BWW Review: BLACK PANTHER at Theaters Everywhere

BWW Review: BLACK PANTHER at Theaters Everywhere

BWW Review: BLACK PANTHER at Theaters Everywhere
Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa a.k.a. Black Panther

What can be said about the film adaptation of Marvel Comics' BLACK PANTHER that hasn't been reported already?

Yes, it's a movie blockbuster (bringing in an estimated $192M in the first three days alone), and yes, it's the first Marvel movie directed by a African-American.

But did you know that Black Panther's first appearance in Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966) preceded the Black Panther Party (BPP) by three months? So, did life imitate art by Jack Kirby or coincide with the story by Stan Lee? The film acknowledges both.

Co-writers Joe Robert Cole and Ryan Coogler (who also directed) set the backstory in in Coogler's hometown of Oakland during a post-BPP era of civil unrest. It chronicles a remarkable evolution of the Panther's origin story by Roy Thomas in The Avengers #87 April 1971 to Ta-Nehisi Coates' graphic novel series that began in 2016.

As this story goes, Wakandan Prince N'Jobu (Sterling K. Brown) plans to use his native country's hidden technology to help African descendants conquer their oppressors. His brother, King T'Chaka (John Kani), stops him and abandons his own nephew Erik (played as an adult by Michael B. Jordan, who also starred in Coogler's CREED).

Without divulging more spoilers, you can probably see where this plot line is headed, but what you can't see is how well-crafted and well-cast BLACK PANTHER is compared to some of its predecessors in the superhero genre.

The special effects are overwhelming at times, but this film is equally down to earth with some lighthearted interaction, such as that between T'Challa and his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), or M'Baku (Winston Duke) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman).

Undoubtedly, BLACK PANTHER will be another major blockbuster for The Walt Disney Company, but will its characters continue on their own or be engulfed by The Avengers in Marvel's Cinematic Universe? Only time and box office receipts will tell.

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Lee Cooley Lee Cooley started freelancing as a film critic in 1978. After more than 20 years in TV, radio and advertising, he started the non-profit phase of his career (Make-A-Wish America, Valley Youth Theatre) and currently is communications manager for the largest trade association in Arizona. Cooley is past president of Irish Network Arizona and the Arizona Southwest Heritage Foundation. With roots in community theater, he has played a variety of character roles including Mort in CALIFORNIA SUITE, Sheriff Thomas in RAINMAKER and Elwood in HARVEY.
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