To call Black Panther a phenomenon is like calling a hurricane a weather event with high winds. It is too pedantic. What Black Panther did when it arrived in cinemas earlier this year was extraordinary in every manner.

First, it was a fantastic film and an event that reminded audiences why we adore this medium of entertainment. Secondly, Black Panther was an important moment in the cultural history of our society as it gave audiences our first black superhero that mirrors a large swath of audience that had been grossly underrepresented in this genre of film for years. Scratch that… forever.

Black Panther, out now on digital download formats, DVD and Blu-Ray, is a film that has to shoot to the top of the list of movies that must be added to one’s home video collection.

Ryan Coogler’s finest work (which is saying something as the director gave us Fruitvale Station and Creed) is a masterclass in character introduction, rich character development and above all else, how one crafts onscreen souls that transcend story, time and also exist in a cinematic universe that has been already established by a decade of previously released blockbuster films. (On that note, proof of that was seen with the release of Avengers: Infinity War only several months after Black Panther arrived).

Chadwick Boseman has played so many historically iconic parts in the past — from Jackie Robinson (42), Thurgood Marshall (Marshall) to James Brown (Get On Up). Pressure to “nail it” could not have been any higher with the character of T’Challa, aka Black Panther, than with his previous work. His approach to T’Challa, compared to those previous roles, had to be quite similar because 1) he hit a grand slam with the turn and 2) made every fan of the African royal/superhero pleased as pie with his particular take on the Marvel legend.

Audiences first met Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War. It might have been easy to ride on that terrific film’s coattails and simply move towards the meat of the plot of Black Panther with his first stand-alone movie. No matter how you shake it, this film is an origins story and as such, there are certain boxes that needed to be ticked. Coogler as director, and as co-screenwriter (with Joe Robert Cole) penned a rich tapestry that never once got bogged down in the nitty-gritty details of this world. Instead, it peels away layer upon layer of the rich history of this character in a manner that moves plot gave us stellar action sequences and above all else, firmly emotionally grabbed audiences by the lapels and never let them go until … well, we still cannot shake our journey to Wakanda.

Black Panther not only uses the superhero landscape as a mirror to the larger societal and socio-economic historic woes of the most underrepresented peoples of our world, but it does so in a way that feels much like a Shakespearian family tragedy. Yes, that is saying something. The royal family here finds its challenge coming from the most unlikely of places, Michael B. Jordan’s dynamic Erik Killmonger. Being a cast-off family member that has every right to a royal upbringing and instead grew up in poverty in Oakland might make someone a little vengeful.

Yes, Killmonger is our villain, but in many ways, he is not the traditional foil to the hero. There is an emotionally charged element here that everyone can relate to, and as brought to life by director and co-writer Coogler, it is masterful to witness. When Killmonger comes back to his ancestral African home, it is with one mission and one mission only—to capture the crown and bring Wakanda’s wealth (and technology) to the areas where those of African descent are hit the hardest, economically and a lack of opportunity for any kind of advancement.

See, Wakanda has been existing in an almost literal bubble. Those in charge know all-too-well that if the world becomes aware of what they have there, it would be the beginning of the end of their existence. Killmonger does not care and that sets up the most epic of showdowns between our king and his resentful and rage-driven kin.

There is another element of Black Panther that is the ultimate triumph and that is how it showcases strong, multi-dimensional female characters that are exquisite in every sense of the word. Spotlighting those gifted actresses portraying those heroines and the character themselves leads off our look at the bevy of bonus features that are included with the Black Panther Blu-Ray release.

“The Warriors Within” is a stunning featurette that gives us an inside look at the wise and wickedly fierce women of Wakanda and the actresses who bring them to life. It is an important bonus feature that should inspire the youngest females, giving them the rarest (sad, but true) of looks at how creative types can craft characters that are inspiring and ones for them to aspire to.

The above featurette is part of a four-part series that looks at the making of the instant classic. The other three, “Crowning a New King,” “The Hidden Kingdom Revealed” and “Wakanda Revealed: Exploring the Technology” are all also fantastic, particularly the last one. There is a lot of tech in the film that is stunning to witness as it is used by our players but also has the viewer wondering the science behind that science fiction. Exploring the Technology digs deep and will have you looking at those scenes that utilize those elements with a whole new level of respect.

“From Page to Screen” is a sensational twenty-minute roundtable discussion that will be entertaining and enlightening for longtime Black Panther fans and new ones alike. The original creators of the comic and the filmmakers who brought him and his world to the big screen give priceless insight into that effort—all with an eye on the history, legacy and potential impact this world could have on our own.

After inhaling that featurette, we recommend diving into the film a second time with the audio commentary turned on and blasted to 11! The brilliant Coogler is paired with Hannah Beachler (production designer) as the two offer insight into the magic of the movie in terms of his technical how-to, as well as the origins of the themes that are highlighted throughout the narrative.

A trio of featurettes that also must be enjoyed is one that focuses on when the cast and filmmakers headed to the United Nations (“U.N. Meet and Greet”), a delightful dish that is Okoye And W’Kabi “Discuss the Future of Wakanda” and the revealing T’Challa “Remembers His Father.” See, there is a common thread that ties all these bonus features together that is sadly rare with home video releases. They keenly reflect the film itself and all of its richness that is utterly remarkable.

There is an exclusive sneak peek at Ant-Man and the Wasp that should get audiences jacked for the next Marvel movie to hit theaters. But the ultimate Marvel present to Marvel maniacs is the Marvel Studios the “First Ten Years: Connecting the Universe” featurette. It is exactly as it sounds and it is as insightful and impressive as it sounds as well.

Lastly, we would be remiss if we did not salute what Kendrick Lamar achieved with his musical contributions that are as laser-focused on reflecting the themes and cultural power of Black Panther as the script itself. If you don’t have it already, as soon as you finish reading this review… buy it. What are you waiting for?!

Film Grade: A
Bonus Features: A