Black Panther is a solid entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe that reminded me a little bit of Iron Man (2008), Thor: The Dark World (2013), with maybe a bit of Ant Man (2015) thrown in too.
Some people are rating it as the best Marvel movie to date. I wouldn't put it on the top of my list but it's certainly ranking fairly high on a very tight scale of solid movies.
Black Panther delivers on one of the promises of Marvel's Civil War (2016) movie, where we first meet T'Challa a.k.a. the Black Panther, and learn about his home country Wakanda (located somewhere unseen on the African continent). We all wanted to see more and now that time has arrived.
In Black Panther we learn how Wakanda came to be, it's political structure, and how one becomes it's king. Within that it explores social economic themes familiar to people of color, as well as ideas about how those in power can affect change on the wider community, and even globally.
Whilst all these themes are fairly central to the story it doesn't get bogged down by them. Even though there are some slower, more reflective parts of the film, the majority moves along at a good pace with plenty of action and moments of humor that you'd expect from a Marvel movie.
In terms of the other Marvel movies that spring to mind for me, I thought of Iron Man because that movie is largely considered to be one of the most perfect comic book movies, and I feel Black Panther could well share that title. Black Panther isn't really an origin story but otherwise I the broad story structure is very similar.
Thor: The Dark World comes to mind because in that film, like in Black Panther, you're introduced, in much more detail, to a magical city, that actually isn't all magic, but uses very advanced technology. Quite a bit of it seems like it could be possible in the not too distant future.
Shades of Ant Man come to mind for me in that, like Iron Man, the overall story structure is similar, but also Black Panther's powers are enhanced by the science and tech of his suit, not unlike Ant Man.
The Black Panther cast gives solid performances, with all the main players getting something to do that adds to the story. In terms of diversity, whilst you'd expect this cast to be mostly actors of color, with African heritage, the ratio of male to female characters seems fairly even in both number and standing against their male counterparts.
Culturally, I can see why Black Panther is an important step forward, not just in representing people of color, but also in creating an aspirational hero in terms of the character's values and ability to learn. He's a wise and thoughtful hero. It's easy to see why T'Challa and Steve Rodgers might get along fairly well. Both have similar moral codes but are not so rigid that they can't learn or see injustice even in the establishment.
Overall I found Black Panther to be an enjoyable film. As I said, it's not the best MCU movie for me, but it's certainly high on my list, with a solid story and a villain who is believably motivated.
Given the success of the film thus far at the box office and critically, we're definitely in for more Black Panther solo films moving forward... and I'll certainly be excited to see them upon release.