Black Panther is the latest entry in the MCU, following the events of Civil War, T’Chala is set to be crowned king but has to face inevitable challenges, both to his nation and to his potential royal title, the film stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Danai Gurira, Lupita N’yongo, Winston Duke, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis.
After much hype and anticipation, Black Panther is here and is sort of a game changer for the MCU in more ways than one, being the first film in the cinematic universe with a majority black cast for one of course but the change brought on by the film goes deeper than that, though to start with that. The tone and feel of the film is just very different to previous Marvel films and you get Wakanda – and I mean a lot of Wakanda which is great and it’s crazy to think that at just over 2 hours, you barely scratch the surface of the nations lore and history. But you still get a real historical sense and understanding of it which is incredible for the average movie-goer, with just 1 or 2 brief mentions of Wakanda in the MCU previously, now knowing a fair amount about the fictional nation.
With the mis-en-scene and great production to help evoke the feeling of Wakanda being a real place – shielded by technology to the outside world, the visuals are fantastic and the vision of a technologically advanced African nation is so at odds with our modern view of Africa that it makes for great spectacle. It’s just great to see so much alternate cultural representation in a Marvel film of all things, with clear honouring and referencing to real African culture, clothing, jewellery and even body modification done respectfully, Wakanda is sort of a mish-mash of a lot of African tradition and culture rolled into one, making it quite the unique place.
The visuals on the whole are great, with well shot action scenes and a particularly notable and memorable fight sequence all done in one take – Netflix Dardevil style, from T’Chalas fight style to the Dora Milajes, the set pieces are well done and exciting with an emphasis on physicality and close combat, especially when it comes to the Panther suit itself.
One low point of the action is that early on some of it feels a bit out of focus which may be a technical error but it doesn’t remain an issue for the duration of the film, the CGI at times also looks a bit weightless. That being said, the films strengths far outweigh its few downfalls and it’s also an audible feast, with a brilliant soundtrack that evokes the culture represented in the film. Where Black Panther really shines is with its characters, a great ensemble cast with pretty much everyone giving an A+ performance, especially Chadwick Boseman and Michael B Jordan who kills it as Eric Killmonger (pun not intended), Andy Serkis is again great as Ulysses Claw and is clearly having a great time playing him. While the likes of Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker bring some added gravitas to the film, with the dramatic moments hitting home and not being played off for laughs like previous Marvel films have been guilty of *Cough* Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2, there’s weight to death and sacrifice in the story and it helps to ramp up the drama.
The film brings maybe surprising depth with the themes it tackles head on with some unwavering bravery, even making you sympathize with the antagonist in Killmonger, it also raises some fascinating thoughts on the idea of tradition Vs modernity. the notion of your heroes being imperfect and nationalism, can/should loyalty to your nation stop you helping people from other nations? There’s a lot to unpack and delve into. But in my eyes the film may have a big enough impact on the MCU to rival even Civil War with events to take place in the future – though details would be spoiling things.
Ultimately Black Panther is just sort of great, a deep, emotional film with thought provoking and pertinent themes that feels very of the times, the Marvel-isms are there of course with frequent humour, inevitably conflict and action but the film felt like a well done character drama that just happens to be in the MCU. Opening up a new type of storytelling for future films and while this may not be the first big black or majority black film, it’s still a great step forward regardless in its depiction of women and for diversity in genre films – especially in the comic book film variety.
. Fantastic performances throughout the cast
. Engaging plot and story
. Brilliant characterisation, complex characters throughout the story