Ambitious ‘Black Panther’ Reigns Over Recent Marvel Installments
It’s taken Black Panther nearly a decade into the Marvel Cinematic Universe to receive his very own standalone film. But in truth, his presence has been known by eagle-eyed viewers since 2010’s Iron Man 2. Weaved into the expansive superhero universe, it was only a matter of time until his pivotal piece of the MCU puzzle would take on a greater role.
With his vengeful Captain America: Civil War persona in the rear-view mirror, Prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to his hidden African kingdom of Wakanda. His father’s death in Civil War ascends the young warrior to king of this technologically advanced nation. Additionally, T’Challa assumes the mantle of the Black Panther, Wakanda’s legendary protector. While respected by his people, T’Challa is immediately challenged by internal and external threats – specifically arms dealer Klaue (Andy Serkis) and black-ops soldier Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan).
Over the past decade, the scope and tone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has found itself all over the place, yet merges together as a cohesive 20-film unit. Outlandish franchise favorites such as Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok played more to the MCU’s comedic beats. However installments like Iron Man, Captain America: The Winter Solder and Captain America: Civil War face more down-to-earth stakes and layered commentaries. They’re the rarities that transcend the genre. Black Panther unquestionably joins the latter Marvel films.
Writer-director Ryan Coogler has delivered more of a dynamic character study and socio-economic commentary than spectacle. Surely, Black Panther has its fair share of stunning visual sequences, but more concerned with the complex motivations of T’Challa and Killmonger. Concepts of tradition and ending oppression butt heads as Wakanda hoards its unlimited resources from the rest of the world. It’s a double-edged sword as more access to such weaponry could disrupt the racial status quo. Though if the tech fell into the wrong hands it would just be repeat of the event of any Iron Man film or Winter Soldier. The sins of the past and eventual consequences are not as clear-cut.
SEE ALSO: Black Panther Review: All Hail the King
Coogler brings out the best in his star-studded cast. Civil War offered Boseman a limited, yet pivotal role, but Black Panther allows the 42 actor to truly shine. Like the mantle of Black Panther, Boseman carries the film with such regal precision, torn between the aforementioned conflict. Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger has been hailed as a standout and one of Marvel’s top villains to date. Jordan’s collaborated with director Coogler on multiple occasions with both Fruitvale Station and Creed. The strong bond between actor and director continues to flourish here. Like Chris Evans and Ryan Reynolds, Jordan’s been given a second crack at the superhero genre and the result is astounding. His on-screen presence will be the new villain measuring stick in the MCU rivaling that of Thanos in Infinity War. Lupita Nyong’o (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Danai Guirira (The Walking Dead), Martin Freeman (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) and Letitia Wright (Ready Player One) round out one of Marvel’s strongest ensembles. There’s ample moments for everyone to deliver.
Black Panther might be one of the better Marvel films out there, but there’s a few minor issues keeping it from being the best of the best. Its 134-minute run time can be a bit daunting, awkwardly paced at times. The absence of Jordan’s Killmonger in the early half of the film falls victim to these choices. Detail in CGI is hit or miss. Sometimes Wakanda looks absolutely breathtaking. Other times, the green screen sucks the life out of the experience. They’re minor squabbles for an otherwise compelling film.
We knew in Civil War something special was on the horizon with Boseman’s T’Challa and the advanced realm of Wakanda. Black Panther sealed the deal with one of the most significant and astounding superhero origin stories in years.
Buena Vista Home Entertainment presents Black Panther in a gorgeous 2160p transfer. While the colors don’t pop as vibrantly as the Blu-ray disc, the 4K copy feels more natural in comparison. It’s a visually soft consistency with the exception of highlighting the colorful clothing and Wakandan interiors. The Dolby Vision color palette is best utilized during the major action set piece in Korea. Blacks are impressively solid throughout.
The 4K UHD disc offers various audio choices, including English 7.1.4. Dolby Atmos, English and Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks. The Blu-ray disc offers 7.1 DTS-HDMA, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio and Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks. The 4K transfer is well-rounded, though the TV volume may be needed to provide a more immersive experience. Much detail is prioritized throughout the film as clear and coherent dialogue mesh well with the banging action sequences. You’ll feel like you’re truly in the heart of Wakanda.
Buena Vista offers a standard Marvel selection of supplements. Like previous installments, these are only available on the Blu-ray disc in this combo pack. Features include – From Page to Screen: A Roundtable Discussion, Deleted Scenes & Gag Reel, Crowning of a New King, The Warriors Within, The Hidden Kingdom Revealed and Wakanda Revealed: Exploring the Technology. If you’re looking to go beyond Black Panther, there’s also Marvel Studios – The First Ten Years: Connecting the Universe and Exclusive Sneak Peek at Ant Man and the Wasp. It’s little over an hour of additional content with From Page to Screen claiming at least 20 minutes. Overall, Black Panther is on par with previous Marvel releases.