The Black Panther,
Directed by Ryan Coogler,
Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman, Angela Bassett
The Marvel character that we first experienced in Captain America: Civil War, or as I called it, Avengers 3, comes back to his home country of Wakanda. Chronologically it’s a week after the death of his father and the events of Civil War, and following those events he now has to return to claim the throne. Meanwhile old enemy Klaue, Andy Serkis, has teamed with with a young man called Killmonger who has a deeper mission than just money. The sins of the father will be placed on the shoulders of the son in what could be the most Shakespearean of the Marvel Movies.
The growing feeling among many fans of superhero movies is that we’re simply tired of the whole World Ending events of the movies. Not every hero has to fight to save the whole world. Not every movie has to be weighed down with CGI villains or the whole planet being in danger. Suicide Squad should have simply been The Joker kidnapping Waller to get Harley out of prison and the Squad going after him. If superhero movies want to continue, then we’re going to need to see more personal stories, or they shall go the way of the Western and we’ll only have one or two a decade. It’s that simple. Thankfully the film that I was worried most about, Black Panther, has turned out to give me hope for the cinematic universe of Marvel.
The reason is that this film has left the wider world at their borders, at least for this film, and really brings in the family history of the Wakandan Royal family, and their sins. This may not sound like something that brings the excitement that you think that superhero movies should have, but don’t worry, Marvel and Disney know what they are doing. The action scenes are something to behold as the advanced technology behind Black Panther and his people is used to full effect.
The story starts in 1992 when the then King and Black Panther, T’Chaka, has to visit LA to see his brother. Things don’t go to plan and leave a sour taste in the mouth of a young boy. Forward to a week after the events of Civil War and the now King and Black Panther T’Challa is returns home to complete his rise to King. He has to decide what type of King he wants to be, to open the borders to the rest of the world or remain hidden. When the enemy of the people of Wakanda Klaue, or Klaw, tries to sell some of their precious metal T’Challa must go and either bring him home to justice or kill him where he stands. Its seems though that Klaue has back up in Killmonger played by Michael B Jordan, and is also being chased by the CIA with their agent Everett Ross hot on his heals.
It’s the blend of the action and superhero themes with the family drama that will strike you in this film, it feels like a grown up adventure rather than what you expect. Taking the tension from Civil War and mixing in the more personal story of Ant-Man, the film could have done with a little more comedic moments. But that’s the only criticism I have for this movie, and in saying that, if I were to score this film in some way I couldn’t take a point off for it. In fact I left feeling like I wanted to walk back in and watch it again.
Chadwick Boseman is back as T’Challa and once again he’s a strong performer; you believe in this character. In fact the whole cast are great in their roles. Michael B. Jordan is fantastic as Killmonger and you understand this villain while still seeing the evil in him’ his motivations are clear – you don’t want him to succeed, of course, but your understand why he is as he is a bit more. Andy Serkis should be arrested as he’s stealing every scene he’s in. But the thing that I admired is that the female performers are the strongest group in the whole film. There are no Damsels in Distress here. Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, and Danai Gurira lead the charge and it’s a hugely enjoyable thing to see strong women standing toe to toe with the men. Really empowering stuff.
While Black Panther gives us that heavy drama that superhero movies need right now, don’t think for a moment that they have forgotten the action, the balance is outstanding. For fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe this is a great addition to the series. I honestly thought that this was merely going to be a precursor to the Infinity War film coming later this year, but it’s nothing of the sort. It takes a character we met only once before in the Marvel Universe and gives us one of the most complete cinematic Marvel adventures to date.