Marvel’s first black superhero (if you don’t count Blade) has come to 4K with Black Panther, thanks to Disney, and with just a few weeks until Avengers: Infinity War hits home media, we’re willing to bet that some are starting up their yearly (or bi-yearly at this point) great Marvel catchup. Is this one worth the 4K upgrade? Let’s take a look.
Following the big success of his first two films, Fruitvale Station and Creed, Ryan Coogler was given the opportunity to direct Black Panther, a long-awaited first feature-length film for the titular character, who has been in and out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a little bit now.
While it was no surprise that a Black Panther movie was imminent, it was a bit surprising at just how big of a phenomenon this film, and the character, quickly came to be. Not only did it come out at a time when race is a hot topic in the nation (which could probably be said at any point in recent history, to be honest), but it also came at a time when the internet and world as a whole were desperately wanting a powerful black icon. And they definitely got it. Black Panther has grossed over a billion dollars in the box office and was dominating the charts week in and week out. The internet was abuzz over who this movie was and was not made for (spoiler, it is made for everyone), and the people spoke out and decidedly said that they want more black heroes.
As you will recall, the King of Wakanda was killed in a terrorist attack in Captain America: Civil War, leading the path for T’Challa to take on the crown and lead his people. This was something that he was born to do and was mostly happy with doing so in the privacy of their veiled oasis of technology, driven by their immense wealth of vibranium. However, when a previously unknown heir to the thrown appears and takes over, everything – including the fate of Wakanda itself – is put at risk.
While it is easy to boil this movie down into a typical Marvel formulaic story where the hero meets a villain, gets put down a peg and then must overcome their struggle to beat the foe and win the day, Black Panther is quite a bit more than that. At its heart, it tackles a very important theme that is subtly hidden just beneath the surface.
Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, is an orphaned black man who grew up in a crime-infested slum in the United States. He would have lived a life of privilege and power, had the King of Wakanda not taken that away from him. His rise to power comes at an alarming rate, and he is one scary villain. However, what is most important about his character is the stark contrast that he provides to T’Challa. These two men display the highs and lows of society. One grew up with wealth and parenting, while the other struggled his way through life, grasping at opportunities that he created for himself.
This face-off is one of the more meaningful and profound matchups that Marvel has brought to the screen so far, and I applaud them for portraying this relationship. But that isn’t the only big step for Marvel in Black Panther.
The women kick ass.
While Black Panther is a powerful hero who can do a lot of cool superhero stuff, it is actually the women around him who do a lot of the heavy lifting. His sister is a brilliant scientist who invents all sorts of sweet tech and consistently provides great insights, and Okoye is a fierce warrior who I would love to see square off against more baddies in the future.
This movie may not push the Marvel Cinematic Universe forward as much as other entries, but it sure as hell brings it into the spotlight as a beacon of equality, even if it is just one step forward. It is nice to see regardless.
There is one last note I should put here, and that is that there are some aspects to this movie that can take you out of the experience. First, every single person in this film is cosmetically perfect. Everyone has immaculate hair stylings and is super well put together. This might just be Wakandan culture, but it felt like every single person just came out of the barbershop. Secondly, Nakia developed the weapons that she tries to use against a suit that she designed. She knows damn well that they aren’t going to do a thing against the suit, so why fight?
Sorry, these are super minor gripes but they really stuck with me. I bet most people will never notice these or care.
While shot in 3.4K, this 4K transfer is quite good. It has a noticeably brighter and wider color palette when compared to the Blu-ray release, especially in darker scenes. However, there is not a substantial difference in the clarity between the two. The biggest differences will be colors here.
The audio is another department completely. Disney has been criticized for mixing their tracks poorly lately, and this is no exception. The volume is just not right, and unfortunately, it affects both the Blu-ray and UHD releases of the film. Casual listeners will likely not notice or be vexed by this, though. The Dolby Atmos track is really exciting to listen to when you disregard volume issues. This movie is just as exciting as most of the other Marvel films and has a lot of action scenes that will use all of the space that Atmos or 7.1 have at their disposal.
All of the special features are on the included Blu-ray disc, with no 4K exclusives.
- Crowning of a New King – a look at Black Panther’s previous appearances in the MCU
- The Hidden Kingdom Revealed – a featurette showing more about Wakanda
- The Warriors Within – a look at the fierce women of Wakanda
- Wakanda Revealed: Exploring the Technology – a look at vibranium and the uses Wakanda has for it.
- Gag Reel
- Deleted Scenes
- From Page to Screen: A Roundtable Discussion
- Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years – Connecting the Universe
- Exclusive Sneak Peek at Ant-Man and the Wasp
- Audio Commentary with Director Ryan Coogler and Production Designer Hannah Beachler
- Director Ryan Coogler Intro
Black Panther 4K UHD Final Thoughts:
Black Panther is one of the highest grossing Marvel movies for a reason. It is an interesting and thought-provoking dive into the newest hero in the MCU that kicks ass and has a strong African influence. Fans of the MCU will definitely want to pick this up for their collections, and I can say that the 4K release is a good looking set. It’s available both on 4K UHD and Blu-ray.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgment or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.