Ahhhhhh yes, Black Panther, this tasty number, an undeniable hit at the box office and the first ever MCU film nominated for a Best Picture oscar. Whether you think it deserved the nomination or not, the fact that Black Panther reigned supreme can’t be denied.
T’Challa has been a fan favourite since his introduction in Civil War, and his solo movie kept the momentum going, making his mass appeal as unbreakable as, ohhh I don’t know… VIBRANIUM (I had to).
The opening sequence of the movie was a visually stunning exposition dump about the history of Wakanda. In summary; a vibranium-packed meteor fell to Africa, infusing itself in the plants and such, and giving that particular bit of land endless supplies of the strongest substance found on Earth. One dude saw a neon purple plant and was like, “this seems like a good idea”, so he crushed it up and drank it and got superpowers and became King, uniting 5 tribes. Good work, bud! Then they all decided that because humanity is the worst, they’re going to keep their magic element a secret and pretend to be super poor and helpless.
That brought us to 1992 America, where the King of Wakanda was paying a visit to his lil’ bro.
The king’s brother helped Ulysses Klaue (remember him from Age of Ultron??) to steal Vibranium from Wakanda. Thus, he was ordered back to Wakanda to stand trial. A kid watched the ships swoosh away, and that was that, no harm no foul (*wink).
And THAT brought us to the present, where T’Challa was watching a news story to remind audiences about the events of Civil War (hey guys, remember when the king died? Yeah, the king is dead. Dead king – don’t forget!).
Anyway, T’Challa was sucked out of the plane in order to swoop in and rescue a bunch of women from… I don’t know, slave traders? It was not a good situation. It turns out that T’Challa’s ex girlfriend / current friend-crush Nakia was on an undercover mission to bring down the organization.
T’Challa invited her to his coronation, because she can bring down a slave ring any old time. Also, has anyone checked to make sure Lupita Nyong’o isn’t an actual Goddess? Because DAMN GIRL.
The Queen (actual real-life queen Angela Bassett), and T’Challa’s sister Shuri (everyone’s instant favourite) were waiting for him upon arrival. The banter! The jokes! The clear and obvious love and respect! My heart is unabashedly in love with this whole family, and I do NOT care who knows it!
Meanwhile, in Britain…
Meet Erik Killmonger, a criminal with an obsession of all things Wakandan (omg I wonder WHY????). With the help of Klaue, they stole an artifact from a museum that was made of vibranium. Oh, and Killmonger stole a mask because he was “feelin’ it”, and the entire audience hmmmmmmmmmmmmmed involuntarily.
Challenge Day was upon them, and it looked fun AS HELL. Everyone was dancing and chanting and wearing awesome outfits. Then all the leaders of the different tribes high-fived T’Challa instead of challenging him, and everything was great.
M’Baku (my boyfriend) came from the mountain tribe to challenge T’Challa because he’s a technophobe or something. It was a very thrilling fight (T’Challa got stabbed!), but ultimately ended with the star of the movie winning and sparing my boyfriend’s life.
This stab wound was NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN. Hahaha, superheroes. Then it was time for T’Challa to get his Black Panther powers back, and meet up with his dead father in Vision Land, which was very sad and very beautiful.
My question is this – T’Challa already had the Black Panther powers before, so he’s done this already, right? But his father was still alive then, so… did he just chill out with random dead relatives he’d never met? How awkward was that, do you think?
He woke up and had a nice/awkward moment with Nakia where he was all, “I’m not asking you to marry me, what I’m saying is that it would be COOL if you married me, that’s not the same thing,” and Nakia was like, “can we hurry this up, I’m still so busy.” Then they were called to a council meeting to discuss Ulysses Klaue.
W’Kabi wanted to kill Klaue SO BAD because he lost both his parents the last time Klaue rocked up to Wakanda. But T’Challa told him to stay put, then pinky-promised that he’d bring Klaue back for justice.
Shuri is the best, that is absolute fact. She’s a child genius who invents awesome technology with vibranium. She took him through the new suit options (which collects kinetic energy for blast-back) and then sent him on his way.
It has been a little over a week since the events of Civil War, where these two handsome heroes met. Agent Ross (the ever dreamy Martin Freeman), was there to purchase the stolen vibranium from Klaue (and perhaps arrest him?). But Klaue brought A LOT of dudes, and a fight broke out, followed by an awesome car chase.
That’s right folks, Shuri took remote control of a car and chauffeured her brother through a chase while he posed on top like a cool guy.
