Perhaps Marvel is getting the better of their rivals at DC in the comics-to-big-screen exercise not because they’re better….but because they’re smarter.
A whole LOT smarter.
Ironically, ‘Black Panther’ – the latest (and greatest?) addition to the Marvel cinematic universe – adopts a plan very similar to DC’s lone smash success, last summer’s ‘Wonder Woman’; more heart, less muscle. There are moral and political questions at work in this epic, so obviously this stuff isn’t only about good guy versus bad guy anymore. Anything short on brains in the superhero category is going to get pummeled.
Director Ryan Coogler, 31 years old (31?!) displays remarkable skill in not only juggling the vast array of Marvel’s usual fireworks, but thoughtfully telling a darn fine story. T’Challa, a.k.a. Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) has just been crowned king of Wakanda, an East African nation that houses a mountain full of vibranium, an extremely versatile metal that – if available – could quickly become the flavor of the month for arms dealers. An angry orphan named Erik (Michael B. Jordan) emerges to challenge T’Challa’s throne, with the intent to use the vibranium to punish the oppression of his people. And, well….it’s obviously quite the battle.
As the first black superhero in mainstream American comics, there must’ve been infinite pressure to deliver with ‘Black Panther’ – and Coogler, Boseman and the entire team certainly do not disappoint. This is one of the most impressive principally black casts ever assembled; Lupita Nyongo, Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker are just some of the supporting players, every one of them with game faces intact.
Is ‘Black Panther’ essential viewing as ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ looms? Not really, it’s a decent stand-alone adventure, to be honest. Though, being a Marvel movie, you just might want to stick around after the credits roll…..but you already knew that, didn’t you?