Following the death of his father, Prince T’Challa, our Black Panther, takes his place as the King of Wakanda, a seemingly impoverished third world nation. What the rest of the world doesn’t know is that Wakanda is home to Vibranium; a mineral that not only helps to provide advanced technology in science and medicine, but also produces superhuman powers.
As T’Challa begins his reign, an old enemy resurfaces threatening Wakanda’s secret existence. As the threat increases, family secrets are revealed and T’Challa’s rule and his role as Black Panther are challenged from within as global war beckons.
Chadwick Boseman is the eponymous hero, paired up against Michael B. Jordan’s Erik, a soldier with a mysterious past. Boseman’s thoughtful, noble King is almost upstaged by Jordan’s arrogant, swaggering upstart and the two share a frenetic ritual fight in one of the films many highlights.
Heading up a superb supporting cast including Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Martin Freeman and Daniel Kaluuya are the three female musketeers; Danai Gurira as the head of the elite Royal guard, Lupita Nyong’o’s undercover agent and Letitia Wright, Wakanda’s very own Q to T’Challa’s James Bond. Her cheek and wit, not to mention skill with a weapon, light up the screen whenever she appears.
Same can be said of Winston Duke’s renegade tribal leader, M’Baku. He has the lion’s share of the funny lines and he delivers them perfectly. More of him next time, please.
Andy Serkis is also on top form as South African mercenary, Ulysses Klaue. Free of his mo-cap, Serkis has a blast blasting away, but his introduction feels slightly misguided as it’s perhaps a little too violent.
Director Ryan Coogler doffs his hat to many films in this, his first Marvel journey. A trip to a casino in Korea looks almost identical to the one in Shanghai visited by James Bond in Skyfall, Gandalf’s fall with the Balrog in The Fellowship of the Ring is referenced and there’s much to remind of Avatar, not just the pretty colours.
And the film does indeed look very pretty, even if much of it is computer generated. Waterfalls, magnetically powered monorails and towering towers all look spectacular on the big screen as do the very cool, colourful costumes. This is only Coogler’s third film as a director which is impressive given the scale of the production.
Black Panther is a welcome addition to the Marvel canon. Big, bright and bold it’s a fun ride and I look forward to seeing more of T’Challa and his friends.