Since his debut in Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa aka Black Panther has been top of mind for fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in particular, and comic book movie fans in general. But what has happened in the months leading up to the release of the scene-stealing character’s stand-alone film, has been mind-blowing.
The hype and projections leading up to Black Panther have likely gone beyond anything that parent company Disney could have never imagined.
Take a look at the four reasons why I am most excited:
Ryan Coogler is firmly establishing himself as one of Hollywood’s finest directors. I loved his gut-wrenching directorial debut Fruitvale Station. Although it is a tough watch in many ways, the praise he’s received for it is warranted. But more importantly, “Fruitvale” is likely why a certain guy is playing the main villain in this movie. More on that later.
I truly enjoyed Creed. I’m not the biggest fan of the Rocky franchise, but as an avid boxing fan and as someone who spent his college years in Philadelphia, I can really tell that Coogler is a master of atmosphere and setting. The gym workout scenes and in-ring action give Creed a very authentic feel. Similarly, the film’s gritty street scenes, from the local boxing gym culture to the dirt bike sub-culture, show his ability to paint the proper picture.
Buoyed by an early 97% Rotten Tomatoes score, it appears that the young filmmaker has another critical success on his hands.
Similar to the aforementioned Coogler, Boseman has been on his own hot streak of sorts. Me and my brother jokingly refer to him as the “black Daniel Day Lewis” given his penchant for starring in biopics. From his dynamic depiction of Jackie Robinson in 42 to his sizzling performance as James Brown in Get on Up to his fine performance as Thurgood Marshall in the film of the same name, Boseman is craving out a niche similar to that of a younger Denzel Washington–who similarly depicted real-life characters early in his film career.
But Boseman’s turn as Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War shows that he can play fictional characters just as well. Like Coogler, he’s a master of his craft. Not really an avid comic book fan before being cast for the role, Boseman immersed himself in the source material and even worked with a dialect coach to develop an authentic-sounding African accent. This man means business, and I can’t wait to see him in action.
Alas, we finally get to see Nyong’o in a sci-fi franchise without computer animation! She depicted the CGI-based Maz Kanata, which was a disappointment for me as a 1) Star Wars fan and 2) fan of her beauty and brilliance as an actress. She was amazing in her Oscar-winning performance in 12 Years a Slave, and I loved her performance as Nakku Harriet in the woefully-overlooked Queen of Katwe.
Early screenings suggest that her portrayal of Nakia in Black Panther is basically badass. It will be a departure from the comic book source material, but it will also be a departure for her as an actress. I am sure she’s up to the task. I really can’t wait to see her and the Dora Milaje kick butt. As the father of two scrappy daughters, this will be a sight to see.
Michael B. Jordan
I am so happy to see “the other Michael Jordan” recover from the disaster that was the most recent Fantastic Four (2015) as Johnny Storm, and land in another major superhero movie. Ironically enough, his Marvel movie cohort Chris Evans (Captain America), rose from the ashes of his Johnny Storm run from 2005-2007. Maybe there’s something to “starring in a comic book movie flop before turning up bigger and better than ever in the genre?”
I see you Ryan Reynolds!
All kidding aside, Jordan is a fine damn actor, and has already had smashing success with Coogler in the aforementioned Fruitvale Station and Creed. Coming off the heels of Michael Keaton’s multi-dimensional, villainous turn as Vulture, in Spider-Man: Homecoming, I can’t wait to see what promises to be a multi-dimensional Erik Killmonger. This would represent a nice trend for villains in the MCU, who besides Thor‘s Loki, have been rather “blah” through 19 movies.
There are lots of reasons to get excited about this movie. My overall feelings are a happy blend of pride at the multifaceted depictions of native Africans and diasporic Africans that I will witness later this week as well as the knowledge that Black Panther will lead into the events of Avengers: Infinity War.
Speaking of which, I can’t wait to see the post-credits scene!
It’s a great time to be a geek!