Summary: T’Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.
Cast and Characters. There are a lot of characters in this movie and I might just touch on all of them because I can!
Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa / Black Panther. Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa is mourning his father’s death, while preparing to ascend to the throne. He becomes king of Wakanda, who also has enhanced strength by ingesting the Heart-Shaped Herb. T’Challa is definitely more comfortable now that he’s back home. He is aware of the responsibility that comes with being King and he’s worried about how he’ll handle it. He wants to be a great leader like his father. T’Challa is determined to uphold the values of Wakanda. He learns things as the film goes on which molds him into a great man and a great king. I think Boseman is a fantastic choice for T’Challa. His accent is believable, I’m not the leading expert on African accents but I believe his. He carries himself like a King, but also a young man trying to be great, fair and someone who his people can trust.
Michael B. Jordan as Erik “Killmonger” Stevens. I think it’s important to note that there might be spoilers but I think the trailer kind of makes it easy to tell some things about him. But Erik is angry and seeks to overthrow T’Challa. He has his own opinion on how Wakanda has been run and should be run. He’s very strategic, patient, well-skilled and trained to the point where he’s playing the long game. Erik is the type of villain who doesn’t really see himself as the villain, I don’t think, because he thinks what he’s doing is right but he’s also thoughtful. His plans aren’t outlandish to be honest. I like the updated look from his comic book counterpart, his hairstyle is modern compared to his long ones in the comics. Michael B. Jordan was great as the villain, this is the first time he’s played a character like this, at least whose a villain because you can argue that Adonis Creed was also very angry but this role is very different from that. He really steals pretty much every scene he’s in, I mean, he’s my husband so I know he’s a great actor, but I was very thrilled to watch him be like this. He’s so great.
Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia. She is T’Challa’s ex-girlfriend, she’s a War Dog and an undercover Wakandan spy. She is from the River Tribe and she’s a strong character. Nakia seems very different from her comic book counterpart, I can’t help but wonder if they’ll go in that direction, I hope not at least not without proper cause. But anyway, she starts the film out fighting for enslaved women in Nigeria which already gives her a noble personality. She is stubborn, thoughtful, strong and she KICKS BUTT! Lupita Nyongo’o is great and I’m glad she’d played a role like this as she hasn’t been in much and I think she’s a fantastic actress. The emotions she can portray shows she has extreme range, not to mention, she really has great chemistry with Chadwick Boseman. I believed that she could go toe-to-toe with him if need be.
Danai Gurira as Okoye. She is from the Border Tribe who is the head of Dora Milaje, the all-women special forces who serve as T’Challa’s bodyguards. She loves her country and is a traditionalist in that she is determined to serve her throne. Okoye is stoic, but she does have a sense of humor that when it comes out, it’s really funny. She has a big heart and she cares so much for her people that she’s willing to do whatever it takes to protect that. I’ve never seen Danai Gurira in anything, I know she’s Michonne, but this is the first time I’ve seen her in anything and she’s badass. First of all, she wears that uniform like it’s nothing, and her facial expressions, especially during the interrogation scene, fantastic. She’s great and I wish we got to see a bit more scenes between her and W’Kabi.
Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross. He is a member of the CIA and we met him in Civil War. Ross respects T’Challa but maybe doesn’t fully trust him as he doesn’t want him to get involved. He ends up going to Wakanda where he learns a lot and does some pretty cool things. I like the fact that he’s not just some CIA dude who is rude all of the time, nor is he just comic relief. He’s able bodied here and I think Martin Freeman is great in this role. He’s likable, funny when he needs to be and I think he fit into the world, strangely enough.
Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi. He is T’Challa’s confidant and best friend. He is head of security for the Border Tribe, who serves as first line of defense for Wakanda. They breed rhinos or something. He’s a sweet guy who has his own painful past, which they incorporate well into the film. I can’t say much without spoiling it. But I like Daniel Kaluuya, he has this likability about him that I can’t help but like him regardless.
Letitia Wright as Shuri. She’s T’Challa’s younger sister and princess of Wakanda. I’m not sure how old she is exactly, but M’baku calls her a child so I’m assuming she’s a teenager. She designs new technology for the country, she’s innovative and she wants to forge a new path for Wakanda as she’s in charge of the technological changes. She’s super smart and considering all that she’s done for the country, I wonder where in the Marvel Universe (the comics and what not) she stands in terms of being smart. Letitia Wright was great! She has a great personality as Shuri, she’s likable, smart, and funny and I’m interested to see if she ever puts on the Black Panther costume because she does in the comics. She’s definitely a young spirit compared to everyone else, but she is wise and I love her.
