Back in the 90’s, there was talk that Wesley Snipes wanted to do a movie based on Black Panther, but it never came about and he ended up starring in Blade. However, the idea never truly went away as in the 2000’s, with the success of the X-Men, Spider-Man, and Blade movies, Marvel announced Black Panther as one of the characters that would be involved in a movie deal with Paramount Pictures, which would end up becoming the MCU. Ever since he appeared in Civil War, there was a lot of talk about how the Black Panther’s solo movie would turn out and the trailers for it only made people want to talk about it even more. I know it got me wanting to go see it and shortly after it hit theaters, I went early one Sunday morning and watched Black Panther, and am excited to watch it again.
The plot: Millions of years ago, a vibranium meteorite crashed to Africa. Centuries later, after mankind developed on Earth, 5 tribes settled in the area, calling it Wakanda, but the tribes were constantly at war with each other. When a shaman warrior receives a vision of the panther goddess Bast, which led him to a heart-shaped herb infused with the meteorites powers, he eats the herb, granting him superhuman abilities, and became the first Black Panther. The man then united 4 of the tribes together but the 5th tribe, the Jabari, refuse and isolate themselves in the mountains. With peace settled, the Wakandans uses the vibranium to advance their civilization but as wars and chaos occur in the outside world, the countries leaders decide to keep themselves hidden in plain site by pretending to be a third world country while hiding their nation’s true power. In 1992 Oakland, California, a Wakandan native called N’Jobu is planning an arms heist with his partner James when he receives a visit from King T’Chaka. After greeting N’Jobu, T’Chaka embraces him, as N’Jobu is his baby brother, and asks how he is doing. He then tells N’Jobu that a man called Ulysses Klaue had somehow broken into Wakanda and stolen some vibranium from their storehouse. When N’Jobu denies T’Chaka’s accusations that he helped Klaue enter Wakanda, James reveals that he is another Wakanda spy named Zuri and reveals that he was helping him, and T’Chaka orders N’Jobu to be taken back to Wakanda to face the council for his crimes. In the present day, one week has passed since King T’Chaka was killed at the United Nations bombing. As his son T’Challa watches news reports talking about his becoming the new king, Okoye, the leader of the Dora Milaje (Wakanda’s elite special forces unit), pilots him towards a convoy, where one of Wakanda’s undercover operatives is being held captive. Okoye moves to go with T’Challa but he tells her he can handle things on his own and Okoye relents but tells him not to freeze when he sees “her”. Donning his helmet, T’Challa drops from their ship and throws some EMP beads at the convoy, shutting down the engines of the vehicles. T’Challa then begins attacking the guerillas but freezes when Nakia, his former lover, stops him from killing one of them, as he is just a boy that had also been kidnapped. The last guerilla uses the opportunity to grab another hostage but he is killed by Okoye, who admonishes T’Challa. T’Challa explains to Nakia why they are there and they leave, sending the other captives back to their villages while they head back to Wakanda. In London, Erik Stevens is looking at the artifacts in the African wing of the British Museum, discussing them with the curator, when he comments that one of them is from Wakanda and he plans to steal it. The woman starts to call security when she collapses due to a poison in her coffee and Klaue and his partner, disguised as paramedics, arrive and kill the security guards. Klaue breaks open the display case and grabs the artifact, confirming it is made of vibranium and tells Stevens that he already has a buyer for it and Stevens warns him that the Wakandans will come after him but Klaue isn’t concerned and they leave, with Stevens grabbing a mask from another display as they do. Back in Wakanda, Zuri leads the coronation ceremony and after T’Challa’s powers are stripped from him, the offer is made for any tribe to challenge him from the throne. The 4 tribes say they will not challenge for the throne but before Zuri can declare T’Challa king, the Jabari tribe, led by M’Baku, arrive at ceremony. M’Baku says that the Jabari have watched and can’t stand for how Wakanda is being run now and challenges T’Challa for the throne, which T’Challa accepts. The two men fight, with M’Baku getting the upper hand but T’Challa is able to overcome him but instead of killing him, he forces M’Baku to yield, saying his people need him. T’Challa has his powers restored and as he is healed of his wounds, his mind is taken to the ancestral plane, where he is visited by his father and T’Challa asks him for advise on being a king. The next day, T’Challa tries to convince Nakia to stay in Wakanda but she tells him she can’t as she wants to do more to help people in the other countries and tries to get him to have Wakanda do more as well. As he talks with his friend