In Black Panther, director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed) has crafted a nearly perfect solo film for the eponymous African Superhero. The film has all of the visual appeal, action, and expert world-building that we have come to expect from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). In addition, Coogler instills the film with superlatives that are rarely attached to the MCU: a noteworthy and complex villain, a rich political subtext, and a truly thematic conflict. It is likely too early to crown Black Panther as the greatest anything, but it is folly to ignore the power behind such an exemplary film.
As the thirteenth entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and first of Phase Three, Captain America: Civil War is full of crowd-pleasing moments, but it fails to deliver on these on a thematic level. Its neutered narrative pulls more punches than its heroes, the villain is more unnecessary and forgettable than the average Marvel fare, and a potentially powerful story line is treated with all the nuance of a Political Science 101 class. As a comic book action film, it certainly manages to entertain, but it falls far short of any aspirations to be something more than the latest summer popcorn flick.