Highly anticipated, and with much riding on its shoulders, Black Panther does not disappoint. This subversive and satisfying addition to the Marvel Universe walks the tightrope between being unafraid and focused on its message(s), while still being inclusive. The irony that this is something that continuously evades much of Hollywood today (#oscarssowhite and #oscarssomale anyone?) is inescapable. This picture proves beyond a shadow of doubt that it’s possible to make a successful film with what many mainstream moviemakers still seem to fear: a non-white majority cast, more than one “strong” female character, and a narrative that unabashedly addresses black rights and other global political issues without a white filter or saviour.
Here is a film that is, on the surface, a perfectly adequate superhero movie. It’s visually stunning, amusing, and chock full of muscly people repeatedly duking it out. It’s well-shot, well-acted, and it’s got a plot that’s not hard to follow. But scratch that surface and it just gets better.
While Michael B Jordan’s villain is unquestionably the bad guy, antagonists and protagonists each have compelling points of view, which often gently echo the current political climate. By allowing audiences to empathise with good sides and bad in Black Panther, the conflict and eventual resolution becomes more than just good entertainment: it’s a powerful argument.
With that said, the feature tries to cover so much ground that some members of the stellar cast are underused. The audiences are left wanting much more of Andy Serkis before the end, however, that is entirely down to his talents as a scene-stealer rather than to any fault in the narrative. Angela Bassett deserves more, and Forrest Whitaker comes and goes like a flash in a pan, giving the impression that some scenes of his were cut, or that the actor merely wanted to have his name attached to the film no matter what the part was. And who can blame him?
The real shame of it is that this movie took so long, so much planning, and so much money to make. Only once Marvel investments became a damn near sure thing did the powers that be dare to go in deep with Black Panther. And the resounding consensus is that it’s about damn time.
Black Panther is released nationwide on 13th February 2018.
Watch the trailer for Black Panther here: