There are so many superhero movies right now that it's hard to keep track. There are more in development than would fit on two hands. But in the last year, one stands out as the most exciting: Black Panther. In a story with dozens of heroes, Black Panther stands above the rest and manages to be more than just a fun movie—it's a legitimately good one.

It's not because Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) himself is special. It's the people around him who really elevate the movie. His sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) is a breakout character and one of the few that could believably go toe-to-toe with Tony Stark in both science and wit. Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) is right up there with great villains like Wilson Fisk, Vulture, and Thanos. I found myself kind of rooting for him because he had a point—and was portrayed by an actor who made it feel real.

This is part of our "Best of" series. For more, check out our Best Videos Games of 2018 and Best Movies of 2018.

It helps that the movie didn't feel like a setup for another one, but its own local and intimate story. Black Panther is part of the greater web of Marvel movies, but it's also its own thing. A story of betrayal, entitlement, power, and righteousness. When T'Challa and Killmonger have their final battle, they're not just fighting to see who punches harder, or for some intangible disaster, but for the fate of a people. It all feels real and close.

And in a series where movies are usually about things like interspace time wizards and guys who can end centillions of lives with flashy gloves and cool jazz moves, director Ryan Coogler did a great job making the scale of a Marvel movie and the drama of a Shakespearean play meet the intimacy of an indie film. In the process, he turned T'Challa into a household name, and people have nearly willed the fictional nation of Wakanda into the real world just by crossing their arms.

Make sure to check out our original review of Black Panther from February.

  • Release Date: February 16, 2018
  • Box Office: $1.34 billion
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
  • Director: Ryan Coogler
  • Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyongo, Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira

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