Enthralling escapism interlaced with a socio-political commentary, Ryan Coogler's Black Panther is one of the best films in the MCU, making one question if a better movie is even possible given the intrinsic limitations of the Marvel apparatus. Featuring some of the best world-building seen in the MCU, Black Panther interweaves traditional African aesthetic into technologically advanced Wakanda with a sense of ease that is both vibrant and other-worldly, yet it still stings of authenticity, rich with tradition and heritage. The various aspects of African culture never feel fetishized or exploited, but celebrated, as Coogler and company have created a world that feels organic, fresh, even euphoric in its depiction of this grand civilization. Black Panther inevitably suffers from many of the same issues that plague any film of this ilk, featuring significant bloat, bombastically dull action sequences, and some headache-inducing dialogue that is cringe-worthy, forceful, and cartoonish; but what really separates Black Panther from nearly every other film in the Marvel MCU is its characterizations, mainly its antagonist. Heroes are fallible in Black Panther, and villains are complex, multi-dimensioned, and even sympathetic, a character who is a victim, whose pain and morphed into rage and violence. Black Panther is an escapist experience but its mere existence relative to the cultural zeitgeist makes it more than that; and the way Coogler uses Michael B Jordan's turn as the antagonist ends up serving as a perfect conduit for the larger socio-polical aspects related to race relations through the historic prism of colonization. One shouldn't expect any grand assertions, but it's admirable and impressive to see a film like this touch on such complex issues related to protectionism, colonialism, imperialism, and group identity; Many will find its exploration shallow, but this simply isn't a fair assertion to make when remembering what Black Panther is, being just another piece in the larger Marvel apparatus.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.