You can relax... Black Panther is cool.
Iron Man tries too hard and Captain America is far too earnest to be cool but Black Panther, both Chadwick Boseman's portrayal of the character and the film that surrounds him, is just effortlessly cool.
Taking place almost immediately after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther finds T'Challa returning to his native Wakanda to be crowned King after his father's death. Almost immediately you are struck by the depth and colour of the world Ryan Coogler has constructed, which is rivalled only by the depth felt in the relationships between T'Challa and the ensemble around him. There are simply no small parts in Black Panther, with every character feeling fully realised from T'Challa's banter with his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) and mother (Angela Basset) to ex-girlfriend and master spy Nakia (Nyong'o) to Wakanda's tribal council, these characters all know each other inside out and you can feel it. The inclusion of Get Out's Daniel Kaluuya may seem like the addition of a "hot" actor in a minor role but both he and Winston Duke's M'Baku of the Jabari tribe fulfil important yet natural roles in the story.
As for that story, probably more than any previous Marvel Cinematic Universe outing, it concerns itself not with inner demons of its lead but more with external threats to the king and Wakanda, as T'Challa finds out just how hard it is for a good man to be king. The biggest of those threats coming in the form of Ulysses Klaue (a delightfully deranged Andy Serkis) and the lithe, dangerous Erik Killmonger. Michael B. Jordan may be physically incapable of giving a bad performance at this stage but in Killmonger he may have created one of the best and yet most grounded MCU villains in a long time. His aims are strikingly simple and yet incredibly relevant; use Wakanda's advanced technology to free oppressed people “who look like him” all over the world. It's one even T'Challa has trouble arguing with.
Marvel Studios isn't likely to suddenly forget how to make good movies, however, some of the action scenes don't quite live up to the standard set by say Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Almost anything featuring Danai Gurira's General Okoye and the Dora Milaje (The king’s guard), however, is absolutely amazing, probably because their costumes restrict the ability to replace them with CGI. This causes some problems in the third act as it descends, for a time, into a CGI slugfest but these are minor quibbles.
This writer might possibly be the least qualified person on the planet to speak to the authenticity of Marvel's Wakanda, a technologically advanced African country, undisturbed by colonisation or the mix of Wakandan beats, contemporary tracks and a more traditional score by Ludwig Göransson and Kendrick Lamar, but it all works. Boy, does it ever work and all with very few references to the rest of the MCU or the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War. Even the two post credit scenes barely tie into Marvel's ongoing saga, but after the adventure you've just experienced, you'd barely care.
BLACK PANTHER / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: RYAN COOGLER / SCREENPLAY: RYAN COOGLER, JOE ROBERT COLE / STARRING: CHADWICK BOSEMAN, MICHAEL B. JORDAN, LUPITA NYONG’O, DANAI GURIA, MARTIN FREEMAN, DANIEL KALUUYA / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 13THExpected Rating: 8 out of 10