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Review: ‘Black Panther’ features super soundtrack, villian and world

One of Hollywood’s leading movie studios, Marvel Studios, saw the release of “Black Panther” Feb. 16. “Black Panther” is the latest release in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and it has left audiences and critics with many good things to say.

“Black Panther” is Marvel’s last film before “Avengers: Infinity War” is released in May, and, honestly, that movie has a lot to live up to. The bottom line is “Black Panther” is beyond great. The film itself, the music and the overall experience transport audiences from their seats into the world of Wakanda.

Black Panther is the latest character to get a solo film in the MCU. We first saw the character back in 2016 in “Captain America: Civil War” as T’Challa, prince of Wakanda, a fictional nation in Africa. After his father is killed in a bombing, T’Challa uses his alter ego, Black Panther, to hunt down the villain responsible. Teaming up with Iron Man and other heroes was a nice introduction to the character.

In addition, the post-credits scene with Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier, taking refuge in Wakanda with T’Challa left audiences guessing what is in store for this new character.

In “Black Panther,” T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, is dealing with his father’s death and is facing pressure to share Wakandan technology with the world. Wakanda is a country that has closed itself off from the outside world and doesn’t participate in international trade. It is also the only known source of the fictional metal, vibranium, a rare and nearly indestructible metal in the MCU.

Aside from those issues, the main problem T’Challa faces throughout the film is Erik Killmonger, the villain who stems from the initial hunt for Ulysses Klaue. The two were sought out for selling stolen vibranium. Klaue is played by Andy Serkis from “The Lord of the Rings” series. Just as he did with the character of Gollum, in “Black Panther” Serkis gives life and depth to someone who is greedy. No matter who Andy Serkis is playing he’s able to pull it off, and Klaue is no different.

Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, is arguably one of the best MCU villains to date. Many fans feel that with the exception of Loki, Marvel lacks in the villain department. Most of the studio’s villains are lacking in motive and their causes never seem believable. Killmonger is different in that he is relatable in some ways and some viewers may even side with him.

A write-up on this film wouldn’t be complete without mention of the supporting talent. T’Challa’s sister Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, was definitely another high point of the movie. Shuri is a master in Wakandan technology and creates all the tech that the Black Panther uses. Aside from having one of the best jokes in the movie, Shuri also brings a sense of coolness to the film like nobody else does.

The two other standout women in the movie are Okoye and Ramonda, played by Danai Gurira and Angela Bassett respectively. Okoye is a guard of the royal family and Ramonda is the Queen and mother of T’Challa.

Aside from being an amazing movie, “Black Panther” also boasts one of the best original soundtracks in recent memory. The entire soundtrack is curated by Kendrick Lamar and features many of the artists from his record label, Top Dawg Entertainment. Artists include SZA, Schoolboy Q, and even The Weekend. The best artist is ultimately one who sounds pretty familiar: El Paso’s very own Khalid. He is featured in a song named “The Ways.” Khalid, along with Kendrick Lamar and Swae Lee from Rae Sremmurd, delivers one of the best songs on the entire 14-track roller coaster of an album.

Even for those who aren’t into the Marvel movies, “Black Panther” is a very good stand-alone movie that doesn’t require a lot of prior knowledge. “Black Panther” is a nice journey to a place viewers have never been before and many are looking forward to what this new setting in the MCU has to offer in years to come.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to New Mexico State University, the NMSU Department of Journalism and Media Studies, Kokopelli, or any other organization, committee, group or individual. 

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