I will not lie to you – I often zone out during car chases, but this one was just so damn awesome; Okoye riding the top of the car and taking out an SUV by THROWING A SPEAR, T’Challa taking out a car with his kinetic energy, Nakia skidding to a stop in only the seat… it was just a lot of fun, and ended with T’Challa ripping apart Klaue’s car with his hands.
Klaue spilled so much tea, the floor was soaked in it, and now that office will for sure get ants. Ross barely had to work for it! Klaue gave him ALL the information on Wakanda.
Why were all the beans spilled, you ask? Wouldn’t it be bad for Claue if the US government knew about all the available vibranium? Wouldn’t that give him professional competition? Well, yes, but… the plot, you see.
Anyway, then Erik and his motley crew broke Klaue out by blowing a hole in the wall. T’Challa tried to stop him, but his kinetic energy worked against him and they got away. Meanwhile, Ross had jumped in front of Nakia to save her from a bullet and ended up taking it himself.
T’Challa decided to take Ross back to Wakanda to heal him, which seemed like it might have political repercussions, but actually didn’t. While everyone was 100% cool about Ross, there was one person who wasn’t cool with the result of the mission.
W’Kabi was very upset that T’Challa didn’t bring him a guy to murder. VERY. UPSET.
Yeahhhhhh, so Erik shot his girlfriend in order to get at Klaue and kill him as an offering to get inside Wakanda. Klaue was all, “hey idiot, they’ll never let you in because you’re not one of them,” and Erik was like, “GUESS AGAIN,” and revealed that he’s the son of the King’s brother. Then he killed Klaue, which was good narratively because he was the worst, but sad in real life because Andy Serkis is just so good.
T’Challa confronted Zuri about the past, and all was revealed – the Prince was about to kill Zuri, so the King killed him with his claws and decided to leave his kid behind in order to “maintain the lie” that the prince was NOT a no-good traitor.
Erik came to the Wakandan border with the corpse of Klaue, which instantly won over W’Kabi (the lesson here is that if you’re having trouble making friends, just give them a dead body).
Ross woke up and, like everyone else on the planet, immediately wanted to be best friends with Shuri. She showed him around their Jetsons-lair, but then it was time for some intel. Ross knew Erik as “Killmonger”, because he’d killed so many people for the US government. So they brought him into the council, giving him an audience for some reason, even though T’Challa knew the secret he would reveal.
Erik gave his pitch for the direction he wants Wakanda to go in, then challenged T’Challa to a fight for the throne, seeing as he’s of royal blood and all. T’Challa was like, “fine, whatever,” and everyone else was like, “GASP!”
The fight was awesome and horrible. The boys were well-matched, but in the end, Killmonger won (also killing “Uncle James”, Zuri, when he tried to interfere). Shuri’s devastated scream as her brother was thrown off a cliff to his supposed death was heart-wrenching.
Nakia got the Queen and Shuri out of there before they could be presumably murdered. She tried to get Okoye to go with them, but the General is fiercely loyal not to one person, but to the whole country. This standoff made me respect both women SO MUCH. Both had valid points, and both were fighting for what they believed to be right.
“Then you serve your country.” – “No, I save my country.” Honestly, chills.
Nakia took one of the glowing purple herbs of power before Killmonger could destroy them all, then invited Ross to come along, and they all got the h-e-double hockey sticks outta there.
Erik took the herb and went to Vision Land to visit his own father, who honestly seemed like a pretty cool guy. Yes, he stole vibranium from his motherland, and sure, he drew his gun on Zuri, but (just like his son) his motivations were relatable. He also seemed very sad at what his son had become.
Now that Erik was king, his plan was to send vibranium weapons to their “war dogs” around the world, in order to cause revolutions and murder all those who supported an unfair system. ALL MOVIES EVERYWHERE, BEHOLD – this is what a three-dimensional, compelling and relatable “villain” looks like.
Nakia and Co. went to my boyfriend’s house to explain the situation and to offer him the power-herb so HE could become Black Panther and fight Killmonger. BUT he had something to show them…
T’Challa is aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive! He was found by the water, and my boyfriend saved his life to repay him for that one time T’Challa didn’t kill him. Anyway, they gave him the herb, and he had another chat with his dad.
T’Challa told his dad and the rest of his ancestors off for ignoring the plight of the rest of the world, and his dad specifically for igniting the plot of this movie.
Then he woke up and they all decided to fight.
Sure, M’Baku. Suuuuuuuuuuuuure.
Killmonger and W’Kabi were sending out the weapons when T’Challa interrupted with the technicality that he is not, in fact, dead. Okoye was all, “awesome, let’s play by the rules,” but Killmonger and W’Kabi were like, “I respectfully decline,” and a big fight broke out.
