The much anticipated comic book movie Black Panther was released in theatres here last week to much fanfare. The 18th film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was written by Joe Robert Cole and Ryan Coogler.
Coogler was also responsible for directing the piece, which stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis.
The film picks up directly after the death of T’Challa’s (the Black Panther) father T’Chaka in Captain America: Civil War. T’Challa returns to Wakanda to be crowned king, but is soon challenged for the right to the throne from an apparent outsider, Erik Killmonger.
Movie critics, who would have grown tired over the years with the same predictable format in MCU films, should be quite pleased with what Black Panther brings to the table. Not only is the movie solidly produced with hardly any unnecessary side plots, but the dual themes of vengeance and duty to one’s country make for a generally satisfying storyline.
Boseman, who plays the titular character T’Challa, delivered a solid performance, showing us that even though he knows his responsibility lies in protecting the nation of Wakanda, at times he is troubled by the fact that he cannot do more to aid the world with the technology the country possesses.
However, the real star of the show was Jordan as the film’s main antagonist, Killmonger. The swagger, confidence and believability he brought to the role was hard to miss on the big screen, as he expertly took down all who stood in his way for the throne. His motivation was clear and to the point: The leaders of Wakanda had taken all that he loved and held dear, and he was not going to allow such a heinous crime to go unpunished.
In a surprise twist, Killmonger’s actions would push T’Challa towards the realization that he as king had the power to change the world for the better, and not just sit and do nothing as the world came crashing down around him. Marvel movie villains are almost always forgettable, or just ok at best. However, in Black Panther, Killmonger was a welcome relief from the mediocrity we have seen in previous MCU films.
Unlike most love interests in current films, Nakia brought more than simply her good looks to the screen. She was there with her own agenda, saving the less fortunate. She had recognized that the leadership in Wakanda had failed for the most part to use its power and resources for the betterment of other countries, and that did not sit right with her. This, however, did not cloud her love for country. In the end, she would choose to save her country from what she saw a tyrannical figure (Killmonger).
The Guyana-born Letitia Wright was the breakout star of the film for me personally. Her character Shuri was full of personality and comedic energy, especially during the early part of the movie. Her love of science and technology was also welcomed. In fact, I sense that we will be hearing a lot more from both Shuri and Tony Stark (also referred to as Iron Man) in future movies.
Overall Black Panther was an excellent movie. All aspects of the film were well put together, and nothing seemed rushed or unnecessary. In fact, it was the first movie in a long time that displayed aspects of African culture that were unapologetic in their regal attires, colourful rituals and varying languages. Aspects, I hope, that are explored more deeply by Hollywood.