W’kabi about Nakia’s wishes, they are both contacted by Okoye and head to a council meeting. In the meeting, Okoye tells them about the theft of the Wakandan artifact and Klaue selling it in South Korea and T’Challa decides to head out to South Korea to capture or kill him. After heading to his sister Shuri’s lab so she can give him some new equipment, he heads to South Korea with Okoye and Nakia. The three head to an illegal casino that Nakia knows about during her undercover days, and as they scope out the place, T’Challa recognizes CIA agent Everett Ross and tells them that there may be some complications. T’Challa approaches Ross and asks him if he is there to buy the vibranium and when Ross doesn’t deny it, T’Challa tells him that he is leaving the building with Klaue. When Klaue arrives, he as several men with him and T’Challa realizes that Klaue expected them to show up. When Okoye’s cover is blown, Klaue has his men attack everyone and he manages to stun T’Challa with his hidden sonic blaster when T’Challa confronts him. Klaue and his men leave, with Okoye and Nakia chasing after them and T’Challa eventually follows, riding atop a car that is being remotely driven by Shuri. Klaue’s men split up and T’Challa, Okoye, and Nakia split up to chase after them, taking out all of Klaue’s subordinates but Klaue is able to destroy Okoye and Nakia’s car. T’Challa catches up to Klaue and disables his car, causing it to wreck and moves to kill Klaue but Okoye and Nakia, who had been given a lift by Ross, tells him to stop as there are too many people there filming the encounter. Klaue is taken to a CIA holding facility and Ross questions him about his arm cannon but Klaue tells him that it is nothing compared to the weapons that Wakanda has, explaining the history behind the country. As Ross questions T’Challa about the truth of Klaue’s claims, Stevens and his team show up and break Klaue out of the cell and escape, severely wounding Ross in the process. Realizing that Ross will die if they don’t help him, T’Challa decides to bring Ross to Wakanda so Shuri can hela him, much to the chagrin of Okoye. After taking Ross to Shuri’s lab, and T’Challa breaking the news to W’Kabi that they did not capture Klaue, T’Challa goes to see Zuri and question him about his uncle N’Jobu, as Stevens was wearing a ring just like T’Challa’s. Zuri is reluctant to speak but when T’Challa demands answers, he tells him the truth about N’Jobu, who had a son while in America, and that T’Chaka had been forced to kill N’Jobu when he attempted to kill Zuri for betraying him. Meanwhile, Stevens kills Klaue and his team, then transports Klaue’s body to Wakanda and shows it to W’Kabi, who asks who Stevens is. Ross regains consciousness and is shocked to see the lab that he is in, as well as the mountain of vibranium. As he talks with Shuri, Okoye contacts her to ask where T’Challa is and tells her about Stevens and Klaue and when Shuri sees the image of Stevens she is shocked when Okoye says he is Wakandan but Ross says that Stevens is an American Black Ops member. T’Challa is with Nakai, discussing what his father did to his uncle when Shuri contacts him and he heads to the palace. Ross tells T’Challa and Shuri about Stevens, who had gone by the code name Killmonger in his unit, and when Killmonger is brought to the Council, T’Challa says he knows who he is. Killmonger reveals that he is the son of N’Jobu and exercises his right to combat for the throne and T’Challa reluctantly accepts. T’Challa is stripped of his powers and fights Killmonger but Killmonger is able to beat T’Challa and moves to kill him but Zuri stops him, saying that he is the reason that N’Jobu is dead. Killmonger kills Zuri and as T’Challa reacts in grief, Killmonger chastises T’Challa’s capabilities to the Elders before throwing him over the waterfall. Nakia gets Shuri and her mother Ramonda to safety, as well as Ross, but when she tries to get Okoye to come with her, Okoye reluctantly tells her that the Dora Milaje serve the throne, no matter who is on it. Killmonger undergoes the ritual to gain the powers of the Black Panther, instead of the Ancestral Plane, Killmonger finds himself in his father’s old apartment, where N’Jobu tells him that they are both lost but Killmonger rejects that idea. Regaining consciousness, Killmonger orders the garden of the heart-shaped herb to be razed so nobody else can get the power of the Black Panther but Nakia manages to sneak down and steal one of the herbs before they are destroyed. Once he is on the throne, Killmonger tells the Council that they should send vibranium weapons to their “war dogs” so that they can arm revolutions and overthrow the various governments and set themselves up as rulers. Okoye says that is not the Wakandan way but W’Kabi says that the old ways are no longer practical and now they should embrace Killmonger’s idea. Meanwhile, Nakia, Ramonda, Shuri, and Ross travel to Jabariland, where Nakia intends to give M’Baku the last of the herbs so that he might overthrow Killmonger. M’Baku has them follow him to a hut, where they find T’Challa half buried in snow, and