Black Panther is not only one of the more interesting and accomplished superhero movies ever made, it’s also the smartest and most socially-aware Marvel movie. Which is why it’s gratifying that the Black Panther Blu-ray has so many great extras, but also frustrating that it’s missing some key ones.
For those who didn’t see Black Panther in theaters, the movie picks ups after the events of Captain America: Civil War, and sets up some aspects of Avengers: Infinity War, by having T’Challa going through the ceremony to official take over as King of Wakanda. But when his father’s past comes back to haunt him in the form of a usurper, T’Challa must fight back with the help of his very capable friends…and no, I don’t mean Cap or Bucky.
You can read a deeper assessment of Black Panther here, but suffice it to say that while this movie is as exciting as Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Iron Man 3, it actually strikes a more thoughtful and serious tone by being driven by a smart and socially-conscious plot that deals with colonialism and racism. It also helps that it’s not an origin story like Doctor Strange or Ant-Man, but is instead more like Spider-Man: Homecoming in that it shows a superhero getting their footing.
As for the Black Panther Blu-ray, its extras begin with a running commentary by writer/director Ryan Coogler and production designer Hannah Beachler that’s informative, but would’ve been far better had some of the cast been involved, since they always add insight while keeping a commentary from being too technical. This is followed by four deleted scenes, all interesting, though only one would’ve added anything of consequence to the story, and none come with any indication of why they were cut.
Next, the Black Panther Blu-ray has four short making-of featurettes: “Crowning Of A New King,” look at how the character’s introduction in Captain America: Civil War led to what happens in this movie; “The Hidden Kingdom Revealed,” which explores Wakanda and how they brought it to life in this film; “The Warriors Within,” a look at the movie’s scene-stealing female characters and their respective relationships to T’Challa; and the self-explanatory “Wakanda Revealed: Exploring The Technology.” Like similar videos for other Marvel movies, these featurettes are enlightening but don’t have so much detail that they turn into a de facto film school.
These videos are followed on Black Panther Blu-ray by “From Page To Screen: A Roundtable Discussion” in which Coogler, producer Nate Moore, co-screenwriter Joe Robert Cole, and Black Panther comic book writers Christopher Priest [Black Panther By Christopher Priest: The Complete Collection Volume 1], Don McGregor [Black Panther: Panther’s Quest], and Ta-Nehisi Coates [Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet: Volume 1] spend twenty minutes discussing the history and significance of the character and this movie. It is easily the most engaging of all the special features.
Next, the Black Panther Blu-ray has “Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years — Connecting The Universe,” a perfunctory video that explains how Marvel planned to have all the movies fit together, and ultimately lead to Avengers: Infinity War; a fairly typical behind-the-scenes sneak peek at the upcoming Ant-Man And The Wasp that makes it look as fun as the first Ant-Man; and a gag reel that, as usual, is just funny footage of professionals acting unprofessionally.
As for what it’s missing, the Black Panther Blu-ray doesn’t have any of the movie’s original trailers, though it does have one for Ant-Man And The Waspwhen you first put in the disc, and the same trailer plus ads for the video games Marvel Strike Force, Marvel Contest Of Champions, and Marvel Future Fight in the “Sneak Peeks” section.
It’s also glaring how Black Panther co-creator and original writer Stan Lee is M.I.A. (though given his though given his recent health issues, it’s somewhat understandable), while even less is said about co-creator and original artist Jack Kirby (1917-1994). Especially since there’s probably some vintage footage of Lee and Kirby talking about this character in Marvel’s vaults.
But the most annoying thing about the extras on the Black Panther Blu-ray is that this version doesn’t include the videos “Come To Wakada: Before” and “Come To Wakanda: After,” which are included in the digital edition.
While these absences do make the Black PantherBlu-ray an incomplete picture of this movie, just having the film and the special features they did include still makes this worthwhile if you loved this impressive and (dare I say) important superhero movie.