Pre-Pub Review

Black Panther

Disney, 134 min., PG-13, DVD: $29.99, Blu-ray: $39.99, May 15

Reviewer rating: 4.0/4

A decade after Iron Man launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a powerful, new superhero has arrived—and he’s sensational! The warrior T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is the prince/protector of the fantastical African nation of Wakanda, an isolated, secretive kingdom that’s rich with vibranium (the mythic metal on Captain America’s shield). This invaluable resource has enabled incredible technological advances, including magnetic transfers, superconductors, and spaceships. Following his father’s death, noble T’Challa must fight M’Baku (Winston Duke), the leader of the rival Jabari tribe, to claim his heritage. There’s also a threat posed by predatory arms dealer/thief Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), who T’Challa intercepts in South Korea with the aid of a CIA operative (Martin Freeman). Eventually, the fight for vibranium has T’Challa opposing villainous Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan), a swaggering former Navy SEAL from Oakland, CA, whose father was Wakandan. And it turns out that T’Challa’s best friend W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) and his mentor, the spiritual leader Zuri (Forest Whitaker), are hiding secrets. Black Panther is full of formidable females, including T’Challa’s love interest, the beautiful spy Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o); his feisty little sister/gadgets guru, Shuri (Letitia Wright); Queen Mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett); and Okoye (Danai Gurira), leader of T’Challa’s security team. Directed by Ryan Coogler, the film’s complex plot delves into themes such as revenge vs. justice, duty vs. conscience, and why identity matters. The first African American superhero in American comics, Black Panther was created in 1966 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and his story has been continued in graphic novels by Ta-Nehisi Coates. An exciting, exhilarating, socially relevant film, this is highly recommended. Editor’s Choice. [Note: DVD/Blu-ray extras include audio commentary by director Ryan Coogler and production designer Hannah Beachler, the production featurettes “From Page to Screen: A Roundtable Discussion” (21 min.), “Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years—Connecting the Universe” (8 min.), “The Hidden Kingdom Revealed (7 min.), “Crowning of a New King” (6 min.), “The Warriors Within” (6 min.), and “Wakanda Revealed: Exploring the Technology” (6 min.), as well as deleted scenes (7 min.), a sneak peek at the upcoming feature film Ant-Man and the Wasp (3 min.), and a gag reel (2 min.). Exclusive to the Blu-ray release is a bonus digital copy of the film. Bottom line: a fine extras package for an excellent superhero film.] (S. Granger)