At one point in Black Panther, Erik Killmonger, Michael B. Jordan’s character, says: “Can you believe that? A kid from Oakland running around believing in fairy tales?”

With one grand film and a single line, director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed) lays out the story of the African-American experience, framing it in an escapist piece of entertainment.

In a script Coogler wrote with Joe Robert Cole, Black Panther feels like — by leaps and bounds — the most personal Marvel film to hit screens. For some, based on the subject matter, it will be more so.

Coogler subtly, intelligently, emotionally and with humor connects the dots from European colonialism to present-day problems that plague the African-American community and the negative perceptions that continue to hang around the neck of Africa.

He does this within the confines of a comic-book movie. Coogler and Cole serve up a compelling plot and mix genres, as Black Panther possesses aspects of a James Bond film and a thriller, laced with just the right balance of humor to even the tone.

Set a week or so after the events of Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to the lush, technologically advanced country of Wakanda to claim the crown that is rightfully his. He struggles emotionally without his father, T’Chaka (John Kani).

With the throne comes the responsibility of keeping his people’s confidence, not an easy task when you were there when your father was killed and could not save him.

T’Challa’s mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett), sister and whiz kid Shuri (Letitia Wright, who has a bright future ahead), leader of the imperial guard Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the love of his life, Naki (Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o) remain in his corner.

He certainly needs them after discovering his father’s old nemesis, who he hunted for decades, Ulysses Klaue (a delightfully over-the-top Andy Serkis) is back on the prowl attempting to sell “vibranium,” the metallurgical element that is a key to Wakanda’s success.

Working with Klaue is Killmonger, a young man who wants nothing more than the power that vibranium wields, in the hopes he can use it to lead Wakandan spies throughout the world to overthrow repressive regimes.

Killmonger is both a monster, as he is described on more than one occasion in the film, and also a tragic figure brilliantly portrayed by Jordan (who starred in Coogler’s two previous films). He almost — almost — steals every scene where he appears. But his character points to a strong Shakespearean influence on Coogler and Cole’s script.

There’s endless optimism in Black Panther, but the film isn’t constrained by that fact. The writers broker in reality and aren’t afraid to examine serious issues through this extraordinary lens that they’re given.

Realistically, there would be little success without the cast they have. Jordan’s performance is balanced with a regal performance from Boseman. While Killmonger is raw emotion, T’Challa is calculating, intelligent and restrained, laced with empathy that’s hard not to admire. Behind it all is an attitude that his kindness should not be mistaken for weakness.

While the juxtaposition of those two characters and their respective backgrounds eventually stand at the center of Black Panther, a stellar supporting cast, which includes Forest Whitaker and Martin Freeman, is unforgettable. It’s one more aspect of the film that should make Coogler proud.

Coogler’s overall ambition in crafting a sociologically complex story and presenting it as standard comic-book-movie fare succeeds: There is nothing common about Black Panther.

George M. Thomas dabbles in movies and television for the Beacon Journal. Reach him at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook @GeorgeThomasABJ.