Ever since the Marvel Cinematic Universe started nearly ten years ago, they made B-list characters like Iron Man and Thor cool and relevant to modern audiences, and now they’ve done the same for Black Panther thanks to Chadwick Boseman’s flawless portrayal and the film that surrounds him. When Boseman’s Black Panther was introduced in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, they managed to effortlessly interweave his origin into the main plot of the Avengers becoming divided. Now with his solo movie, his origin story becomes complete as T’Challa returns to his native Wakanda to be crowned as the rightful King following his father’s death in Civil War.
Having made his mark as a director/screenwriter after Fruitvale Station and Creed, Ryan Coogler steps up to the mark for this film, and the world he has created captures you almost immediately thanks to its depth, colour and vibrancy. The world of Wakanda is the perfect blend of exotic sub-African culture and the most outlandish sci-fi imaginable, and it is full of rich imagination, which is not uncommon for any of these movies after having creative worlds for Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy. The story by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole is genuinely a tale about how one confronts his own inner demons as we see T’Challa going through serious trials and tribulations following his coronation as King of Wakanda, wanting to honour his father’s legacy and do what he feels is right for Wakanda despite outside forces threatening its peace and tranquillity in the form of both the deranged Ulysses Klaue and T’Challa’a arch nemesis Killmonger, who aims to use Wakanda’s advanced vibranium technology to free oppressed people “who look like him” across the globe.
As good as the world and the story is, it’s also helped massively by the depth that is felt through the relationships between each character involved, and there are certainly no small parts here. Once again, Boseman is every bit as impressive as he was in Civil War, adding more emotional layers to the conflicted titular hero, while Letitia Wright is an absolute blast as the intellectually sparky sister Shuri. Lupita Nyong’o also adds emotional weight as master spy and T’challa’s ex-girlfriend Nakia, Danai Gurira is pure badass as General Okoye, Martin Freeman is fine solid support as Everett Ross (also from Civil War) despite an occasionally wonky accent, and Andy Serkis has more fun as Klaue than he did in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Michael B. Jordan may have gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to comic book movies as a result of 2015’s disastrous Fant4stic, but here, he is redeemed of all sins as he delivers an incredibly tense performance as Killmonger, creating one of the best MCU alongside Loki and Vulture.
As is the standard for most Marvel movies, the special effects are top notch, the score by Ludwig Göransson and Kendrick Lamar is perfect at capturing the movie’s rich atmosphere, and the cinematography by Rachel Morrison is gorgeous. With everything going for it, Black Panther is a truly special movie, and the impact this movie is guaranteed to have on many diverse cultures makes it all the more significant and relevant. Marvel Studios has successfully expanded on Black Panther’s terrific Civil War introduction in his terrific solo movie, which stands as one of the best MCU movies to date, and it’ll be very interesting to see which journey the character will take as we get even closer to the much-anticipated Avengers: Infinity War.
Dir: Ryan Coogler
Scr: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whittaker, Andy Serkis
Prd: Kevin Feige
DOP: Rachel Morrison
Music: Ludwig Göransson
Run time: 134 mins