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Black Panther

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You know how you’ll have people complain that they can’t get into a movie like Black Panther (2018) because it has an all-black cast, takes place in Africa, and Iron Man never sets foot on set, but can totally relate to a proportional dwarf with hairy feet  who lives in a mound in an imaginary land and travels across fantasy worlds with fairies and dragons for a piece of jewelry? You’re gonna want to ignore those people.

Following the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016), T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) has settled into the role of King with the simple and unfettered grace that comes from a blind eye and deliberate ignorance. These are character traits of most benevolent kings, so at first, it seems comfortable and expected – but complacency never got anyone anywhere but dead. He wants to rectify his father’s only regret – not having brought Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) to justice for stealing Vibraniem, the mineral that makes Wakanda so unique and special.

There are several themes running throughout this movie – the meaning of family, the power of respect, the responsibility of those who have to help those who have not, filling the shoes of someone before you’ve had a chance to feel comfortable in your own.

But you’re not here for the touchy-feely nonsense (and you should be). You’re looking for superhero action, and you’ll absolutely get it – just without the clutter of 10 other superheros and their baggage.

This is a rich origin story so beautifully fleshed out it feels like a breathing African folk tale. The opening sequence is magical, Wakanda decloaking is breathtaking, and the majesty of Traditions and customs are handed down from father to son, mother to daughter, king to tribe. Lessons are only as well-received as the information they convey. T’Challa is mostly ready to be the Black Panther, but he is missing critical information, a crucial piece that threatens to destroy Wakanda from the inside.

Running through Black Panther is the undercurrent of Passive Power vs Violent Aggression. Peaceful Wakanda is a peaceful, if isolated utopia, purposefully segregated from the rest of war-torn, plundered Africa, part preservation from Colonization, part preservation the everyday skirmishes and violence that Colonization has left behind. Should Wakanda remain a quiet respite, left to thrive with its own technology, or should they conquer the surrounding world with that same unstoppable power? You see both sides and that’s amazing for a simple comic book movie.

You will not see the crazy, endless sequences from previous movies and that’s what marks Black Panther as more than the preceding movies in the MCU. It’s a self-contained marvel of backstory and future promise, all wrapped around an imperfect king, his spunky sister, and the love of his life.

So let me tell you what struck me about this film – the women, and not in the scantily clad, helpless and fawning way most people see women on screen. From Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) who protected the innocent and the maligned by kicking ass, to Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright) who was smart, beautiful, funny, and took zero crap from anyone to time General Okoye (Danai Gurira) who held every scene with a look and a spear. And of course, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) who held it all together with grace and a lot of anger.

I love the Dora Milaje – all strong, beautiful powerful, capable women in the Panther Tribe. They are fierce, loyal to the throne, and every time General Okoye (Danai Gurira) was on screen, I knew someone was getting hurt. The Five Tribes of Wakenda were distinct and beautiful and the ceremony of all of it rivaled any Hollywood Medival coronation.

Did I forget the bad guys? Perhaps, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) holds a secret and a grudge and he’s mad at everything. He’s the militant cousin we see a few times a year at BBQs and Thanksgiving at Auntie’s and you know he’s bringing the chip of Oppression to every conversation. He’s got mad plans and the skills to back it up, and he can’t possibly see the consequences of his actions.

Hero and Villan, both shortsighted by their own revenge makes for a very satisfying 160 minutes

I love this movie and it will probably be the first movie of 2018 I pay to see more than once. It’s a strong recommendation from me and likely anyone who sees it before you do.

Black Panther (2017) is Rated PG-13 for the Dora Milaje kicking some major butt, super slick people dressed very well duking it out, people getting shot, hand to hand combat, cannons fired from wrists and a war rhino!

Black Panther is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.

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