Marvel’s Black Panther has only been out in the United States for only six weeks now and already grossing over $786.3 million on opening night, and over $1.1 billion worldwide. From this data there is no question that Ryan Coogler’s cinematic and narrative masterpiece has more than deserved it’s steller critical acclaim from both critics and fans alike, and that, without question, King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) has more than earned his place as the new face of the MCU.
Very minor spoilers for the film after this point. You have been warned.
The film Black Panther follows directly in the aftermath of the prior film Captain America: Civil War with the death of the Black Panther Prince T’Challa’s father, his subsequent return to his home country Wakanda, and eventual ascension to the throne as king.
From there the film divides T’Challa’s personal growth and development as a well-rounded, self-actualized character into two fairly neat factions. The first conflict is between T’Challa’s personal internal struggle of reconciling his duties and responsibilities as king and guardian of his people with his own moral ideals.
The second point of contingence revolves around T’Challa’s external, cultural struggle as he tries to uphold tradition. He does this while still attempting to bring his incredibly nationalistic and isolationist society around to the idea of placing Wakanda as a main player, the main player, on the world stage.
The plot of this movie, for all its beauty and expert storytelling, is very fast-paced, self-contained, and easily understandable. The movie breaks away from the too often-times needlessly complicated storylines and intricate mystery boxes of its predecessors. Instead, Black Panther tells a very mature, universal tale of family, cultural and personal identity, and understanding and learning how to respect and balance old traditions and values while still making room for new growth and change.
This film follows very closely in the steps of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Thor: Ragnarok in regards to theme and structure. The film also cleverly adds social commentary in a profound, seamless, and emotionally resonate way that all people Black or White, male of female, young or old, American or otherwise, can fundamentally relate too. This film achieves this in such a manner that Thor: Ragnarok was never quite able to manage. In doing so, Black Panther succeeds in leaving behind a lasting impression, more than insuring this film will go down in history as one of the greatest movies ever made.