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Film Rec: Black Panther

A decade into the age of superhero films, and they’re still going strong. Not just with box office returns either. Marvel Studios, in particular, has been able to keep their franchise fresh and desirable while other studios have stumbled. Their latest installment, Black Panther, is yet another triumph for the box office juggernaut. It succeeds on almost every level, and is a standout among a solid roster of MCU films.

Character complexity was at 100% in this film. Okoye was a particular favorite of mine. Danai Gurira, an undeniably fabulous actress, did an amazing job of helping audiences connect with a point of view that, in less deft hands, might have translated poorly on screen. Audiences were able to empathize with Okoye’s struggle instead of being frustrated for reasons that I won’t go into, because I’m trying super hard to keep this as spoiler-free as possible. I also fell a little bit in love with the sibling bond between Shuri and T’Challa. It reminded me of the shenanigans my own brother and I have gotten into (except, y’know, I’m not a girl genius and he’s certainly no king). The entire cast deserves a round (or twenty) of applause. Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Forest Whitaker, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Basset- all of them gave this film and their characters an energy that I think audiences connect with. I certainly did.

Backtracking a little bit to Okoye’s arc, it brings up another thing I really, really liked about the movie: the characters have REAL CHOICES. One of the things I strongly dislike in movies is when characters have zero legitimate choices and are relentlessly shuffled through the narrative. I understand the need for a “lock in” that ushers them along a certain path, but I prefer when there’s a clear intrinsic motivation to pair with the extrinsic forces. Okoye had motivation to go several different paths throughout the movie. The same goes for Killmonger. I knew exactly where he was coming from, and I agreed with his message, if not his method. Like character complexity, social commentary was also at 100%.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never seen any of Director Ryan Coogler’s other work. After seeing Black Panther, I’ve decided that’s a loss on my part. Fruitvale Station is on Netflix, so I plan to start there. You guys should consider doing the same. After you go see Black Panther, of course.