WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Black Panther, which is in theaters nationwide.
Marvel Studios’ latest superhero blockbuster Black Panther roared its way into theaters on February 16, firmly cementing its place among the very best cinematic achievements in the MCU’s 10-year history. Naturally, a film of this caliber is fully loaded with incredible moments, and we here at Epicstream have compiled a list of what we think are the absolute best of the bunch.
Here are the 10 best moments from Black Panther:
The History of Wakanda
As the film kicks off, we get a brief history lesson, narrated by the late King T’Chaka, in which Wakanda’s place within the MCU is firmly established on-screen. Taking obvious cues from the comics, we learn that a meteorite made of vibranium crash-landed in Africa centuries ago. Upon discovering it, five tribes go to war over the precious metal, but unbeknownst to them, the foreign substance drastically alters the area’s vegetation, thus spawning the iconic heart-shaped herb. After a warrior ingests it, he’s imbued with powers, becoming the first Black Panther and uniting the five tribes to form the nation of Wakanda.Advertisement
Jumping back to the present day, we meet up with T’Challa and Okoye, who’re preparing to extract the former’s ex-flame Nakia from a dangerous covert assignment. Here, we get our first look at not just Wakanda’s hyper-advanced technology but also Black Panther and Okoye in action, as the pair makes quick work of a gang of human traffickers. While it’s true we’ve already seen T’Challa’s fighting prowess on display in Captain America: Civil War, nothing compares to seeing it unfold on his own turf.
The manner in which a villain is introduced in a superhero movie – or any movie, for that matter – is truly a make-or-break moment, as it sets the tone for how the character will be received. With Killmonger, we’re immediately presented with an antagonist who’s cold, calculating, but also highly intelligent, which is something the museum staff clearly underestimates. Admittedly, Andy Serkis’ reintroduction as Ulysses Klaue is entertaining in its own right, but more so as comedic relief, as opposed to a legitimate physical and intellectual equal to T’Challa.
T’Challa Bests M’Baku
Before he can sit upon the throne of Wakanda, T’Challa must complete his coronation ceremony, which consists of presenting each of the five tribes with the opportunity to contend T’Challa’s reign. To do so, they must offer up a champion to compete against T’Challa in ritualistic combat, and while the four major tribes waive this right, the reclusive Jabari tribe puts forth its greatest warrior – it’s leader, M’Baku. Stripped of the heart-shaped herb’s powers, T’Challa is forced to battle the much bigger M’Baku in a beautifully choreographed fight sequence that unfolds on the top of a pristine waterfall backdrop. It’s positively stunning, visceral imagery, unlike anything we’ve seen in a Marvel Studios film to date.
Big Trouble in Little South Korea
Upon learning that the elusive Klaue will be in South Korea to take part in an illegal sale of vibranium, T’Challa makes it a point to confront the longtime enemy of Wakanda himself, albeit with Okoye and Nakia by his side and Shuri in his ear. Here, we once again get to see Wakanda’s mouthwatering tech on display, and as such, Shuri is given an incredible moment to shine, despite only assisting remotely. The entire scene is easily one of Black Panther’s most brilliant action set pieces, and it’s made all the more enjoyable by the fact that every single player is used to their full potential.
All Hail King Killmonger
When we return to the gorgeous waterfall setting, it’s under far graver circumstances, as Killmonger has arrived in Wakanda to attempt to claim what’s technically his birthright, as well as T’Challa’s – the throne of Wakanda. Both beautifully tragic and tragically beautiful, we witness the death of Zuri, and then watch as Killmonger physically manhandles T’Challa as his family looks on in sheer horror. And while the dramatic effect of Black Panther being thrown over the waterfall may have been undermined by the fact that we know he’ll be in Avengers: Infinity War, it’s still easy to get caught up in the moment.
Killmonger’s Journey to the Ancestral Plane
Another element that’s crucial in terms of creating a compelling villain is the sympathy factor; you need to give the audience a reason to care about them. In the case of Killmonger, we’d already learned he was left alone as a child after his father was killed, but seeing him visit N’Jobu in the ancestral plane is what really hammers things home. It’s easy to see how Erik’s worldviews were skewed to the side of extremism at such a young age, and therefore easier to see why his otherwise altruistic mission to combat oppression ends up becoming the epitome of the old saying, “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”
The Final Encounter(s)
The climax of the film is shaped by two incredible battles: one between Black Panther and Killmonger and another between Black Panther/Shuri/the Dora Milaje/the Jabari and Wakanda’s Killmonger loyalists. Both are immensely striking sequences, jam-packed with action, emotion, and stakes that feel every bit as real as you’d want from a third-act melee (an area where many superhero movies tend to fall apart). Huge credit to the stunt coordinators, fight choreographers, and visual effects artists who helped bring this entire sequence to life.
Wakanda Forever, Wakanda for Everyone
The Wakanda we’re introduced to in Black Panther is very much in line with the version we’ve known for most of its comic book history: an isolationist nation. However, T’Challa clearly learns from his father’s mistakes, and rather than risking creating another Killmonger, he decides to share Wakanda’s immense resources and next-level technology in an effort to help better the world. It’s essentially the non-extremist answer to the problem Killmonger was trying to solve, and that T’Challa is able to recognize the necessity for this speaks volumes about his character.
The Winter Stinger
If nothing else, Marvel Studios films are known for tacking on two or more post-credits stingers, and Black Panther is no different. The first one ties in with the previous entry, along with the final scene of the movie proper, but the second is arguably the one that moviegoers will be talking about. When we last saw Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier, he was being left in the care of T’Challa until the traumatic effects of his constant brainwashing could be dealt with. When we see him emerge from a small tent and meet with Shuri, it becomes clear that his treatment is going as well as we could have hoped. He feels like himself again, despite his ethnic attire, and the sequence serves as a perfect launching pad to his eventual return to form in Avengers: Infinity War.
What about you? What was your favorite moment in Black Panther? Let us know in the comments section!