Black Panther review: Ryan Coogler pounces on the Marvel Cinematic Universe

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"Black Panther" is a movie that we need now more than ever.

"When Black Panther works, it's thrillingly alive". In fact, Black Panther has a ideal score on Rotten Tomatoes (as of now).

Arguably, the black superhero genre began and ended with the turn-of-the-millennium Blade franchise, an ultra-stylised genre hybrid bashing together science fiction and horror that starred Wesley Snipes as a half vampire "daywalker" with an aesthetic look that owed so much to The Matrix.

While films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War explored the dangers of protective overreach and superhero oversight, Black Panther gets grounded with its politics.

The big budget film from Walt Disney Pictures and Marvel Studios has an nearly entirely black cast led by Chadwick Boseman and is directed by acclaimed African American director Ryan Coogler. The extensive ensemble is very much led from the front by Boseman, an intellectually and physically agile performer who simply rocks as Black Panther.

"You believe in T'Challa, you believe in Wakanda, and you believe - maybe for the first time - that the MCU actually matters", writes Indiewire's David Ehrlich. As a studio, Marvel has thrived by redefining the constructs of serialized cinematic storytelling, honoring the comic book characters fans love, and allowing filmmakers to put their singular stamp on the material.

Ryan Coogler, the 31-year-old director whose brief resumé already includes an acclaimed indie drama (the 2013 festival breakout Fruitvale Station) and an underdog triumph (2015's stellar Rocky reboot Creed), clearly fought hard to get Panther to the screen the way he envisioned it: Not as a boilerplate blockbuster window-dressed with African-American faces, but a story fully, joyfully rooted in black culture.

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Seated in the row behind prolific author Tananarive Due and Entertainment Weekly columnist Anthony Brenzican, I was excited to share my thoughts about what we were about to experience. Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) and Okoye (Danai Gurira), the head of the Dora Milaje - T'Challa's all-female kickass bodyguard team - are notably defined.

Any quibbles I have are just Marvel being Marvel. Those ideas are the movie's supple backbone, not just stuff that's been added to make the whole venture seem important.

Ryan Coogler manages to make this world so expansive by carefully incorporating scenes that both explore the spirituality and mythology of Wakanda and also make revelations about T'Challa and his father T'Chaka that truly impact the story and other characters. "So you don't feel like you're just playing a guy in a suit; you're playing a conflicted, well-rounded character", Boseman said. I'd give them that.

I plan to see it again opening weekend. We're doing what we want.

Also in the mix is Martin Freeman as a buffoonish Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Everett Ross while back at Wakandia the cast if filled out by Lupita Nyong'o as top spy / T'Challa's love interest Nakia, Angela Bassett as his mother and Get Out's Daniel Kaluuya as T'Challa's best friend, W'Kabi.

Actors Lupita Nyong'o, Michael B. Jordan, and Chadwick Boseman attend the Marvel Studios' em Black Panther /em Global Junket Press Conference on January 30, 2018 at Montage Beverly Hills in Beverly Hills, California.