The Marvel Machine chugs onwards with Black Panther, the first Superhero film based on an african character. Being the final film before Avengers Infinity War, Black Panther aims to teach us more about the intriguing character introduced in Captain America Civil War, ready for him to be a main part of the team in this May’s blockbuster team up.
Black Panther boasts one of the most talent stacked casts of any marvel film to date. From Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther, to Forest Whitaker as a troubled priest Zuri, to Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, there is a talented actor in every role in the film. Almost all of them are performers you will recognise from somewhere, whether its Daniel Kaluuya from Get Out, or Andy Serkis in a rare non-motion capture role. Each of them brings something to the table and it contributes towards a brilliantly performed film that director Ryan Coogler weaves together to create an entertaining and unexpectedly thoughtful film. All those characters mentioned, special praise goes to the women playing T’Challa’s bodyguards the awesome Dora Milaje.
That thoughtfulness comes from the themes and social commentary attempted by the film. Characters are forced to realise the mistakes of the past, and confronted with the question of how they are going to go forward to make things better in the future. It’s a question that I believe everyone faces in their lives in some way at some point, and one which several characters have differing opinions on. This led to me feeling much more sympathetic to both sides of the main conflict in the film.
The country of Wakanda is such an incredibly cool idea, a hidden african nation decades ahead of the rest of the world technologically. Bringing the world to life in such an impressive way is a great achievement, and its futuristic elements melded in with the tribal nature of the characters is something unique to this film. The world itself also contributes towards the conflict and main themes of the film. I found myself longing to learn more about the country, and its history which is a great thing for a film to be able to do in terms of world building.
They say the best villains are the ones who are the heroes of their own story, and that could be said for antagonist Erik Killmonger, played by the charismatic Michael B Jordan, who steals several scenes in the film. The scene in which we are introduced to the character is one of my favourites from the entire film, and the threat he poses to our hero feels very real. Marvel have once again gone for a bad guy that is a mirror of the films good guy trope, as Iron man 1, Doctor Strange, and the hulk all fought a very similar character to themselves, and that’s just off the top of my head. What separates Killmonger from the rest of the MCU villains to date is that we are given a clear and understandable reason for why he is doing what he is doing, even if we don’t agree with the methods he employs.
This far into a superhero movie review and I haven’t mentioned the fight scenes or action yet, of which there is plenty in the film. Disappointingly, i thought this is the weakest part of Black Panther. There are some great one to one duels in the film, but the big set pieces fell a bit flat for me. Considering Ryan Coogler’s work in Creed, which features a truly magnificent boxing scene, i expected the action in Black Panther to be clear and easy to follow. The reality is at times you get lost in the colours flashing around on-screen as the action is filmed using a lot of cuts and close-ups in some set pieces. The car chase scene stands out as something that we should be discussing as one of the moments of the film, but I don’t think that will prove to be the case.
There is a fair bit of obvious computer effects throughout the film, but the points where you really notice is the fight scenes. Characters at times resemble something off a Playstation and not up to the standard that we have come to expect from these big Marvel films. They are victims of their own success here, but I think a little bit more attention to details in those moments would have made a big difference.
This is a different superhero film to what we have gotten used to from Marvel, and the thought-provoking nature of the film is really something to be applauded. The film may struggle to match some of Marvel’s other efforts when it comes to being an action packed superhero film but, much in the same way the character himself isn’t just another person to add to the roster, Black Panther isn’t just another superhero film, it succeeds at being more than that.
Good: By all accounts this film means a lot for representation around the world, featuring the first Black comic character in a film since Blade, and the first African superhero ever. On top of that, it’s an intelligent, clever film that will leave you feeling positive.
Bad: The slightly too hectic action didn’t hit for me, and the noticeable CGI always distracts me, the fact i still rate it so highly is a testament to the storytelling though.
8/10 – Wakanda Forever.