The latest Marvel film, and the last to come out before the cumulative Avengers: Infinity War, has recently been released to rave reviews. A lot of people are calling Black Panther not only the best film from the Avengers series but the best film from the whole superhero genre. We had to see for ourselves if it stood up to the hype and went along to the cinema to see it.
Excellent news that Black Panther is a brand new character coming into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’re already on Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and probably Iron Man 8 by now so a fresh story is always welcomed. And it’s hella fresh, being completely different from what we’ve seen before. There are throwbacks to the Avengers style with big set-piece battles and a reoccurring character in Andy Serkis’ crazed gun runner Ulysses Klaue, but the characters, story, and issues are not something we’ve seen before.
First of all, this is the first MCU movie to feature a black main character and an almost all black cast (Seriously, what’s taken them so long?) but it’s not just a gimmick. The story of Black Panther revolves specifically around the culture and shared experiences of the black population. Chadwick Boseman’s King T’Challa aka Black Panther chooses to change the age-old ideals of his people for the better.
Set in a central African country, it showcases the tradition of tribal kings, cultural dress, and honour while juxtaposing it with a futuristic city, high tech gadgets, and a rebellious princess that acts like the king’s Q from James Bond. A message that says Africans are not what you stereotypically think they are. This crossover of culture gets a little racist sometimes like when the most advanced city in Africa has banana leaf roofs on its skyscrapers, but as a whole, it is promising and empowering.
The film also scores points for feminism having a mass of bad ass women. Our one male hero is rescued time and time again by the three main female leads. As well as the aforementioned sister, we also get to see Danai Gurira as General Okoye, leader of the all-female royal guard. Our favourite character in the whole film, Okoye’s devotion to her country and fierce spear fighting is an extreme pleasure to watch, and it combines amazingly with her wise rounded character. The final battle is brought to a climactic end utilising both her compassion and face smashing ability. The third of the trio is spymaster Nakia played by Lupita Nyong’o who goes from a glamorous night out to South Korean street racing in less than a second. Not what we were expecting.
What makes Black Panther’s story so much better than what we’ve seen in other Marvel movies is that its main antagonist is not bad for the sake of being bad. Michael B. Jordan is fantastic as Killmonger. He’s trying to do good and get revenge for crimes against his people in the only way he knows how…killing. It is a believable motive true to the character and not just driven by insanity or perceived personal injustice. We’re looking at you, Loki. And why does Red Skull want to rule the world? Is that ever made clear?
Black Panther’s story and message are awesome. It’s a real triumph in inclusiveness and diversity. Disney should just buy everything right now. Is it the best Marvel movie? We say it is due to its fresh emotive story while keeping that impressive colossal spectacle that we expect of the MCU. Is it the best superhero movie? Possibly.
Like all superhero movies, it is still being held back by the deus ex mechina of super-powered people. Having the hero wear a suit that can’t be damaged in any way kind of takes the tension and excitement out of anything he does. That being said, we can’t wait to see what happens when you put fish-out-of-water Black Panther in with the established Avengers in Infinity War.