Yes. Those are armoured rhinos. Hahahahhahahahha forever. I love it.
Meanwhile, Okoye and her gals almost had Killmonger, but he used the kinetic energy of the suit and blasted them away, then he GOT blasted by Nakia and Suri, who used hand-cannon things that Shuri likely invented herself.
While this was happening, our boy Ross was remotely flying a jet in order to stop the vibranium weapons from getting out into the world.
The room he was playing in started getting shot at, but he kept going like the brave little toaster he is. It was very exciting, and not great for the sponge-cake that functions as my heart! Thankfully, he got the planes and then skedaddled just before the building was destroyed.
Erik was about to kill Shuri (I legitimately screamed in the theatre, you guys), but T’Challa knocked him off the edge and down into… I want to say a train station? I don’t know, but they were on the train tracks that Shuri had rigged to cancel out vibranium power, so neither of their suits worked.
The CGI fight lasted a while, and was strangely the least interesting part of this movie.
My boyfriend showed up to fight, and (even though it was very obvious this would be the outcome) I remember fits-pumping in the theatre.
Meanwhile, Okoye had a showdown with her “love” which resulted in him kneeling to her, because I guess he isn’t 100% a dummy.
The CGI fight ended with T’Challa stabbing Erik in the general body area. This lead to a very nice cousin bonding sesh where our boy carried Erik to a cliff to watch the sunset and they talked about their hopes, dreams, crushes, and favourite ice cream flavours.
And so Erik died, with the amazing line, “bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships, because they knew death was better than bondage.”
Like, damn, movie.
And so, with a change of heart caused by the events of a movie and the opinions of the people around him (holy character journey, MCU!), T’Challa decided to finally open the doors of Wakanda to the rest of the world (and he got a smooch from Nakia). He opened an outreach centre for kids in Erik’s old neighbourhood, and he went to the UN to offer his services.
The after credits scene revealed a very zen, familiar, dreamy one-armed white dude they called White Wolf.
And that was that! All in a VERY good movie, that hopefully taught the MCU a few things about storytelling.
Erik Killmonger was a well rounded villain with relatable intentions. We could understand why he wanted what he wanted. Compare him to say, the Dark Elves, or Ego, or Dormammu, or even Ronan the Accuser. The stakes were high, sure, but did we know WHY? They wanted to kill everyone, or plunge the world in darkness, or cover it in goop, or I don’t know… give everyone permed mullets and put oregano in ice cream or something. They wanted big, awful things simply for the sake of being a villain.
Erik was different. Erik thought he was the good guy. He grew up in a deeply unfair world, and it made him angry enough to want to change it. Shift some of his actions (maybe a little less cold-blooded murder) and Erik becomes the hero of this tale. The world IS unfair, and it needs to change. Sure, he wanted to use Wakandan technology to kill a BUNCH of innocent people, but his motivations were still relatable as heck.
I think that’s a large part of what made this movie so wildly successful. For a story based on an almost magical secret society… it was one of the least ridiculous MCU plots. Also, the representation of it all. Also also, it was exciting and funny and just plain awesome.
So yeah, I liked this movie a lot, and so did a whole whack of people around the world, making it the highest grossing Marvel movie to date.
What did YOU think?
- The sibling relationship between T’Challa and Shuri is the true heart of the movie.
- Do you think T’Challa got to choose who he saw in Vision Land the first time he went in? Like, “hmmm, I don’t have an emotional connection with any dead relatives right now. Can I chill with Prince?”
- “Great, another white boy for us to fix.” Shuri is never allowed to die.
- Does the destruction of the power-herb mean that the power of the Black Panther dies with T’Challa?
- Every mark on Erik’s body is for a kill, right? The number of people he’s killed sure does align well! Do you think he was like, “oh damn, my marks are uneven… hmmmm, better kill three more people for the aesthetics.”
- Everett Ross and Shuri are the very best of friends, and it makes my heart sing.
- “Hey Auntie.”
- Look, I can only suspend my disbelief so far, so when a movie tries to tell me that that those boys were drinking the magic flower juice while LYING DOWN without coughing or choking… ppppppfffffffftttt nuh-uh. NUH. UH.
- Someone asked me who my ultimate MCU crush is, and I said, without hesitation, M’Baku. You know I can’t resist that sass!!
- Do we think Andy Serkis will pop up in the MCU again as CGI?
- Bechdel Test: HECK YES, this movie passes so damn hard (😍)
[Also, I forgot to do the test for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (pass!), Spiderman Homecoming (debatable fail), and Ragnarok (another debatable fail)]
- What’s YOUR favourite ice cream flavour? And if you say Tiger, what happened to you to make you this way?