Black Panther is a spectacular celebration of cinematic elegance
Black Panther's appeal stems from its ability to thoughtfully explore issues of racism, colonialism, and slavery.
No matter how much the world tries to strip the movie of its political colouration and treat it as just another Marvel superhero fest, it is what it is; and director, Ryan Coogler, does not shy away from making Black Panther the blackest black movie he could make.
While the journey of T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) kicked off with his father's death in Captain America: Civil War, viewers don't get a real feel of the fantastical world of Wakanda until the magnetic magic of Black Panther.
There's a particular point you reach, while watching the movie, where you start to convince yourself that, perhaps, it's the best superhero movie you've ever seen for reasons that are truly well-founded.
Picking up from where T'Challa left off in Civil War, the movie opens in a surprising location in Nigeria where the grey line of terrorism is breezily dealt with.
But just before this, the viewer is introduced, in an orgy of brilliantly grounded visuals, to the origin of Wakanda as a war-ravaged society that grows into the world's best-kept secret with the technological advantage of vibranium that's best described as convenient as it serves just about any purpose the script demands.
The movie's opening story dump also touches down in 1992 where T'Challa's father has to deal with the betrayal of a kin which completely sets off the events that eventually transpire over the course of Black Panther.
Black Panther has a lot of moving parts; but unlike a majority of its peers, every single part drips with purpose.
Coogler makes bold, radical choices that set viewers on a path towards frenetic adoration as the story unfolds.
The delightfully adaptive Andy Serkis plays Ulysses Klaue, a South African black-market arms dealer and gangster who attracts T'Challa's attention due to his history of robbing the fictional African country in the past.
It is in his quest to apprehend the cartoonish Klaue that Wakanda's conflicted monarch encounters the sin of his father that puts his own future in jeopardy.
Erik "Killmonger" Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) blows into T'Challa's life like a whirlwind and topples his whole world and reality as he knows it.
The minute Killmonger sets his sight on the throne, the powder kegworld of Wakanda explodes into complete chaos.
All of this does not happen in a vacuum.
Black Panther's appeal stems from its ability to thoughtfully explore issues of racism, colonialism, and slavery in a way that gives the story personality.
This paves the way for one of Marvel's most memorable villains as Jordan's Killmonger is a politically-engaging adversary whose megalomaniacal ambitions can be considerably excused by his experience of the world.
Killmonger's story arc elevates him above the stereotypical supervillain who huffs and puffs until the protagonist figures a way to defeat them. He's a character driven by a complex emotional baggage that makes him a not-such-a-terrible guy to root for.
Whether it's for the rad Basquiat hair, or the chilling body ornamentation, or the explosive personality, Jordan delivers an intimate villain that resonates well with complex ideas about how the world works.
Perhaps, Black Panther's greatest strength is its ability to strike a great balance between actual story-telling intelligence and the humour-tinged edge that has characterised Marvel projects.
While the movie creates an outlet for Marvel's signature comic slant, the grimness of the movie's overarching themes is not jeopardised.
This great balance is possible due to the movie's talented nearly all-black group of actors who lend the movie an overwhelming sense of otherworldliness with its exploration of the mythical.
Lupita Nyong'o as an undercover spy and T'Challa's love interest, Nakia; Danai Gurira who greatly impresses as the head of the Dora Milaje, Okoye; and Angela Bassett who stars as T'Challa's mother and advisor, Ramonda, all deliver electrifying performances that are worthy of mention.
Daniel Kaluuya, as Tchalla's conflicted best friend, W'Kabi; Martin Freeman as CIA officer, Everett K. Ross; Winston Duke as a ruthless warrior, M'Baku; and Forest Whitaker as shaman figure, Zuri, never fail to disappoint when called upon to display their artistic chops.
Black Panther's most excitable character has to be Tchalla's scene-stealing sister Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, who delivers most of the movie's best comic lines up for grabs. She is the innovative mind behind some of Wakanda's most exhilarating application of the vibranium, and is important to T'Challa's battle for power in the movie.
As a backdrop to the incredible balance that the movie achieves, the fantastic world of Wakanda itself is a balance of sorts.
The world of Wakanda is a finely tuned blend between urban and rural as well as futuristic and traditional. There is no extreme that is not fairly balanced out with another extreme that forces a conversation on how best to actually address contemporary issues.
While there are parties that advocate for either extreme, the movie never appears to take sides, but instead, burdens the viewers with juggling the realities of the two sides.
Black Panther's vibrant use of resplendent visuals is just the icing on a very well made cake as viewers are treated to alluring waterfalls, heart-stopping ritual combats, colourful tribal attires, and technological gizmos that are hard to even understand.
The movie's music score is a playlist to die for as it serves as a loud backdrop to the events that unfold on the screen at different moments.
Saving the best for last, the action sequences in Black Panther deliver truly rousing moments that are simply too gorgeous to describe in any way that does them any proper justice.
The cream of the crop is a car chase scene in the neon-coloured streets of South Korea that involves quite a few crazy moves that are best seen than described.
While Black Panther has been heavily depicted as the personification of the black community's yearning for representation in Hollywood, the movie is more than just that.
It's also a superhero movie with the temperament to explore sensitive issues in a manner that still manages to offer a dose of high-powered excitement.
When the credits finally roll over the end of Black Panther and its two credits scenes, the most prominent question that pops up in the mind is, "How did it take this long to get here and when can we get more?"
JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!
Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: