The future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in great hands! With the arrival of Infinity War in May comes the end of the original MCU that we have grown to love. It has been widely speculated that we will no longer get new Iron Man, Captain America or even Thor movies. Instead, the future of this series lies in the hands of Ant-Man, Doctor Strange and Spider-Man. Each of these movies have proven their hero can carry their own franchise successfully. However, the crown jewel of Marvel’s future has just been presented in the form of Black Panther.
Directed by Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed), Black Panther picks up a week after the events of Captain America: Civil War, where we were first introduced to T’Challa. T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is the new king of Wakanda, a country so far advanced in technology from the rest of the world, after the death of his father. One of the more refreshing elements of this film is the fact that, even though this is technically an origin story, it never feels like one. This could be because we are already familiar with the character and witnessed his step forward to the Black Panther persona in Civil War. Or it could be because there is so much history behind the country and characters that it never comes as being forced down your throat but rather sprinkled throughout. This film has a very James Bond feel to it, with the inclusion of special missions and gadgets. In fact, the gadgets and technology used in this film would make Q feel ashamed of himself.
Wakanda is home to the powerful metal Vibranium, the same metal Captain America’s shield is made from. Wakanda uses this metal to create technology that seems leagues ahead of the rest of the world. However, in order to protect the people of Wakanda and the Vibranium, Wakanda poses as a third world country. The vision Coogler has developed for this country is stunning and uses every ounce of imagination to create a whole different world with this Vibranium. The fictional country is a character of its own.
Chadwick Boseman does an outstanding job carrying this movie. T’Challa is portrayed as a respectful leader with great love for his people. This is a different side we saw in Civil War, which saw the King seeking vengeance for his father’s death. The supporting cast is arguably one of the best in the MCU. Each character could easily have their own movie. The stand-out performance goes to Danai Gurira as Okoye, the leader of the Dora Milaje (the all female bodyguards to T’Challa). She carries every scene she is in. Other characters include Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya), and Shuri (Letitia Wright), T’Challa’s genius 16 year old sister. Michael B. Jordan is introduced as Killmonger, the villain of the film.
Even though this does take place in the MCU, unlike more recent installments, this feels like a stand-alone simply because it does not include much of anyone from previous installments. The only two characters that reappear are two characters that could have easily been forgotten; Everett Ross (Martin Freeman), the CIA agent from Civil War returns in a much bigger role, as does Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), who we last saw getting his arm cutoff by Ultron. Other than these two characters, there isn’t much to connect this movie to the others, and that is refreshing.
Overall, this movie leapfrogs ahead to the top of the Marvel films. It might not be the overall best, but it stands toe-to-toe with the juggernauts we have grown to love. The future of Black Panther is bright and exciting, and we should expect a dominant presence of both, the Wakandan King and the country itself in Infinity War and in future films.