Before we begin this review, I wanted to take some time to appreciate Chadwick Boseman (1976-2020) who passed away this year from cancer. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016, but kept it private and continued to act in several films. He was an incredible actor and I was extremely saddened to hear the news of his passing. Though I have only seen him in the role of Black Panther, I know that he has done incredible work in other films as well. If you’d like to go see what other films he’s been in, here is his IMDB page. I sincerely hope Marvel continues to honor his memory by not recasting his role, but rather giving him a proper send-off in the next film and passing the mantle of Black Panther to Shuri.
This film is absolutely incredible, from the plot development, to the character development, to the soundtrack and score. I loved this film the first time I saw it, and I still love it to this day. It grips the audience from the get-go as T’Challa realized that the old ways no longer were good for Wakanda and the world. Wakanda has been closed off for too long and he opens it up to the world in order to help those who are struggling. This also ties Wakanda and T’Challa into Infinity War because Wakanda is where the main battle takes place. I would highly recommend this film, and if you haven’t already, go check out the soundtrack!
The film begins with the story of how Wakanda came to be and why they’ve remained hidden all this time. The animation of this screen was incredible and I know it took a long time to create. The Marvel intro on Disney+ for this film was different from the others; it was a beautiful tribute to Chadwick Boseman in the film and behind the scenes. Following the tribute, we get a brief scene setting up some backstory for the antagonist. This movie takes place immediately following Civil War and we see an incredible ceremony where T’Challa becomes king. The culture, tradition, and African music within the film were beautiful. It was refreshing and exciting to see the details of these traditions and hear the language of Xhosa.
There were only a few obvious easter-eggs within the film that a normal viewer could catch. Stan Lee’s cameo was of a man playing craps in Korea; he takes T’Challa’s winnings claiming he will hold onto them. Shuri drops two big easter-eggs, though one may go over the heads of those who don’t know classic vines. The first was Shuri making a vine reference when she said “WHAT ARE THOSE,” to T’Challa’s traditional king sandals. The second was when they bring her Ross and she mentions having another broken white boy to fix. This is an obvious reference to Bucky, who was taken toWakanda to be healed by their technology.
Shuri is an incredible, brilliant, and strong young woman and I loved how this movie portrayed her character. Her brilliance is shown throughout as she continues to provide upgrades to their technology, heal injuries, and prepare planning for their outreach programs. Though we don’t see it as much, she is an extremely skilled fighter as well. During the ceremony when M’Baku calls her out everyone moves their arms in front of her. If you pay close attention, you’ll notice that they’re not protecting her, they’re holding her back. There is also a theory that she took the Black Panther necklace because she was planning to take the herd, wear the suit, and fight Killmonger. In the next film we may see her take up the mantle, as she does in the comics, and potentially take on a surprising villain.
From the start of this film to the end, T’Challa is going on a huge emotional journey. First, he is trying to cope with his father’s passing and his taking up the mantle as king. Second, he discovers that he has a cousin and begins to question the way his father ruled. He is not making decisions for himself, but for the good of Wakanda now. Through all of this, he becomes a great king as he realizes that Wakanda has been closed off from the world for too long. He is ready to open it up to the world and provide better opportunities for those who have nothing. This is a huge change from tradition but one that was necessary. Though we will not get to see him in the next film, the things he did will no doubt be honored and shown.
There were two end credit scenes, as normal, but neither really set up much in the way of future films. The first was a UN conference where T’Challa was sharing that Wakanda was going to open up to the world; which we can imagine plays a bit of a role in the future Black Panther film. The second was Shuri checking on Bucky (who is called White Wolf) to teach him about all kinds of things. We can only imagine she is catching him up on the world, teaching him how to adapt, and preparing him for his new life. Fun fact: in the comics the Queen Mother adopts Bucky and he is properly given the name of White Wolf, and is granted diplomatic immunity. I would love to see this or a reference to this in his show or the next Black Panther movie!
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