M’Baku explains that one of his fishermen found him on the river and brought him there, where he has been in a coma ever since. Ramonda gives the herb to T’Challa, who is transported to the Ancestral Plane again but instead of going with his father, he tells T’Chaka and his ancestors that their policies led them to this and he must go and right their wrongs. After T’Challa regains consciousness, Ross tells him about Killmonger’s training and he realizes that Killmonger is planning on doing exactly what his father wanted T’Chaka to do. Deciding that they need to stop Killmonger, T’Challa thanks M’Baku for saving his life, who says that he owed T’Challa for sparing his own but refuses to help T’Challa when he asks him to help stop Killmonger. Killmonger oversees the first shipment of weapons to his war dogs but the plane is brought down by T’Challa, who tells him that the challenge is not finished. Killmonger order W’Kabi to kill T’Challa and, despite Okoye telling him not to, W’Kabi orders the border tribe to attack. Okoye tells Killmonger he is not fit to be king and sends the Dora Milaje to help T’Challa while she attacks Killmonger with three other soldiers. Inside Shuri’s lab, Shuri tells Ross that they are going to remote hijack a ship for him to fly and shoot down the ships carrying vibranium weapons and while he does that, they attack Killmonger when he knocks Okoye and her warriors down the hill. Killmonger beats Nakia and is going to kill Shuri but T’Challa sees him and attacks him, knocking him down into the mine. T’Challa tells Shuri to activate the train on their level, as the sonic resonators will deactivate the suit that Killmonger is wearing, even though it will deactivate his own suit as well. On the surface, W’Kabi’s border tribe is winning and tells Okoye to surrender when M’Baku and the Jabari arrive and begin fighting them, and Okoye finally is able to get W’Kabi to surrender while Ross is able to destory the ships transporting the weapons. Back in the mine, T’Challa and Killmonger continue fighting and T’Challa is able to stab Killmonger, and after they talk briefly, T’Challa takes Killmonger to see the sunset over Wakanda and offers to heal him but Killmonger refuses, choosing to die rather than live in bondage. T’Challa returns to the throne, adding M’Baku to the Council of Elders so that all of the tribes of Wakanda are now represented. He then speaks with Nakia and asks her to stay, saying that he has a way of fulfilling her calling and they kiss. Later, T’Challa and Shuri travel to Oakland and T’Challa explains that he bought the building where N’Jobu died, as well as the two buildings next to them, and is making them the first Wakanda International Outreach Center, with Nakia and Shuri running it. Some time later, T’Challa, accompanied by Nakia, Okoye, and another guard, attends the United Nations and reveals Wakanda’s true power to the assembly. Meanwhile, in Wakanda, Shuri is shown to be helping Bucky Barnes, whom the children call “White Wolf”, recover from Hydra’s brainwashing.
Black Panther was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Black Panther elevates superhero cinema to thrilling new heights while telling one of the MCU’s most absorbing stories — and introducing some of its most fully realized characters.” The Wakandan language is an actual language called Xhosa, a South African language that is native to Nelson Mandela. John Kani, who played T’Chaka, is from the region and speaks the language and it was agreed during his filming of his role in Captain America: Civil War that it would be the language of Wakanda. The movie was a box office success, earning $1.347 billion off of a $210 million budget, garnering several award nominations and accolades, and a sequel has been announced.
This is a fantastic movie and probably one of the most complete movies that the MCU has released to date. The acting was incredible, with Chadwick Boseman doing a stellar job as T’Challa. Michael B. Jordan was equally good as Killmonger and was probably one of the most well written villains that the MCU has shown. Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia), Danai Gurira (Okoye), Letitia Wright (Shuri), Winston Duke (M’Baku), and Andy Serkis (Klaue) were also good in their roles, with Letitia somewhat stealing the show in several of her scenes. The story was great, picking up shortly after the events of Civil War and showcasing the doubts that T’Challa has in his new role as king and trying to determine what is best for Wakanda. I also thought that Kilmonger’s story arc, where he was angry at Wakanda for his father’s death but also felt like they could do more to help their race across the world if he was in charge and his desire to prove that at any cost is his driving purpose in life. The locations in the movie were incredible and the special effects were really good, except for a couple of scenes during the final fight between T’Challa and Killmonger that looked a little hokey. That part aside, this was an icredible movie and one that is well worth watching.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5