With a long line of Marvel movies set to release in the coming year, Alexander Glover reviews the first of these marvellous wonders.
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writers: Ryan Coogler, Jack Kirby and Joe Robert Cole
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira and Martin Freeman
Release Date: 13th February
Black Panther may not be the most well-known character, but he has an important legacy in comic books as the first black superhero. Making his debut in 1966, he has gone on to have successful runs in comic books and made his live-action debut in Captain America: Civil War (2016).
It’s good to see a big superhero flick take place somewhere other than the United States. We see scenes in London, South Korea, and of course the fictional African country Wakanda. Oakland, California features as a nice nod to the real Black Panthers.
The research done on this project shows as early audiences have been praising the attention to detail and the respect paid to African heritage.
The film seems to have taken influences from other big films and TV series. James Bond comparisons will come from the importance of spies in the film, in addition to the impressive gadgets being developed in Wakanda. The film is reminiscent of Wonder Woman as Wakanda, much like Themyscira, hides in plain site unbeknownst to the world. It also features some very strong female characters willing to do anything to protect their land. Actor Daniel Kaluuya, who plays M’Baku, has also compared the scale of the film to Game of Thrones.
Star Wars comparisons are the closest to home as this is a Disney film and Lucasfilm was involved in the production. The flying vehicles and the streets of Wakanda would not be out of place in ‘a galaxy far far away,’ although filmmakers have said Blade Runner (1982) was an influence on the design of the city.
That is a lot of big-name productions to be reminded of whilst watching Black Panther. However, this takes nothing away from the film, which is excellent overall.
Boseman does a great job in the titular role and he has great chemistry with his fellow actors. The relationship between him and his sister (Letitia Wright), Wakanda’s head of R&D, is charming and highly entertaining. Nyong’o plays his ex-lover and the two clearly have unfinished business.
“Jordan portrays Erik Killmonger, the best villain in a superhero film that audiences have seen in a long time.”
Jordan portrays Erik Killmonger, the best villain seen in a superhero film in a long time. His grounded abilities, trained by various US military units, make him a threat that could exist in the real world. This is a nice break from the usual world-ending end goal. He also has clear motives for his actions and a troubled backstory that allows the audience to sympathise with him. All of this, plus Jordan’s charisma, make him a memorable adversary.
Serkis returns as the gangster thief Ulysses Klaue and Whittaker portrays high priest, Zuri. To continue the comparisons, director Ryan Coogler has described Zuri as the “Black Panther version of Obi-Wan Kenobi.”
There are two after-credits scenes if you feel like staying after the cinema begins to empty. New music from Kendrick Lamar makes the wait enjoyable. His label, TDE has produced an album of original content to accompany the film and it’s full of some of the industry’s biggest names.
In a Nutshell: A big step forward in Marvel’s cinematic universe which will appeal to even the least well-versed superhero fans.