Black Panther (2018) – Ryan Coogler

Opening next Friday, Marvel and Disney unveil their latest effort in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it is a wonder to behold!

Chadwick Boseman who brought Black Panther to life in Captain America: Civil War now brings T’Challa home to his nation of Wakanda. Hidden from the rest of the world, Wakanda is a technologically advanced society. Most of their advancements come from vibranium (the same material that makes Cap’s shield), of which they have plenty. But they are unsure if they should share it with the rest of the world.

This idea of xenophobia permeates the film on all sides, until our heroes begin to realise that inclusiveness makes them, and the world stronger.

At T’Challa’s side is Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o – who is simply amazing to watch), his sister, Shuri (the scene-stealing Letitia Wright), his mother, Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and his friend W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya).

After he ascends to the throne, becoming the leader of his country, he decides to find and bring the weapons-seller, thief and murderer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) to justice, which will avenge W’Kabi’s later father.

When this fails, a new threat emerges when a long lost son of Wakanda, Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) returns home, and makes his own claim on the throne.

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Black Panther has some brilliant world building, great set pieces (though I feel that there is a little too much CGI), captivating performances, and a stunning production design. Wherever you look in Wakanda you can see the influences of their society, and the African continent, the buildings, the vehicles, the costumes, everything speaks of the people and the place, in colourful and beautiful ways.

The other thing I loved about the film is that it starts on such an epic level. Everything is on an international scale, right versus left, xenophobia versus inclusion. There are political messages aplenty woven into the fabric of Black Panther’s outfit. But as the tale progresses, sure the action amps up, but the story itself becomes more intimate as it becomes about not the world, but Wakanda, its people and its place in the world.

Boseman is immensely likeable, and Jordon’s performance is filled with menace. The two characters are two sides of the same coin. You could see that either one could have led the other’s life, and why they are the way they are.

And the thing that I loved about this movie the most is that finally, as we continue our journey through Phase 3 of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) there is a black hero on the screen. In fact there are a number of them. And I couldn’t help but get excited that some young child, no matter what pigmentation his or her skin is, will look up at that screen and see themselves in the heroes there.

It took Marvel a while to do it, but Black Panther is a welcome addition to the Marvel Universe, and continues to show that Kevin Feige, who is overseeing the MCU, knows what he is doing, and the stories being told are timely, relevant, crowd-pleasing, and filled with heroes.

Black Panther opens next Friday!

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