There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Marvel’s latest superhero movie “Black Panther”, and now that I’ve finally seen it, I can genuinely say that the hype is truly justified. This is one of the finest superhero films I’ve ever seen: visually stunning, sharply-written, and directed with a keen eye for detail by Ryan Coogler. Indeed, it’s the story that sets this film apart from the rest of Marvel movies, in harmony with perfect casting and a true sense of discovery. Instead of hyping up the upcoming “Avengers: Infinity War”with endless easter eggs, the writers take their precious time developing their characters to give us rooting interest. And from the word go, we find ourselves rooting for our hero T’Challa (a terrific Chadwick Boseman), who, after the death of his father in “Civil War”, returns home to succeed to the throne. But is he worthy? Just when you know where this movie is going, Coogler pulls the rug out from under you with twists and turns you don’t see coming. And that’s the beauty of “Black Panther”, which clocks in at 135 minutes but never feels long or forced. As a standalone film, it’s a knockout. As a build-up to “Infinity War”, it will make your mouth water. Fear not, there’s a great villain in Michael B. Jordan, whose sly and cruel Erick Killmonger steals every scene he appears in. But perhaps best of all is the movie’s ability to dazzle us from start to finish. God knows we’ve seen too many superhero films this past decade. And yet, “Black Panther” feels fresh, and that’s no easy feat. By pointing the way to the future of Marvel films, it ranks up there with the very best of them.
Black Panther  ★★★½