Movies with Isaiah: 'Black Panther' is inspiring, powerful


Audience members that had a significant interest in Marvel comics and its cinematic universe began to wonder in 2018 if Marvel could continue its success. Several factors played a part with them exploring more of the lesser-known heroes compared to Iron Man, Thor, Captain America or even the ensemble Avengers films.

In 2016, fans were introduced to the character T'Challa, also known as the Black Panther. He made his first live-action appearance in "Captain America: Civil War." I can remember the brief moments of seeing him in the teaser and full trailers sparking massive fan excitement and curiosity. Witnessing the character offering a new perspective onto the continuing expanding world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it became apparent that not only was there an audience for the character, at the same time, striking while the iron was at a fever pitch became even more important.

No one could've predicted the massive storm of success that would follow during the opening premiere of 2018's "Black Panther." The film itself attracted individuals from all walks of life. It didn't matter what race, religion, gender, social,or other preferences the viewing audience had. "Black Panther" brought men, women, teenagers, children and families into an anomaly that exceeded box office expectations.

Starring the late Chad Boseman as the titular character and Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong'o, Michael B. Jordan, Forrest Whitaker, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, and Andy Serkis, it offers unique casting by introducing characters vastly different from those who appeared in previous Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Previous Marvel outings presented more of an explosive and exciting spectacle by introducing more cosmic elements into the fold. "Black Panther" brought more of a stripped-down, grounded approach while also shining a light on the cultures of Africa. Interestingly enough, this film's success had a lot to do with presenting the continent in a more favorable, innovative and intelligent light that hadn't been witnessed before. What I appreciated about this depiction is how the concept of Wakanda not only made me want to visit Africa, but I also inquisitively found myself wondering if such an isolated, technologically advanced world of this magnitude possibly exists.

The story explores T'Challa's role in becoming the King of Wakanda, questioning if he's worthy of the crown and should Wakanda reveal itself to the world. A mysterious figure named Erik Killmonger enters into the picture to challenge him for the throne and using Wakanda's technology for nefarious purposes. Chadwick Boseman's performance of T'Challa/Black Panther is an interesting, powerful and emotional role of remembrance considering how he dedicated himself to the character while battling colon cancer. Despite my minor grievances with how he was depicted in "Civil War" in comparison with this film, I simply cannot state enough how much he brought the character to life while battling a disease that eventually claimed his life. I was hoping more of his mysterious, intimidating and simmering rage would carry over from "Civil War" into this story. As I said, that complaint is trivial compared to anything else in this presentation.

Jordan's performance as Erik Killmonger was a fascinating depiction as the villainous idealist seeking retribution and using these methods relying on his drive, intellect and anger in accomplishing these violent, terrifying goals. The entire cast of this monumental spectacle brings its elite game in capturing the mindsets and the emotionality required into allowing the characters to appear realistic, likable and memorable. However, Boseman's and Jordan's performances completely carry the story into uncharted territory. One of my favorite moments of the film is witnessing the introduction of Wakanda on the big screen. Director Ryan Coogler did a marvelous job and served in building up to the moment, creating wonderment into what would a technologically advanced isolated society look like?

Fusing elements of tribal African music with an orchestral cinematic score, it's important to note that Coogler and film composer Ludwig Goransson created an introductory moment that is forever immortalized within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I can remember sitting in the auditorium in complete awe once the beauty, majesty and complexity of Wakanda appeared on the big screen. Moments like this are why it's essential for movie theaters to continue existing, as there's a certain magic embedded that cannot be appreciated in a smaller venue.

"Black Panther" successfully incorporates elements of history, past to current social issues of politics, and presents them in a manner that doesn't come off as preachy or overly hypocritical. I appreciated how they focused more on Wakanda needing to reveal itself to the world and use its resources in improving the infrastructure involving all civilization.

The film features state-of-the-art innovative effects, powerful realistic performances, majestic visuals and a story that builds into the Infinity Saga that was part of the first major Marvel Cinematic Universe exploration of facing their first threat in Thanos. I will say this film provided a strong sense of inspiration for all who attended the viewing. It was one of those moments when I can remember the feature selling out for weeks after its release. I highly recommend this significant, inspiring, emotional and powerful journey in remembrance of Boseman, as well as in preparation for its sequel, "Wakanda Forever," which premiered Thursday night. "Black Panther is 10/10 and two thumbs up in my opinion. Be on the lookout for my review of "Wakanda Forever" next week.

Isaiah Ridley works at Beacon Cinemas in Sumter. To watch his movie reviews online, find him @Izzy's Cinematic Escape on YouTube.