The first Marvel movie of the year arrived on our shores earlier this month and given the amount of anticipation over the first true black film with Superheroes to arrive within the Marvel Universe since the whole cinematic thing began, was it was well worth the wait?
Yes, for the most part.
Now before you all launch into the usual internet outrage and spam me with all sorts of bile that even Alex Jones of InfoWars wouldn’t even get for saying people being shot were actors, let me explain. Black Panther is a wonderful film. It’s cast, crew and director all deserve a huge amount of credit of in essence, bringing the grand scale of events back down to Earth and deal with certain topics which seem to be sadly just as relevant now as they were years ago.
In fact if you’re after a recommendation without reading any further, I can only wholeheartedly say yes! It was damned enjoyable and an excellent tone change from Thor: Fraggle-Rock last year where pretty much everything save for around 5 minutes was a joke every three seconds. Thor was good, don’t get me wrong. But even now, I still think they took it a wee bit too far. Black Panther has the usual Marvel humour, but it’s used much more sparingly and thus when various events take place, you will not be subject to a punchline only a moment later.
When the humour arrives of course, it works and does fit into the conversations quite well.
So go on then, given how this film is not about saving the entire world again, what is it about? Well, having been Introduced to Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War without a huge amount of backstory, it’s actually kind of nice to see in animated form how the King became to be so, and how the mystical land of Wakanda came to be. It doesn’t outstay its welcome as we then say hail to the King; T’Challa played by Chadwick Boseman, who frankly is on excellent form as the ruler of Wakanda / the guy who dressed up like a cat when needed.
His head guard is a lady warrior Okoye, played brilliantly by Danai Gurira throughout. T’Challa has a former love interest who turns up, Nakia, and soon enough, we have various lies, treachery and deceit as we see ancient traditions still be held against the massive technological strides Wakanda has taken unknown to the rest of the world.
As far as the story goes, it’s quite a good mix. Elements of small scale James Bond situations (trust me, they actually seem to do James Bond better than James Bond right now…..) where we see new tech being tried out and used to the issues of holding onto the past, helping the rest of Mankind verses staying out of the world and safe are all slotted into place and work well. Of course, the history of slavery / colonialism which although a bit too on the nose, it’s not something which takes away from the film at all. In fact, there has been some arguments that it didn’t go far enough with that thread, given the issues highlighted about helping the world vs staying hidden and safe.
In terms of the cast, a special mention has to go to Andy Serkis here, reprising his role as the arms dealer Ulysses Klaue, last seen with only one arm back in Avengers: Age of Ultron. He is just having a ball with the role and some of the ridiculous jokes he makes during a car chase in South Korea are just priceless. Hell, the other speical mention has to go to Winston Duke, whose character, the chief of the Mountain tribe M’Baku is a real welcome surprise of the whole film, given where we first see him to how he’s changed at the end.
However, Black Panther is not without issues. In fact the main issue for me was the main antagonist, played by one Micheal B. Jordan. The last time we saw him of course in another Marvel film, was the fire bloke in 20th Century Fox’s Fantastic Four-Stick flop back in 2015 so we’ll just pretend that didn’t happen. Just like everyone else has including Fox probably.
He was the weakest part of the entire film, with character depth as deep as a child’s paddling pool. Oh you have Daddy issues and and so that causes you to try and f**k everything up? OK, considering who is in the White House in 2018, it’s not that ridiculous a concept after all. There are a few fleeting moments where he did seem to have something there, but overall, his bad guy role will be largely forgettable, which compared to the insane joy coming from Andy Serkis’ Klaue, was basically a deflated balloon of a character. A real shame.
It’s shame because there were so many roles within the film that were wonderful, from T’challa’s sister played by Letitia Wright who is basically a far less crap Q than what we’ve seen in James Bond recently, to the dignified Forest Whitaker being all statesmen like.
There of course were lots of various stereotypes on show, which with some of the soundtrack, there’s no damn way in hell you’re not going to think Lion King. Come on, you make it too easy to take the p*ss out of it all! The women were all kicking bottom in this film and it made for a welcome change of someone else being the damsels in distress! The special effects while for the most part were good, they were notably poor in places which was a distraction it must be said.
Overall though, Black Panther is yet another solid and mostly standalone entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which you will enjoy and it’s not long till we see the cast again in Avengers: Infinity War. Wakanda forever bitches!