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THIS BLACK PANTHER HYPE!!

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THIS BLACK PANTHER HYPE!!

For months, there has been speculation and anticipation over “Black Panther,” director Ryan Coogler’s epic interpretation of the Marvel Comic by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, about a Black super hero.

Now that the film is finally in theaters, I’m happy to report that it has absolutely lived up to the hype.

Known for his outstanding portrayals of historical figures such as Jackie Robinson (“42”), James Brown (“Get On Up”) and Thurgood Marshall (“Marshall”), Chadwick Boseman played the dual role of T’Challa and Black Panther in “Captain America: Civil War,” which was released in 2016.

I was looking forward to seeing him fully develop a character that was not the subject of a biopic.

In “Black Panther,” written by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, T’Challa, upon the death of his father, the king of Wakanda, must return home to the isolated, technologically superior nation to take his place on the throne.

Wakanda is rich in resources, particularly a super element called Vibranium, and it soon becomes painfully evident that certain individuals will do anything to get their hands on some of the precious metal — if not all of it. In addition, there are those within Wakanda whom aggressively challenge T’Challa’s right to the throne.

While we do see some Black Panther-style heroics in this installment, much of the complex, multi-layered screenplay is devoted to the exposition — setting up the story of Black Panther and how he and his powers came to be.

However, there is plenty of explosive action, and Coogler and Cole make liberal use of subtle and unexpected humor.

Boseman brings his usual swagger to the role of T’Challa, but this time it’s tinged with a palpable vulnerability as he strives to be the king that his father was — or so he thought. This was most evident in scenes with the beautiful, fearless Nakia, (Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o) and his smart, savvy sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) — two strong women who clearly have T’Challa’s back.

As the deadly Erik Killmonger, this was an interesting creative turn for Michael B. Jordan (“Creed,” “Fruitvale Station”), who is usually cast in heroic roles, or as a clean-cut, All-American guy. As a vile villain with vengeance on his mind, Jordan also manages to evoke sympathy.

The audience, largely African American at my particular screening, immediately connected with the characters in “Black Panther,” partially due to the casting of many beloved veteran and rising stars including Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis, Sterling K. Brown and Daniel Kaluuya. All are dynamic partially because of the engrossing screenplay and the captivating performances across the board.

A visually spectacular story of secrets, lies and betrayal, but also one of love and loyalty, “Black Panther” is definitely worth the wait. (Rated: PG-13)

Warning: Do not leave during the credits. There is some bonus footage worth seeing, and could be crucial to what I suspect will be another installment.

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