After the huge success of Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel saw an opportunity to bring their lesser known characters to the big screen. One of them being Black Panther.
Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, an heir to the throne of Wakanda, a technologically advanced city that was believed to be wiped out. After a familiar figure returns to the African city and threatens to take the throne for himself, T’Challa must fight for his kingdom and take his place in the circle of life.
While the plot does sound similar to a certain Disney film that was released over 20 years earlier, it definitely works here. It is also a necessary story within the MCU, especially after Black Panther’s first appearance in Captain America: Civil War in 2016. And, spoiler alert, this is one of my favourite Marvel films.
The setting of Wakanda is stunning; this city has history, and it immediately convinces its audience that it’s been standing and thriving for thousands of years. It may, as first glance, be a city landscape that Marvel fans are familiar with, but the little details are what makes it stand out from the rest of the Marvel locations. It mixes traditional African culture with various technologies of the future, giving Wakanda a unique and beautiful appearance. They’ve progressed quickly, all while keeping hold of their ancestors’ beliefs and traditions.
The lead actors are fantastic. Chadwick Boseman and Letitia Wright, who plays his younger sister Shuri, have great chemistry together, forming a believable and realistic brother/sister relationship onscreen. Erik Killmonger, played by Michael. B. Jordan, is one of the best MCU villains, and his motives were understandable. He also created a moral dilemma: should Wakanda share its technology with the rest of the world, benefiting the poor and the vulnerable; or should they stay hidden, knowing the rest of the world would inevitably use the technology for warfare? Sometimes a relatable and convincing villain is worse than just a crazy evil villain.
What also makes this film stand out is its score and soundtrack. It’s essentially one of the film’s stars; the score, written by Ludwig Göransson, gives its audience the usual and formulated orchestral music that is typical in a Marvel film, but blends it with traditional African music. In contrast, the soundtrack, by Kendrick Lamar, features electronic music. This mixture ultimately symbolizes the modern city of Wakanda.
The only flaw in Black Panther is the visual effects in the final battle. Compared to the rest of the film, this sequence has dodgy CGI, making it look like a cartoon. While this is disappointing, the various fighting techniques carried out in each scene is enough of a distraction and more than makes up for the effects.
Black Panther is not only a fantastic film, it’s also an important film within the MCU and the superhero genre as a whole. As agenre that is dominated by white male leads, it’s refreshing to see a film with a mostly African/American cast, and strongly written female characters.
Basically what I’m saying is – Wakanda Forever!
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordon, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Andy Serkis