By Bradley Griffith
Do you want to see a good action movie? “Black Panther” fits the bill. Do you want to see a superhero movie with many superheroes, supervillains, and superhero action? In that case, don’t watch “Black Panther.” It’s a good action movie, but it’s not like any other superhero movie from Marvel Studios.
T’Challa (Chadwick Bozeman) is the prince of the African nation of Wakanda. From the outside, Wakanda appears to be another struggling third-world country on the Dark Continent. There doesn’t appear to be anything special about Wakanda other than the fact that it is perfectly inconspicuous. That is exactly how the Wakandans want their country to appear.
Wakanda is actually the most advanced country on Earth. Centuries ago a large meteorite made of a rare metal known as vibranium landed in Wakanda. Vibranium is a technological marvel. Using this metal Wakandans built the most advanced city on the planet, complete with airplanes that look and act like something out of a Star Trek movie. But Wakanda does not want the rest of the world to know their secret, they don’t want the rest of the world to converge on them and change their country.
With his father’s death, T’Challa is to become the king of Wakanda. He is also the Black Panther. Ingesting an elixir made with a special herb grown with vibranium, T’Challa has super-human strength, speed, and agility. The Black Panther acts as the protector of Wakanda and its vibranium.
T’Challa learns of a black-market sale of vibranium that is set to take place in South Korea. As he attempts to thwart the sale and recover the vibranium, T’Challa comes face-to-face with the villain known as Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). And Killmonger is coming for T’Challa’s vibranium, and his throne.
“Black Panther” is a good action movie. There are many battle scenes, high speed car chases with the car driven by remote control, and even dogfights in the skies. The action scenes are well choreographed and executed flawlessly. The production of the movie is first-rate, even if a bit too much computer-generated graphics are used at times.
But, even though it’s a Marvel Studios film based on Marvel comics, it’s not what we have come to expect in a superhero movie. There are no superheroes other than Black Panther. There are no flying good guys, gods of thunder, or even any supervillains with superpowers. These elements of prior Marvel movies are generally required in a superhero movie.
Chadwick Bozeman was a great pick for T’Challa/Black Panther. He brought the necessary honor and integrity that the role demanded. It seems that in most movies, TV shows, and books the person who becomes king is not worthy of the title or throne. That’s not true in “Black Panther.” T’Challa is a great king, one who can rule his people wisely and with compassion.
On the opposite side of the coin, while Killmonger may not be a “super” villain, Michael B. Jordan does a great job of making you detest Killmonger. Unlike some villains who are conflicted, Killmonger has no redeeming qualities. He is evil and cares only for himself. He’s so bad that he doesn’t even have a posse of other bad guys to enact his plan. No one stays alive around him for long.
An aspect of the movie that I was unaware of going into the theater but was a nice surprise was the warrior women who fought alongside T’Challa, and even protected him. His royal guards were all women who could fight as good as, or better than, him. Danai Gurira of “The Walking Dead” was particularly memorable as the head general of Wakanda.
I have come to expect greatness in virtually everything from Marvel Studios. “Black Panther” is a good action movie, but it’s not great. But I will say that my expectations clearly hampered my enjoyment of the movie.
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Rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action violence and a brief rude gesture.