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Can ‘Black Panther’ take the crown as the newest Marvel masterpiece?

With the release of Marvel's latest film, the question is if the King of Wakanda lives up to the hype.

Marvel Studios

One of the most anticipated movie events of the year has finally come. Marvel’s “Black Panther” has had a huge cultural impact since it was announced, but can “Black Panther” live up to the hype, or should it hand the crown over to “Infinity War?”

The story takes place a short amount of time after the events of “Captain America: Civil War” where we see Wakandan prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) ready to become king of his nation. Things soon go awry as an old adversary from his family’s past makes an appearance with plans of taking the throne and exploiting Wakanda’s advanced technology around the world.

A good majority of the entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” have had a strong focus on world building. “Black Panther” is arguably the very pinnacle of this new focus.

The ways in which the film explores the world of Wakanda is full of exciting detail. From showing off the advanced technology to the rituals of their people to the way that the tribes coexist, no stone is unturned when it comes to getting a sense of the world these characters inhabit.  Much of the art direction works beautifully as a result. Much of the attention to detail within this film is given to the creative costume and production design.

After shocking audiences with 2013’s “Fruitvale Station” and making one of the decade’s best films thus far, “Creed” director Ryan Coogler has been one of the film’s most celebrated creatives. For the most part, his transition to a big-budget film has worked wonders. Coogler’s exceptional pacing and sweeping cinematography translates well to a Marvel film.

However, the film is not without fault. While Coogler succeeds at directing many of the practical or character-focused sequences, a majority of the effects-heavy action scenes lack much in the way of distinct direction and can even have some downright chaotic editing. On top of that, many of the CGI elements are noticeably poor, particularly with several green screen shots and much of the final battle.

The characters are a mixed bag. T’Challa, while a likable protagonist, lacks a compelling arc or flaws that should be present in a story of a prince taking on the mantle of a king. Similarly, the side characters, while giving top-notch performances and good chemistry, provide little in the way of notably charming characteristics or interesting development.

On the other end of the spectrum is our antagonist, Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who comes the closest to being a compelling character. His motivations and backstory make for a more fascinating character. However, the film attempts to give him a complex morality but it is not effective as his plan is so over-the-top that the audience, while understanding his motivations, have no way of siding with him.

“Black Panther,” while representative of a stirring movement in the mainstream film industry, is very much another solid, but not exceptional, effort from Marvel. While containing some great action, beautiful art direction and what is easily the best world-building in the MCU, the film still suffers from underdeveloped characters and themes that could’ve been better illustrated.

Review overview



8Even with a 135 minute runtime containing some of the best aesthetic choices of any Marvel film, "Black Panther's" underdeveloped elements leave you wishing for more.