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Black Panther

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Black Panther Movie Poster Image
Masterful Marvel film has depth, diversity -- and violence.
  • PG-13
  • 2018
  • 134 minutes
 Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 129 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 179 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Promotes teamwork, communication, loyalty, integrity, courage, and friendship. Highlights the abilities of women and people of color in leading roles. Explores the necessity of global compassion and outreach and the idea that, as human beings, more unites us than separates us. Duty, ritual, justice, and tradition are very important to the Wakandans. An important theme of the movie is learning that those who may seem perfect usually aren't; we all have flaws and secrets. But we also aren't responsible for the choices of those who came before us.

Positive Role Models & Representations

T'Challa is a born leader who's thoughtful, patient, and compassionate. The movie portrays women -- particularly T'Challa's inner circle of Okoye, Nakia, and Shuri -- as strong, smart, capable, and courageous. Shuri is an inventive tech genius. Even the main villain is complicated and thought-provoking. Positive representation of Marvel's first black superhero; diverse ensemble cast. A highly respected character is revealed to have made some pretty big mistakes in the past.

Violence

More close-up fights than in previous Marvel films, with more explosive, widespread violence. One-on-one ritual battles are intense (with bloody wounds, stabbings, etc.), full of moments when it seems like a character is going to die. A couple of deaths (both real and presumed) are particularly emotional. Weapons used in full-scale battle scenes include spears, curved knives, armored war animals. Super-powered guns/cannons that have the power to obliterate vehicles in one shot. Bad guys shoot bystanders and enemies, sometimes in cold blood. A long, explosive car chase causing lots of destruction. Dead bodies shown. Flashback to T'Challa's father's death. Brief footage from 1992 LA riots on TV. Black Panther rescues women from armed Nigerian soldiers.

Sex

A couple of kisses and some flirting. One couple calls each other "my love" in a flirtatious/charged manner. Klaue smuggles a sensitive package in the crotch area of his pants.

Language

Infrequent use of "s--t," "ass," and "hell"; one character makes a middle-finger gesture. A couple of Wakandan characters use the historically accurate word "colonizer" as a derisive/dismissive way of referring to white people/those in power. On the flip side, characters use the word "savage" a couple of times as an insult to the Wakandans.

Consumerism

On camera: Toyota Land Cruiser, a top-of-the-line Lexus (which has been heavily featured in commercials), BBC News. Off camera: Marvel-branded merchandise is everywhere, including video games, apparel, action figures, and other products associated with all the characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult extras drink in the background of a casino scene; a more central character orders a whiskey. A fictional heart-shaped herb is used for medicinal, mystical purposes in a sacred ritual.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Black Panther is the first film in the Marvel cinematic universe to center on a superhero of color: African prince-turned-king T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), aka the Black Panther. As in all superhero movies, there's plenty of violence -- in this case, mostly brutal hand-to-hand combat that gets quite intense, with bloody injuries and even deaths. Although there are a few shoot-outs with super-powered guns/cannons (as well as some cold-blooded killings), the majority of the action features spear and blade fighting. That said, some confrontations do include larger, explosive battles and very destructive car chases. Language and sexual content are pretty minimal: a few uses of "s--t" and "hell" and a couple of quick kisses. Set mostly in the fictional African nation of Wakanda, the movie features not only the first mostly black ensemble cast in superhero-film history (Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Danai Gurira, and Daniel Kaluuya co-star), but also an all-female royal guard and a brilliant female inventor/engineer. Families who see Black Panther will have plenty to talk about afterward, from its portrayal of race and gender to the overall importance of having black superheroes as main characters, rather than sidekicks.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBanla February 13, 2018

Fine for a quite a mature 12

This film is absolutely one of marvels best movies, but that does not mean that it is a child friendly film . This film has things ranging from violent stabbing... Continue reading
Parent of a 7 and 8 year old Written byMaggieSawyer February 17, 2018

Positive messages, superhero violence.

