Black Panther reviews hail 'best Marvel movie yet'

The final coda is as direct an address to the xenophobia at home in our current administration as that which you'll find in any film this year, let alone a giant Marvel movie.

The first reviews for Black Panther have arrived and the critics love the new superhero movie. What would this film have been like if its action scenes had been cut cleanly and clearly, instead of chopped into the usual wasteful, visually confusing slice-and-dice mashup? And if you haven't purchased your tickets by now, chances are you're going to have to wait a while.

While conventional wisdom would expect some form of world-threatening destruction in a superhero film, Black Panther wisely eschews the trappings of tropes for a deeper pondering unlike anything yet seen in this genre.

The big budget film from Walt Disney Pictures and Marvel Studios has an nearly entirely black cast led by Chadwick Boseman and is directed by acclaimed African American director Ryan Coogler. Carter's costumes make the movie. Though Boseman's pivots from dignity to delight on a dime, the screenplay (by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole) has trouble finding ways to emotionally engage with the character, all the way through an action climax whose humanity is outweighed by its CGI.

We already know Black Panther will be back in the imminent Avengers: Infinity War, but here we dig into the origin stories of both the character and his country. The movie is smart, lavish and fun without being assaultive.

The director Ryan Coogler (Creed) and a charismatic cast led by Chadwick Boseman (as Black Panther) and Lupita Nyong'o (as secret agent Nakia) turn racial clichés on their head and drag in some heavy Shakespearean conflict to create a vivid yarn that's entirely new, frequently startling and, at every step along the way, all Marvel. T'Challa is surrounded by friends, family, and rivals, each so charming and entertaining they're constantly stealing scenes from each other. He isn't afraid to listen to advice and is surrounded by powerful women who help him throughout the film. For now, at least.

Michael B. Jordan appears on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in Burbank, Calif. I was in it, put the mask on.

Black Panther repeatedly flexes its impressive technical muscles. The mask, with its narrow eye slits, facilitates some great staredowns. "We tried to make the best film we could, the most honest film we could and go from there", said Coogler at the premier. Everything about it is wrapped up in the complex experience of blackness in America.

Perhaps the best summation of the potential of Black Panther can be comes from GQ's Olive Pometsey. "I feel like I never had that many actors to look at and inspire me growing up". Gurira has earned a reputation as a badass from her work as the sword-swinging Michonne on The Walking Dead, but she is given more spotlight in Black Panther, and my, she is a sight to behold - particularly during the film's second-act Casino set-piece. Still, there's no shaking the feeling that this is what America looks like when it's allowed to be its truest, freest self.

  • Gwendolyn Kim