't have any sympathy for him in the end as he and T'Challa watch the sunset together, you are dead inside.
1) The only issue is we don't have a release date for Black Panther 2.
Coogler gave this tightly plotted story some unexpected, and much welcome, depth. Overall, I give Black Panther 10 stars out of 10.
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