Marvel's new entry in the MCU, Black Panther, is more than another stand alone superhero movie. We all have come to expect visually extravagant fight and chase scenes, bold locations both real and CGI, booming sound effects with sweeping cinematic scores, and witty discourse between players. Black Panther has all of those elements, but what sets it apart from the fray, is a deeply political undercurrent intertwined with strong and broken family ties and conflicting loyalties. King T'Challa, the protector of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, is played again by Chadwick Boseman in his second turn in the role after Captain America Civil War. In a break from convention, the male protagonist is overshadowed by his all-female cadre consisting of a warrior general played by Danai Gurira, a spy/love interest in the form of Lupita Nyong'o. Rounding out the trifecta is Latitia White playing King T'Challa's kid sister, a tech and weapons expert ala James Bond's Q. Chadwick's performance is serviceable as the new king, thrust into the role by the death of his father. To be fair, King T'Challa has some great scenes dealing with the sins of the father, while struggling to protect the secrecy and traditions of the world he loves.
This is a film in which protagonists and supporting cast are more fun to watch. Michael B. Jordan is Eric Kilmonger, a villain made more sympathetic by his truly heart wrenching backstory. As King T'Challa is thrust into the role, so is Eric Kilmonger, whose motivations, while nefarious, are understandable and it is hard to hate him. Anthony Serkis plays Klaw, who serves mostly as an springboard for Kilmonger's schemes. Winston Duke portrays the leader of a rival tribe who is as hilarious as he is intimidating, and dominates the too few scenes that he is in. The most amazing supporting character is the hidden city of Wakanda itself. Hidden by a cloaking shield and an impenetrable rain forest, Wakanda was built on a huge deposit of Vibranium (the strongest mineral that forms Captain America's Shield) Wakanda is a technological marvel akin to the city of Tomorrowland in the Disney film. The architecture draws both from ancient African temples and the modern skylines of Dubai. It is a place that I would like to visit again, and probably stay.