As soon as it was released, "Black Panther" exploded. It was the cultural rage in the United States, particularly among a community that felt underrepresented in Hollywood and on the screen since its very inception.

Before delving into a review of the Movie, it's important to identify myself in this particular instance. "Black Panther" has already marked a special significance within the black community, a significance I can appreciate, but will never be able to identify with. People can only view things through their lived experiences while developing an understanding and acceptance of others' experiences.

We'll try to accomplish that here.

About the movie

"Black Panther" is a superhero action movie, the 18th in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Directed by Ryan Coogler ("Fruitvale Station"), the film was released in the United States on February 16, 2018.

T'Challa ascends to the throne following the death of his father. Not all is well in the advanced African nation of Wakanda, though. Many are still seeking revenge on Klaue, the arms dealer responsible for many Wakandan deaths. The hunt for him brings an even greater and more personal threat to Wakanda. The Black Panther must step in or risk seeing his kingdom - and the world - fall.

'Black Panther' reigns

This movie is all about the creation of a new world.

That's true in both a physical and metaphysical sense. Wakanda is beautiful in every sense of the imagination (as a corny line reminds us of later). It carries the luscious greenery often tied to the African mainland but balances it with technological wonders on a grand scale. The diversified nature of the environment immediately makes "Black Panther" stand out.

The cast does too. Chadwick Boseman ("Marshall") is a solid choice to play the superhero, although we already knew that from "Captain America: Civil War." He's steady, strong, and charismatic. The good in him is clear, but he can also be commanding and show off some swagger. That can actually be said of most of the characters.

Perhaps the one exception was Lupita Nyong'o, who played love interest Nakia. At the beginning of the movie, her character is full of depth. Her motivation was to protect and save young Nigerian girls from enslavement. As the film went on, however, her love story with T'Challa took precedence over everything else, with her fading into the background in other scenes.

While her character was a slight disappointment, her female counterpart was not. Danai Gurira was thrilling as Okoye, head of Wakanda's all-female version of the Secret Service. Her power and her undaunted loyalty were marvelous attributes to behold. It was clear that she called many of the shots, at one point threatening her lover and forcing him to stand down.

Much praise, however, needs to be left for Michael B. Jordan. There was more nuance to his character than any other in the movie. In a lot of ways, Erik Killmonger represented both American greed and genuine liberation for black America. "Black Panther" wouldn't have become the sensation it has without him.

Misplaced movie characters

There were two groups that didn't work in "Black Panther" - the elders and the outsiders. Let's start with the elders. This was an opportunity for a young production to pay homage to two older black actors. Angela Bassett played the king's mother, but she didn't really get an opportunity to show off her acting chops. Meanwhile, Forest Whitaker played Zuri, a village elder.

For most of the film, he felt out of a place, almost as if he was a caricature built to represent the concept of a village elder, but failing to actually fit into the role.

Then, there were the two prominent roles given to white actors. Both Everett K. Ross and Klaw are holdovers from previous MCU films. Their inclusion in "Black Panther" made sense, story-wise. But their utilization here seems to be to make the movie more palatable for white audiences. Klaw's buffoonery - so obviously inspired by Conor McGregor, by the way - stole the spotlight for half of the film. Ross is more in the background but still plays a pivotal role in saving Wakanda. They both ultimately prove to be unnecessary mechanisms obscuring a larger picture.

Powerful messaging

More than anything, "Black Panther" works because of the powerful messages it supplies. Those messages run both parallel and counter to many of the messages put out by the mainstream media today. On the one hand, representation matters. There's proof in the movie that black stars are more than capable of generating blockbuster buzz (just look at those box office numbers) while playing the good guys and the main roles; that hasn't really occurred before.

But there's also the radical message that, frankly, isn't hiding anywhere. There are plenty of lines expressing rightful anger at European society for colonialism and unjustified racial dominance. Jordan's character, in particular, wants reparations and a chance to stand on the other side of history.

Without giving anything away, he never relents from that position - it's impossible for the audience not to feel sympathy for him.

At the end of the day, this isn't the same old Marvel film. There's plenty of action and humor. But there's geopolitical intrigue that dives deeper into our current world climate than any MCU movie has even dared. "Black Panther" gives audiences a new hero in a new environment, but one that needs to be explored. Hopefully, it's just the beginning of a more enlightened superhero universe.

Grade: A