Black Panther is the first Marvel instalment of 2018, and it’s opening the year with a bang. Featuring an enormously talented cast, the film tells the story of the Black Panther T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and his struggle with using his power as King of his nation, Wakanda, for the right purposes.
Before digging into the action and getting to some glorious fight scenes (especially from Danai Gurira, who plays the head of the terrifying but awesome Dora Milaje), the film spends what at first seems like a surprisingly long time introducing us to Wakanda, the affluent and technologically advanced nation hidden deep in Africa. The production design of the city and surrounding tribes, along with the detailed costumes, reflects its magical and otherworldly quality, mixing dramatic natural landscapes with futuristic architecture and bursting with colour, leaving behind the sleek but rather grey and glass-filled planet earth that we’re used to seeing from Marvel in other films.
But this extensive time getting to know Wakanda is well spent. Director Ryan Coogler takes the time to include rituals and character interactions that come full circle later in the film, and add weight to the responsibility that T’Challa feels both as the superhero Black Panther, and as the king of a nation of people who trust him to protect them and to do what is right in a time of instability. This is a human-centric Marvel film that really digs into what’s underneath the suit, creating great, well-rounded characters with purpose in the process, and for once, a tragic villain whose motives aren’t as simply antagonistic as they appear on first glance.
With a stacked cast, breathtaking production design and sensitive, heartfelt storytelling, Black Panther is a refreshing and exciting movie that promises to take the superhero genre to new heights.
CAST: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Forest Whittaker, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman
DIRECTOR: Ryan Coogler
WRITERS: Ryan Cooler, Joe Robert Cole
SYNOPSIS: After the death of his father, T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.