Returning from the events of ‘Captain America: Civil War’, T’Challa aka Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) returns to his kingdom of Wakanda. Hidden behind a forcefield, Wakanda is technologically advanced paradise, which utilises an extraterrestrial substance known as vibranium to power its development. However, others too have learnt of this mineral’s power and Wakanda may not be hidden for too much longer, relying upon the Black Panther for its safety.
'...is a movie that has rung the changes not only for audiences but also for Hollywood itself.'
Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ has become both a cinematic and cultural phenomenon. Boasting a predominantly black cast in a lavish origin story, this is a movie that has rung the changes not only for audiences but also for Hollywood itself.
With Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa / Black Panther and Michael Jordan as Erik Killmonger, the cast is blessed veteran talents as Angela Bassett as queen Ramonda and Forest Whitaker as statesman Zuri. Set against them, Andy Serkis’s ams-trader Ulysses Klaue offers real menace and bite to every scene he’s in as does Dana Gurira’s Okoye as captain of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s all-female special forces and bodyguards to T’Challa. And this is where the real difference can be seen between this and Marvel’s earlier adaptations.
For whilst ‘Black Panther’s’ principal plot line follows a challenge to the throne set against an invasion (much like ‘Thor’s’ feuding Shakespearian storyline), ‘Black Panther’ is actually more about the girls than the boys. None more so is this exemplified than in Letitia Wright’s Shuri (T’Challa’s 16-year-old sister who designs Wakanda’s new technology). Breaking out of the stiff confines of the boy’s main plot line, Shuri and Dana Gurira’s Okoye are seriously entertaining in what becomes a pro feminist subtext that nearly eclipses the men and also gives Patty Jenkin’s ’Wonder Woman’ a run for her money.
With its strong female characters and rich visuals, ‘Black Panther’ is a film that eventually overcomes its slightly portentous plot and delivers feel-good escapism wrapped in a progressive package. With a sequel near-guaranteed after this movie’s success, it will be interesting to see where Marvel take T’challa, freed from an introductory origin story.