One of the most talked about movies of the season is sure to be “Black Panther,” a superhero movie about an Avenger from Africa. Chadwick Boseman reprises his role from “Captain America: Civil War” as T’Challa, the rightful ruler of Wakanda, who also serves as the Black Panther.
That film made my best of the year list in 2016, and “Black Panther” is even better than that. In fact, it takes a different path than a regular superhero movie. It has no buildings on fire or aliens wanting to conquer the world. It serves as an origin story for the hero, and the city he comes from.
Ever since the death of his father (John Kani), T’Challa is preparing for his coronation, in which he visits his father in the afterlife and is placed in a ritual battle for the throne. His city Wakanda is a legend, with a power source with people and technology coming together.
But a superhero wouldn’t be one without villains. Andy Serkis plays an arms dealer who takes the city’s power to give himself a prosthetic arm that serves as a sonic disrupter arm cannon. And the main villain is Michael B. Jordan (obviously in a much better Marvel movie than “Fantastic Four”) as Erik Killmonger, an exiled Wakanda native, wanting to overthrow T’Challa. He has his reasons.
“Black Panther” was co-written and directed by the young filmmaker Ryan Coogler (best known for guiding Jordan in “Fruitvale Station” and “Creed”). Here, he makes sure the movie doesn’t rely on the superhero cliche, and allows us to see the hero in the choices he makes and the city he must protect. Boseman was great in “Civil War,” and he’s still great here.
The amazing cast also includes Martin Freeman as an FBI agent, Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira (“The Walking Dead”) as two of T’Challa’s bodyguards, Angela Bassett as his mother, the Queen, Letitia Wright as his tech-smart sister, Daniel Kaluuya (“Get Out”) as his confidant, Winston Duke as a rival, and Forrest Whitaker as an elder statesman.
The special effects, fights and chases are incredible. They include soles that become sneakers, sonic disrupters, a car chase scene in South Korea when Black Panther chases the arms dealer, and the city of Wakanda, which I would describe as Africa in the future. Don’t see “Black Panther” for just the visuals and star-studded cast. See it for what it is: a superhero movie with no boundaries.
And next month, “Get Out,” the wildly sensation African American thriller, is up for the Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. If this gets nominated next year, it would be a surprise, considering superhero movies only get nominated in the Visual Effects category.
I loved this movie, and I loved the lines “Don’t Freeze” and “I Never Freeze.”