Winston Duke as M’Baku. He is the powerful, ruthless warrior who is the leader of the mountain tribe, the Jabari. They protest T’Challa being the new king. Their animal is an ape as he is called “Man-Ape” in the comics but I believe they just worship the gorilla gods. M’Baku believes in the past and that it’s important to know it in order to move forward. Winston Duke is a giant of a man, so him standing up against anyone in this film is quite entertaining because he’s so TALL. But he’s also funny when he needs to be, but at other times very much intimidating. I like him though lol.
Angela Bassett as Ramonda. She is T’Challa’s stepmother, and the Queen Mother of Wakanda. She is probably T’Challa’s most trusted advisors and probably the only one he really listens to. She is wise and has a lot of insights even if she’s not always right. She is supportive of her children, holds a definite amount of respect from everyone. Angela Bassett is always a win and Angela Bassett in a long silver wig with locs is ALWAYS a win.
Forest Whitaker as Zuri. He is the keeper of the heart-shaped herb. He is a religious and spiritual figure. He is the one who is in charge of the ritual where T’Challa becomes King. There’s a lot of information we learn about him and Forest Whitaker is always good, and he plays this role very well.
Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue. He is a South African black-market arms dealer, smuggler and gangster who is allied with Erik. He has an arm cannon that is an advanced piece of Wakandan mining equipment, it’s a sonic disruptor arm-cannon. He is a threat to Wakanda as he’s an outsider who managed to steel some Vibranium and has access to it. He also has a personal vendetta against T’Challa and Wakanda as he feels their solitude from the rest of the world is hypocrisy. Andy Serkis is always, always a win and I’m glad that he got to play someone in person because he’s great at it. His South African accent was great and he’s intimidating but also humorous. I love it. He was great.
The Villain. Erik Kilmonger is a great villain. He is a staple of Black Panther’s lore and rogue’s gallery, but in this film, they really give him a backstory and allow him to feel like a product of his circumstances. I think lately Marvel has some good villains and I think Erik fits right up there as their best. He’s young but he’s angry and his reasons don’t feel like “oh yeah he’s just mad” but that he has reasons and you can sympathize with him. Like you root for him too and that’s what makes him a great villain and what makes the movie so great is because you sympathize with both him AND T’Challa. He has some great emotional scenes and you can’t help but fall even deeper into the hole of understanding him. HE IS THE BEST MARVEL STUDIOS VILLAIN.
The Story. This is a story about growth, revenge, courage to do what’s right even if it’s hard, redemption and family. There’s a lot happening in the movie but at it’s core, it focuses on family and how T’Challa, Ramonda and Shuri now have to live without T’Chaka. Not to mention the secrets that are in the family that we learn, it’s quite powerful to be honest. There’s also politics but not only are they not ridiculously complicated but it says a lot about ruling a kingdom. The story I think is easy to follow, it’s emotional, it’s a strong story and that’s all I can say without spoiling. A lot of moments are so profound.
Costume Design. T’Challa’s first suit is the same one from Civil War, which is amazing and sleek in it’s design. His second suit that Shuri builds for him, is one that forms around his body was inspired by a similar design seen in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther comic book run. The purple you see in the design is kinetic energy which is cool. All of T’Challa’s outfits are ALSO amazing. That black hoodie he wears during Klaw’s interrogation scene is amazing and I want it. I want ALL of his coats. ALL OF THEM. Shuri’s clothes are amazing. Ramonda’s clothes, especially her headdress, and then that blue dress she wears, oh my gosh. Amazing. Also those white locs were fantastic on her and I’m still salty Angela Bassett was nervous back in the day of comic book movies that she turned down Storm. Nakia’s clothes… wow. The Dora Milaje’s uniforms are beautifully realized and the attention to detail in the clothes, wow. Erik Kilmonger’s clothes were also great, especially that black cloak thing he wears towards the end. Also, the detail with his bumpy ritualistic scares is really cool. Shout out to Ruth E. Carter who did a great job!
The Dialogue/Humor. It’s funny. It’s not like super funny or are you laughing the entire time, but there are definitely some visual cues that are hilarious and require laughter. Don’t expect Guardians of the Galaxy humor or anything, but there is humor. The dialogue can be funny and the way it’s delivered is great! Shuri’s great line in her lab referencing T’Challa shoes. Erik going “hey auntie…”, the scene where T’Challa sees Nakia, it’s some great stuff. I mentioned before in the story section that there is a lot of profound moments in this film and it’s true. The dialogue is so powerful, I think all of Erik’s lines are pretty profound. Don’t get me twisted, his execution was wrong but I can’t help but to understand him and in ways, root for him. But T’Challa also had some great lines, especially when he spoke to his ancestors and his entire scene with Erik at the end. Wow. Kudos to Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole for writing such a powerful script.
