You don’t need me to sit here and tell you how great Marvel’s Black Panther is. The film has enjoyed a financial, critical, and cultural success that people still discuss to this day. Its quality is basically axiomatic at this point.
But the timing of the film’s Blu-ray release is interesting. As promised, Infinity War drastically shook up the MCU, and right as that seismic impact is dying down, we now have this opportunity to revisit a film that’s not old at all, yet feels a bit different in Infinity War’s wake. It’s a perfect time to appreciate the beauty, aesthetic originality and relative stand-alone quality of Black Panther even more than we already did. The film is filled with rich themes and important ideas but also a sense of independence from the usual Marvel machinations, and we’re lucky to have it.
Of course Black Panther looks and sounds great on Blu-ray. It would be shocking if it didn’t. But there are also a good amount of special features you’ll find if you pick up the disk. Naturally, pretty much all of them focus on the inspiration for and making of the film.
Things start out with a handful of short featurettes. Normally these EPK things are boring, but the excitement involved here feels genuine. Their subjects include a look at Black Panther in general, Wakanda, Black Panther’s female characters (this was my favorite because of all the talent involved and how happy they seem) and the film’s vibranium technology.
After a brief but fun gag real, we jump into the deleted scenes. All four are great and you can tell none were excised due to quality issues. One gives us some warm parting words between T’Challa and Everett Ross, which is nice. Another really good one shows T’Challa reminiscing about his father with Zuri, which is also nice! The best was released online and shows us a pretty important discussion between Okoye and W’Kabi regarding Killmonger. The final is a flashback to a young T’Challa talking to his father following the film's opening scene. All these scenes add texture and emotion to the film. It's unfortunate they were cut, but even in this context, they still enhance the story for those who are interested.
One of the disk’s best features is a twenty-minute roundtable discussion between Black Panther comic book writers Christopher Priest, Don McGregor and Ta-Nehisi Coates; Ryan Coogler; co-writer Joe Robert Cole; and executive producer Nate Moore. Most of the discussion focuses on the history and importance of Black Panther, but it’s also really cool to see these comic book writers praise Coogler and his film. Their excitement is a lot of fun and like everything on this Blu, it all feels really sincere.
Speaking of Coogler, there is a great audio commentary featuring him and production designer Hannah Beachler. You get the idea that Coogler doesn’t like to discuss himself much, as he frequently points out new production elements for Beachler to discuss, which she does with a ton of knowledge and insight. You learn a lot about how much of the film is practical and specifically what inspired this or that design idea. Coogler does speak his fair share and offers a lot of interesting tidbits, but he’s definitely not a motormouth trying to hog the spotlight.
The final features are much more Marvel-based. One is a typical EPK thing looking at the first ten years of the MCU. The other is an exclusive look at Ant-Man and the Wasp that is essentially the last trailer intercut with talking head interviews from those involved.
The real prize here is of course owning Black Panther and being able to watch it any time you want, but this is far from an empty disk. It’s not some super-stacked special edition, but those eager to dig deeper into the world of Wakanda should have no complaints.