This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.
18. Black Panther (2018)
"Great! Another broken white boy for us to fix. This is going to be fun!" - Shuri
Ryan Coogler was asked to do a fairly large job here. Not only establish a character we'd only gotten a subplot with in Civil War, but also the entire world that character inhabits. A mythology as well as a rogue's gallery and sidekick/support squad. The whole thing, all in one go.
Coogler nailed it. There is a great bonus feature on the Infinity War digital release, that is a roundtable discussion with Favreau, the Russos, James Gunn, Joss Whedon and Ryan Coogler. He’s the youngest by quite a bit at the table, references the fact that he was in film school when Iron Man released to theatres, and yet they are all clearly in awe of what he’s done in this movie (and the promise that it shows for his future as a filmmaker).
This viewing brought me the realization that T’Chaka and T’Challa’s storyline is remarkably similar to Howard and Tony Stark’s. T’Chaka and Howard are both too arrogant and sure of themselves to admit their failings, both allow that to come between them and their son, both sons long to live up to the unassailable image of the father, while wrestling with the reality of their legacies. The MCU is FULL of daddy issues.
Chadwick Boseman is SOOO good in what could easily be a one or two-note role. The humanity and nobility that he showed in his brief scenes in Civil War are allowed to really shine over the course of two hours here. He’s also thankfully given a foil in the person of Erik Killmonger Stevens. Michael B. Jordan was hot in Hollywood before this movie, afterward he’s a superstar. The rumors say that he’ll return in some form for the sequel. I hope that it’s not a bodily resurrection of some sort as his death here is the kind of thing that will (and does in this film’s resolution) drive our hero to be even better.
Killmonger isn’t right that violence is the answer, but he is right in that those to whom much has been given, much is required. Wakanda has been blessed for a thousand years in this universe, and thankfully T’Challa recognizes that it’s passed time to share some of those blessings.
Especially in a post-snap world, Wakanda can be a stabilizing influence on the world stage. BUT, that level of availability and transparency will also lead to struggles at home, which will make excellent fodder for future Black Panther films.
The other thing that I’m especially excited to see play out onscreen is Black Panther’s position in The Illuminati. I very seriously doubt we’ll ever hear that name used in the MCU, but now that Reed Richards, Charles Xavier, Black Panther et al are ALL under the Marvel Studios banner, I sincerely hope that we get a panel of super-powered decision-makers that both save the universe and doom us to new trials because of their decisions. These stories are some of my favorite in the comics and knowing that all of these great minds can now be brought together in cinema is really exciting. Chadwick Boseman would not only fit in amongst such a crowd, he’d likely be a leader, his T’Challa is really amazing.
Even more so, when you think about how many brilliant and strong characters are introduced alongside the Black Panther. Shuri outshines even Banner or Tony Stark with her brilliance while Okoye is clearly the MCU’s fiercest non-powered warrior (other than MAYBE Black Widow?). The entire court is made up of interesting characters. I’m sure the budget would be exorbitant, but I’d love to see a Disney+ series set in Wakanda that DOESN’T focus on the Royal family. Show me the edges and back alleys of Wakanda! The fact that Coogler and his team did this with just one film shows that he is one of the most promising directors in Hollywood. With people like him and Taika Waititi involved, the fresh ideas aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.