by Lachlan Anderson
Rated M. Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan. Directed by Ryan Coogler.
“It’s hard for a good man to be a king.”
Marvel kicks off 2018 with the first of many super-cine outings this year, Black Panther. Ryan Coogler’s film dives a little deeper into the character, introduced in Captain America: Civil War, and his mysterious African nation. Subversive in its casting, script and execution, Marvel have taken yet another daring but positive step as they continue to dominate the blockbuster terrain.
After the death of his father, T’Challa (Boseman) is crowned king of Wakanda, a secretive and highly advanced African nation, due to immense deposits of the marvel-metal Vibranium in the country. His rule is met with opposition on many sides, including friends and old enemies who include weapons dealer Ulysses Klaue (Serkis) and American Erik Kilmonger (Jordan), who has a grudge with the Wakandan throne.
Coogler has to do a lot of world-building and his Wakanda is an exciting mix of sci-fi rooted in African tribal elements. Despite only a couple other films under his belt he guides the action and spectacle well, not really rewriting the book in the way Taika Waititi managed in Thor: Ragnarok, but convention serves him well. A few nods to Bond films are enjoyable as is a prolonged casino and chase sequence in the neon-laced Busan, Korea.
Black Panther is also blessed with a stellar cast which includes Angela Bassett, Forrest Whittaker, Lupita Nyong’o and newly Oscar nominated Daniel Kaluuya alongside its two leads Boseman and Jordan. The quiet regality of the former faces off well with the brazen anger of the latter. It’s no small thing that in a movie of this size the vast majority of the cast is of African descent, and hopefully the trend continues toward diversity. The filmmakers use the opportunity to entertain but also to make a social statement when necessary.
T’Challa is king of a country blessed beyond belief, yet it borders so many that have such strife and hardship. Kilmonger represents the African-American community as well, and harbours resentment for the wrongs he has seen done to his people his whole life.
Coogler does call to question why such a country would not do more to benefit the world beyond its borders. As a people set apart, those who have Christ as their king are in a similar situation. He did not close his borders, but willingly opened the way to the greatest kingdom. And so we become a new nation, which through the spiritual riches we have, can bless the world and call more into the kingdom.
The Verdict: Whilst offering little in rewriting the book on action blockbuster films, Black Panther is nonetheless an enjoyable joyride with plenty of banter and spectacle to highlight the boldness of its casting, script and devotion to championing diversity in our storytelling. 3.5/5
Black Panther is in cinemas now.