Black Panther is a film beyond the average superhero movie. There's an interesting and well plotted story with themes of family loyalty and community respo... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byelijah batz February 15, 2018

Fun and colorful. This is what I want from Marvel movies and this film is nearly perfect.

I don't really have many things to say that hasn't been already said about this film by critics. I like how it took the doctor strange approach and di... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byKtucker013 February 21, 2018

What's the story?

After a folktale-like prologue that recounts the history of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, BLACK PANTHER opens with a flashback to 1992, when a younger T'Chaka (Atandwa Kani) makes a surprise visit to Oakland, California, to confront a rogue Wakandan spy. Back in the present, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is preparing for his coronation day, which includes a potential challenge -- through ritual combat -- from any of Wakanda's five tribes, as well as a sacred ceremony in which he officially becomes the nation's Black Panther. After T'Challa takes the throne, intelligence surfaces that notorious arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) has stolen a vibranium artifact from the British Museum. T'Challa takes his top warrior -- head of the royal guard General Okoye (Danai Gurira) -- and his former love, Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), a Wakandan spy, to attempt to capture Klaue (one of the few outsiders who knows the truth about how much vibranium -- the most valuable metal on Earth -- is available in Wakanda). But CIA operative Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and Klaue's mysterious young ally (Michael B. Jordan) complicate the mission. It turns out that the mystery man is a former SEAL who has a very personal score to settle with T'Challa and the Wakandans.

Is it any good?

Ryan Coogler's masterful superhero drama is unlike any other, featuring outstanding acting, breathtaking art direction, fascinating royal intrigue, memorable action sequences, and surprising depth. It's that depth -- of character, of storyline, of relevancy -- that makes Black Panther shine, as Boseman's T'Challa takes the mantle of king with enormous uncertainty about whether to share Wakanda's resources with the world. With the exception of his second-in-command W'Kabi (Kaluuya), T'Challa surrounds himself with an inner circle of influential women: Okoye, Nakia, his mother (Bassett), and his genius younger sister, scientist/tech inventor Shuri (Letitia Wright). Each of them contributes much to the story, with Gurira's spear-wielding Okoye the movie's clear scene-stealer, Wright the clever comic relief, and Nyong'o offering a wee bit of romance. Even the central villain, as played by frequent Coogler collaborator Jordan, is well-rounded and humanized, with the actor doing great work opposite the equally nuanced Boseman.

There's so much to appreciate in Black Panther, from its pulsing score, which features a soundtrack overseen by award-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar, to the mesmerizing cinematography courtesy of DP Rachel Morrison, gorgeous tribal costumes, and vibrant production design. There's not as much laugh-aloud banter as viewers may have come to expect from Marvel movies, but the beats of humor that are here, usually thanks to plucky Shuri or mountain-tribe leader M'Baku (Winston Duke), are extra funny. Ultimately the film's success comes down to the thoughtful, compelling storytelling from director Coogler and writer Joe Robert Cole, as interpreted by a terrific cast of actors. This isn't just another highly entertaining but formulaic superhero story; it's also poignant and powerful and earns its place toward the top of Marvel's films. (Be sure to watch all the way through the credits for a couple of extra tidbits!)

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the role models in Black Panther. Who are they, and what character strengths do they exhibit? How does T'Challa demonstrate courage, integrity, and even teamwork?

  • Why is it important for superheroes to be diverse? How is Black Panther an example of both racial and gender diversity compared to other superhero films?

  • How does the movie explore issues related to race? Why is Erik's perspective on the world so different from T'Challa's? Is one right and the other wrong? Why or why not? Why does representation matter in movies, TV, and books?

  • How are the Dora Milaje (T'Challa's all-female combat fighting force) unique in the Marvel Universe? What did you think of the way the movie portrays women in usually "male" roles -- e.g., tech expert, warrior general, spy? What message does that convey to viewers?

  • What is the movie's message about global responsibility? Do you agree with the view that the Black Panther should keep Wakanda safe at all costs, or with the idea that Wakanda should help less-stable, less-advanced nations and communities by sharing resources?

Movie details

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