Out next week in cinemas is the supposed first big blockbuster of 2018, Black Panther starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, and Danai Gurira.
It’s been a hot minute since Captain America: Civil War in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the dust is still settling around the world. One of the heroes still reeling from the events is T’challa (Boseman) the now King of Wakanda after his father was killed during the events in Civil War. The story of Black Panther follows T’challa, the people of Wakanda and their place in the world and what could happen to the state of the world if the power and technology of this secret and highly advanced civilisation were to fall into the wrong hands. Black Panther is a highly political adventure dealing with the nature of a nation like Wakanda which is perceived as a third world country but is easily the most advanced with its vibranium based technology.
This puts T’challa as the new monarch in a moral quandary, is now the time to share the power of Wakanda with the world and be seen as the beacon of light it should be or do they stay in the shadows forever hoarding the wonders they have amassed due to the tradition of xenophobia that has built up over the generations. It is this element that pushes the characters of Black Panther and it is fascinating to watch. Director Ryan Coogler (Creed) has built a stunning world and when you couple that with the over the top cinematography from Rachel Morrison, there is a car chase battle that is a stellar experience to watch, and an electric score from Ludwig Göransson and Black Panther has a unique style among the Marvel films which is saying a lot considering the number of Marvel films out at this stage (a total of 18 with Black Panther’s release).
The characters of Black Panther are where some of the highest strengths are but also where some of the disappointing lows also stand. The villains, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) and Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) the two main antagonists are perfect windows into the chaos into the world and how it can blacken your soul. Killmonger, in particular, is a person defined by pain and anguish, and he has been drenched in the bile of war for so long that he can’t see beyond it. He’s been already pushed out among the rest of the Marvel villains as a contender for best villain and though I do believe he is decent he still falters like all of them. The one reason I would say that he is up for consideration is because he is the most brutal villain in the MCU and he doesn’t make a joke once throughout Black Panther and it’s just Michael B. Jordan’s infectious charm that brings you around to his tainted worldview.
On the side of the angels we have Chadwick Boseman continuing to give the stellar performance he won audiences over with in Civil War. T’challa is a man struggling with how to be a good man and how to be a good king and with the complications that arise in this film he is tested to his limits as both. He is joined this time around by three firey women, Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) an ex of T’challa’s who wishes to bring the wonder of Wakanda to the world, Okoye (Danai Gurira) the head of T’challa’s royal guard and possibly the greatest warrior in all of Wakanda, and finally T’challa’s little sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) the Q to his Bond she outfits him with all the cutting edge tech with her own cutting tongue to match. All these women are brilliant and if I had a personal favourite it would be Okoye she is such a force of nature and Gurira brings such a believable intensity to the role.
The biggest fault that I have with Black Panther though is one that only deep dive fans will have when they are prepping for Avengers: Infinity War later this year, there is no sense of real threat throughout the film which is what happens when you have such a well-oiled mission like Marvel running their films so closely together.
Ryan Coogler and his cast and crew have given a much-beloved superhero a proper introduction to the world in Black Panther. With Chadwick Boseman firmly holding the mantle long may he reign in the MCU.