Magazine article Variety

Black Panther

Magazine article Variety

Black Panther

Article excerpt

Black Panther

Director: Ryan Coogler

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira

Until now, whether they hail from the DC or Marvel cinematic universes, bigscreen superheroes have traditionally been white dudes put on this earth or fashioned by the U.S. military to defend America from its enemies. Co-written and directed by Ryan Coogler, "Black Panther" is a radically different kind of comic-book movie, one with a proud Afrocentric twist, featuring a nearly all-black cast. It's a film that largely ignores the United States and focuses on the fictional nation of Wakanda - and guess what: Virtually everything that distinguishes "Black Panther" from past Marvel pics works to this stand-alone entry's advantage.

Before we get carried away, let's be clear: "Black Panther" is still a superhero movie, which means that it's effectively conceived for 10-year-olds and all those who wish a film like this had existed when they were 10. Except that the latter category is potentially bigger than ever this time around (for a Marvel movie, at least), since there has never in the history of cinema been a film that allows an ensemble of black characters to take charge on a global scale quite like this - and many have waited their entire lives to witness just such a feat. It's similar to the way "Wonder Woman" was a hugely empowering game-changer for women.

That alone would be reason to get excited, and Coogler makes good on the landmark project's potential by featuring some of the best young actors around - from Chadwick Boseman to Michael B. Jordan - as well as such legends as Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett. But historical significance aside, what superhero fans want to know is how "Black Panther" compares with other Marvel movies. Simply put, it not only holds its own, but improves on the formula in several key respects, from a politically engaged villain to an emotionally grounded final showdown.

The film opens in the mythical kingdom of Wakanda, in the world's most technologically advanced city, protected by a ruler with special powers (never fully defined, all-too-easily revoked) and a fearsome costume. Prince T'Challa (Boseman) is the latest Wakandan leader to don the catsuit, a matte-black onesie that receives a nice upgrade courtesy of his tech-savvy sister, Shuri (scene-stealer Letitia Wright). Wakanda owes its utopian status to a precious extraterrestrial resource called Vibranium that the rest of the world covets.

"Black Panther" may not have the most impressive action sequences or visual effects of any Marvel movie, but it boasts the best villains. …

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