Visuals! Rachel Morrison is the cinematographer and she does a great job because the film looks great. Wakanda is a beautiful country, very vibrant full of colors and I think the scene where T’Challa steps into the pool of water and the people are standing on the rock wall formation, it’s amazing just how beautiful that scene was. The way some of the action scenes are filmed, especially in South Korea, that’s very cool. Not to mention, the use of technology in Wakanda, the little forms of communication they have, it’s a different way than how we’ve seen “holograms”. Or how Shuri can help T’Challa from her lab by being in a simulation. It’s super cool.
Awesome Soundtrack! I listened to the soundtrack a bit previously and I thought it was awesome but with it in the film, it fit so well into the film. Shout out to Kendrick Lamar for the original songs. Ludwig Göransson who also composed Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station, he does the score and it’s beautiful. During Erik’s ancestral visit, beautiful and the score at the end with T’Challa and Erik was also beautiful. The music fits in the movie very well, it doesn’t feel out-of-place and I love the songs, but I also love the instrumentals where there are some quiet moments, like when T’Challa goes into the spirit world where all of the Panther ancestors were.
The Fight Scenes. Outside of one scene, I think all of the fight scenes are really cool, well filmed and well choreographed. The scene at the beginning where T’Challa drops from the sky, that whole scene was awesome because we got to see him in his element right from the beginning. Also, all of the scenes where he fights Erik, I think are all handled well. Their first fight in the water, it’s savage, raw and powerful. I think it’s clear that Erik is stronger and a better fighter considering… and it shows because it was pretty brutal. T’Challa’s fight with M’Baku was also a good one. The entire third act was also great. The scenes with T’Challa and Erik fighting respectively in their suits, was super cool and just the effects along with that, and how emotional and brutal it was. I think it was fantastic.
Emotional Weight. This movie has a lot of emotional weight going into it. It starts off with the death of a parent, husband and a monarch which is already tough on this world and the people in them. Not to mention, there are things we learn about the family as the movie continues that just makes you really consider how hard it can be to rule and be a good person AND a good ruler. I think Chadwick Boseman really sells the emotion in this film, especially the scene towards the end as does Michael B. Jordan. It’s amazing. You really feel for the characters and I think everyone has motivation for what they’re doing. You can’t help but to understand them.
Awkward Fighting Scene. So, I wanted to make a comment about it, it was pointed out to me that some of the fighting scenes were a bit awkward. I did think this, but only about the casino scene in some areas. I don’t think throughout the movie this was a problem. But specifically in the casino scene, I do think there is weird choreography in there. There is also a mixture of shaky cam where you’re not sure what’s going on, mostly on scenes where there are some closeups. I also think there are some points, mostly when Okoye is fighting with her spear, where it looks like slow motion which does make it look odd but it’s not slow motion. It’s just real-time, I mean, these actors are human and can’t move super fast but it does make it not flow as seamlessly as it should. But it didn’t really bother me, I just wanted to bring it up in case someone else noticed and commented.
Overall, I LOVE this movie. I like, I can’t even begin to continue to sing its praises. It’s fantastic. It’s beautiful, everything in it is beautiful. The people, I mean, these actors are all beautiful people, the clothes, the music, the visuals, the story… everything is beautiful. The characters are all strong and different people to the point where you know who the are, what their purposes are in the film, and the cast is extremely talented and I can’t even. Chadwick Boseman heads up this film as T’Challa and he is great at his job. My husband Michael B. Jordan is a great villain, he’s sympathetic and he is understood even if he goes about things the wrong way. He is great. GREAT. Everyone is great. The soundtrack is amazing, especially the score, and the costumes are beautifully made. The emotions in this movie are strong and completely understandable, everything is felt because it feels so raw and organic. The fight scenes are handled really well. The movie is funny and the dialogue is profound! The only thing I can pull out is that one awkward fight scene in the casino but that didn’t really bother me. FOR THE CULTURE! WAKANDA FOREVER!
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Have you seen Black Panther? If not, what’s wrong with you?? lol I’m kidding but go see it! Let me know your thoughts down in the comment section because I would love to have a dialogue with someone about it, especially if you don’t think Erik is sympathetic.
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