Marvel’s Black Panther has finally clawed its way into cinemas with Ryan Coogler directing Chadwick Boseman as the titular superhero. A lot is riding on this latest instalment to the MCU, especially with Infinity War heading our way this summer. And let’s not forget the Panther’s scene stealing moments in Civil War too.
Portrayed to perfection by Boseman, Prince (now King) T’Challa is by far one of the most interesting characters of the MCU. Black Panther peels back those layers of the characters by stripping him down to the basics whilst introducing us to the fictional and extremely high-tech world of Wakanda.
The movie is largely about T’Challa’s ascension to the throne and how he copes being both the protector and ruler of Wakanda. Although he excels with the former, his latter duties do not fare so well due to internal conflicts and politics amongst his allies. Trouble soon brews with the arrival of Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) who not only challenges the King but also holds a deep dark secret that may destroy the Wakanda way of life forever.
Essentially it is about fatherhood, politics, fighting and some internal family struggles, all set within the backdrop of Africa. In a way it is a lot like The Lion King but with more weapons, warriors and superheroes, and it’s pretty much Boseman’s show to carry from start to finish with the supporting cast there to shoulder some of the weight.
As far as the MCU goes though, Coogler has delivered something vastly different and interesting with an intent focus on black culture and global politics and problems. These topics serve as the backdrop to the film and it manages to send out a clear message and stand on its own two feet without the help of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. That said, it does suffer some glaring issues much like most Marvel films.
The most significant issue is the Panther’s arch nemesis. Although Jordan turns in a fine performance, by portraying an MCU villain with a rich and sad backstory, the character of Killmonger, ultimately is just another carbon copy of the Black Panther. This is something that Marvel hasn’t been able to shake off since Iron Man.
There’s also the climatic third act, which sees friends turning enemies and vice versa, all done too conveniently just to drive home a lesson for the moviegoer. And then there’s the set-up for Infinity War, which Black Panther does very little off, except possibly the two end credits scene, one of which featuring a familiar face from the MCU.
Overall though, Black Panther is pretty good and entertaining with some minor subplots and holes that are quite easily overlooked. It is a fitting edition to the MCU and it will leave audiences craving more of the Black Panther for sure. But let’s hope the second time around he gets a better villain to sink his claws into.
Popcorn Rating: Fairly Fresh