“Black Panther” separates itself from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

So far, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or the MCU, as it’s often called, has kept to a pretty simple formula. Build a world, slowly, teasing out new characters before giving them their own showcase. This week, Black Panther both continues that trend and breaks the mold in a big way. Unlike anything they’ve ever done before, this superhero flick stands out from the pack for all the right reasons. As Phase Three of the MCU begins to wrap up, the films are getting more and more interesting, suggesting a very bright future for Marvel, to say the least. Suffice to say, they’re not going anywhere.

The movie is the MCU’s latest outing, both a showcase for a character previously only seen in a supporting role, as well as the next step in building towards Avengers: Infinity War. This is the IMDb plot description, to set the stage: “After the events of Captain America: Civil War, King T’Challa returns home to the reclusive, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to serve as his country’s new leader. However, T’Challa soon finds that he is challenged for the throne from factions within his own country. When two foes conspire to destroy Wakanda, the hero known as Black Panther must team up with C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross and members of the Dora Milaje, Wakandan special forces, to prevent Wakanda from being dragged into a world war.” T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) may be continuing part of the MCU, but right at this moment, his solo outing is about to become a smash hit all on its own. Ryan Coogler co-writes with Joe Robert Cole and directs, while the A-list ensemble cast includes Angela Bassett, Sterling K. Brown, Winston Duke, Martin Freeman, Danai Gurira, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Forest Whitaker, Letitia Wright, and more. The score is by Ludwig Göransson, while the cinematography is by freshly minted Oscar nominee Rachel Morrison.

By and large, Black Panther is getting raves. The film has been called one of the best that the MCU has had to offer so far (and in a number of cases, their very best), proving that taking chances is beneficial for the moviemaking giant. Coogler was a perfect choice to helm, Jordan is being feted as the cream of the Marvel villain crop, and for the first time, Marvel is having a movie of theirs called important and even political. That’s some high praise for a comic book flick. The film seems poised to break out from the superhero genre and become a cultural movement. Black Panther has captured the zeitgeist, that’s for sure.

Marvel might even have an awards player here. To be fair, Black Panther is probably just a technical player for Disney and Marvel, but they certainly have the money for an across the board campaign. If so, look for them to launch efforts in Best Picture, Best Director (for Coogler), Best Actor (for Boseman), Best Supporting Actor (for Jordan), Best Supporting Actress (for Gurira, Nyong’o, and/or Wright), Best Adapted Screenplay (for Cole and Coogler), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, and Best Visual Effects. It’s impossible to know how it’ll do with the techs, but depending on how 2018 shakes out, there’s a very real possibility that this is a below the line player next time around with Oscar. We shall see what happens, but keep this in mind as the year progresses.

This weekend, audiences will get a chance to travel to Wakanda and experience Black Panther for themselves. Whether you’re a big MCU fan or just intrigued because of the uniqueness of this outing, it seems like the film is poised to unique moviegoing audiences in a way we rarely see this early in the year. Look for a record setting February box office opening weekend. Marvel has never had a failure, and their perfect score continues. If you’ve been a fan of the first two Coogler team ups with Jordan (although in a supporting role here), this is another success story. All hail Black Panther, the King of Wakanda…

Be sure to check out Black Panther, in theaters everywhere starting on Thursday night!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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