February 21, 2018

Black Panther: Chadwick Boseman Portrays an African King Who Is a Superhero

By Kam Williams 

Chadwick Boseman has made a successful career by portraying a variety of prominent African Americans, such as football star Floyd Little (The Express), baseball great Jackie Robinson (42), Godfather of Soul James Brown (Get on Up), and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (Marshall). The versatile actor’s efforts have been recognized by the NAACP, which has nominated him for five Image Awards.

Although Black Panther is a fictional character, the role is no less significant than the historical figures Chadwick has played in the past. That’s because black kids have rarely had a superhero that looks like them to root for, even in Africa, where the Lord of the Jungle, Tarzan, was white.

Consequently, ticket sales for this Afrocentric movie have been through the roof, and I’m happy to report that audiences will not be disappointed. The film not only features a dignified protagonist and a socially-relevant plotline, but it’s also a worthy addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe series.

The picture was directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed) with visually captivating special effects and an A-list cast that includes Academy Award-winners Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) and Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), Oscar nominee Angela Bassett (What’s Love Got to Do With It), Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, and Sterling K. Brown.

At the point of departure, we learn that in ancient times the five tribes of Africa went to war over vibranium, a material in a meteorite that imbues its holder with superhuman powers. Fast forward to the present where T’Challa (Boseman) is being summoned home to the fictional nation of Wakanda in order to assume the reins of power after his father, King T’Chaka (John Kani) has died.

However, a number of other warriors covet the throne and a South African arms smuggler (Andy Serkis) is also trying to get some vibranium. Fortunately T’Challa has a CIA agent (Martin Freeman) and three loyal females on his side, namely his 16-year-old sister (Letitia Wright), his ex-girlfriend (Nyong’o), and a bodyguard (Danai Gurira).

What ensues is an edge-of-the-seat roller coaster ride that is as entertaining as any Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, or other superhero adventures.

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for pervasive violent action sequences and a rude gesture. Running time: 134 minutes. Production Studios: Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Pictures. Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.