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Movie Review: 'Black Panther'

Just four days into its release, Black Panther had grossed more than $426 million worldwide, and that’s before it’s even opened in China. Which means that other than maybe a Star Wars movie or two, this is basically the biggest opening for any movie ever. 

Even more significant is that Black Panther features an almost exclusively black cast, and leans very heavily into the African roots of its characters and their world. Conventional Hollywood wisdom doesn’t allow for this—it’s generally assumed, wrongly, that movies with black casts and that focus on the black experience don’t sell. This has already been proven not to be true, but Black Panther cannot possibly be ignored.

Judging by the box office, you’ve either already seen this movie or you plan to, so I won’t recount the plot here. I will say that if you’re someone who’s dismissing Black Panther because you’re just not into superhero movies, I’d advise you to reconsider. Of course, there are super powers and plenty of battle scenes, but the ideas presented in the movie are far more complex than you typically see, tackling themes of empathy, repression, imperialism, and empowerment, just to name a very few.

The world our characters inhabit, the fictional African country of Wakanda, is made of elements that are so deeply researched it’s frankly astonishing, and it’s an extraordinary visual achievement: This movie will be winning Oscars. And it was an incredibly welcome surprise to learn that many of the strongest characters in the movie are women. And then there’s our villain, Erik Killmonger, a man with such a complicated past and worldview that there’s currently a running argument about whether or not he’s actually a villain at all.

All this, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. There’s so much to celebrate about Black Panther. I sincerely hope people continue to throw wads of cash at it—the movie deserves everything it gets.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.