The character of Black Panther made his first appearance in comic books in the July 1966 edition of the “Fantastic Four.” The characters real name is T’Challa, and he is the protector and king of the fictional African nation Wakanda, a secret and technologically advanced society. T’Challa has achieved his great abilities by drinking a heart shaped herb, physical training, science, wealth, and the aforementioned advanced technology, in order to battle his enemies. When Black Panther first appeared in the 1960’s he was the first superhero of African descent to appear in mainstream American comics. One has to wonder why it took so long for the hero to appear on the big screen. With the release of “Captain America: Civil War”, we had to wonder no more, as the film featured the first live-action interpretation of the character via actor Chadwick Boseman, and his debut was impressive.
As far as I’m concerned, despite the presence of the ever popular Spider-Man, Black Panther stole the movie. 2018 has brought Black Panther his own film, and I, for one, am further impressed Boseman and his character. After the events of “Civil War”, T’Challa returns to his country to serve as the country’s new leader only to be challenged for the throne by the villain of the film, his cousin Erik/Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who has a really nasty attitude to go with his awesome haircut. The battle between the two is epic, and results in a surprise plot twist.
The country of Wakanda is so advanced the city appears to be on another planet, and would be at home in any “Star Wars” movie. The battle between Erik and T’Challa involves many, and eventually leads to a skirmish that was very “Lord of the Rings”, save for the flying crafts. Fighting along side T’Challa are several strong and dynamic female characters, all of whom could take down many men in the film. T’Challa is also aided by his 16-year-old sister Shuri (Letita Wright), who designs new technology for the country, and may very well be the smartest person in the Marvel universe. Another character aiding Black Panther is Everett Ross (Martin Freeman “Sherlock”), of the CIA, who has a shaky relationship with the hero that improves during the course of the story. The film features plenty of fights, loads of action, political intrigue, social commentary, making for a truly landmark film.
The film also sets itself apart from other Marvel films with far less humor, which in my opinion is a plus. Leave the comedy to the Guardians of the Galaxy. I was really impressed with how entertaining the film proved to be, and all the actors involved, including Angela Bassett as T’Challa’s mom Ramonda, are perfectly cast. I am a “DC guy” and huge Batman fan, but I will say Black Panther has leaped over Spider-Man as my favorite Marvel character. “Black Panther” is a film to be enjoyed by comic book fans and those who have never picked up a comic book in their life.
Rated PG-13, 4 Panthers (out of 4)