Black Panther

Black Panther ★★★★

I never thought the day would come when something Marvel could come close to topping THE WINTER SOLDIER, but here we are, folks. Sure, not everything is perfect, but there is so much to enjoy. Ryan Coogler was the absolute perfect choice to direct this - the studio finally had the balls to let a director other than James Gunn have a vision, and it pays off tenfold. This is a rich celebration of culture, diversity, great storytelling. It has its own identity, and that's truly special for a film in this universe. As innovative as last year's WONDER WOMAN was for its own reasons, this will join the ranks of film iconography. Chadwick Boseman returns - with flying colors might I add - as Marvel's (arguably) most badass superhero. Joining him here are Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong'o, Angela Bassett, Sterling K. Brown, Daniel Kaluuya, and scene-stealer Letitia Wright. On the villainous side of things, Michael B. Jordan is an absolute knock-out as Erik Killmonger, playing to Boseman's T'Challa effortlessly. I appreciated that the main white characters (Andy Serkis's Klaue and Martin Freeman's Ross) were minor at best, and legitimately served a purpose when they were needed. But let's be real - this is too important of a film to focus on a minor race that appears. The African culture in this is boundless, from the costume design, to the architecture, to the scenery, to the music (which blended seamlessly into the film's own hip-hop-inspired soundtrack). Completely respectful and eye-opening to many audiences. The action scenes in this were very cool to watch, given how Vibranium gave the filmmakers the freedom to do whatever they wished with Black Panther's suit, the weapons, and the hovercrafts. Hopefully, this sends a message to Marvel that audiences prefer when they are different, creative, and celebrate global culture - and not just more of the same. It's going to be hard for the other two films to beat this this year - this is my new standard for Marvel.

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