Black Panther delivers everything you would want from a superhero movie, decent plot, exciting action scenes, great characters and a few laughs along the way.
For a popcorn movie it also delivers snippets of social commentary along the way about race, colonisation and exploitation. A film not frightened to have us glancing back at history and asking questions. The make believe world of the fictional African nation of Wakanda is the setting for much of the action. A re imagined bit of wishful thinking or what if? An African nation that escaped being robbed of its natural resources and which used its abundance of a powerful resource vibranium, which supplies limitless energy to secretly advance its society through technology. OK vibranium is fictional but if you think about the Democratic Republic of Congo potentially one of the richest countries on earth with its abundance of natural resources and yet how colonialism, slavery and corruption have turned it into one of the poorest.
After the death of his father T’Challa, who has been living in Oakland, California, (coincidentally the place where the radical political Black Panthers movement began in the late 1960s) returns home to take over as king of Wakanda but finds his power challenged by rivals.
Step up Michael B Jordan with a bad ass performance as anti-hero Erik Killmonger. Jordan delivers one of the movie’s killer lines:
I waited my entire life for this. The world’s going to start over, and I’m going to burn it all!
Then there is Ulysses Klaue a deliciously over the top baddie played brilliantly by Andy Serkis.
For the most part the movie looks fantastically visually from the fight challenge scenes between T’Challa and rivals, the crazy atmospheric night-time car chase in Busan, South Korea to the all out war complete with turbo charged monster rhinos.
Black Panther feels ground breaking. A major black super hero at the helm in a largely black cast of characters. African names, costumes, culture, accents. OK Wesley Snipes as Blade, another Marvel Comics creation, did well but not in the same mainstream league as Black Panther which could end up being Marvel’s biggest ever success. Black representation and identity in Hollywood movies and the imagination and lives of non white kids took a turn or two into something different than before.
Black Panther had its European Premiere on a cold, windy February night at the Hammersmith Apollo. It is expected to smash it at the box offices which may shorten the odds of a follow up sequel being a huge summer blockbuster release next time round.
Black Panther is in UK cinemas 13 February 2018