Review: Marvel’s Black Panther

Movies

He isn’t the Pink Panther’s evil cousin, he’s King of the African Nation of Wakanda and your new favourite superhero. 

Sarah McKinley 21/03/18

Released 12th February, director Ryan Coogler’s exhilarating sci-fi is breaking box office records at… well… a record breaking rate!

Chadwick Boseman stars as T’Challa, the Mandella-esque royal who returns to Wakanda as heir to the throne when his father dies.

Wakanda is ancient and futuristic all at once and has a huge secret – masses of the inconceivably powerful metal ‘Vibranium’. The Wakandans use it for their ultra-high-tech society, infrastructure and even the Black Panther’s invincible armours. They keep all this hidden from the rest of the world though, with outsiders thinking they are a nation of sheep farmers with funky outfits.

A white underground arms dealer Klaw catches wind of this and steals some. It’s thus the Black Panther’s first mission to retrieve it flanked by the General of Wakanda (his sister, Okoye) and accomplished operative Nakia… who also happens to be his old flame. Would it really be an action movie if an epic car chase didn’t ensue?

Next enemy to enter the ring is Michael B Jordan’s character “Killmonger”. I’ll not spoil the show by detailing his family tree or what happens next. What I will tell you is that he challenges for the throne and aims to use Vibranium on a global scale to free his oppressed race and destroy the oppressors. Jordan’s passionate acting couldn’t be faulted, although the hundreds of raised scars all over his body made me shudder and recoil into my seat at first.

This Marvel-lous film combines familiar elements like a substance reminiscent of Superman’s plutonium, an ancestral plane like the Lion King (I was expecting Rafiki to step out), a magical healing flower like Disney’s Tangled, 007-like casino shoot outs… But this movie was still one of a kind.

Very serious themes were embedded in a subtle way. Corruption and the rich guarding their riches while the poor are trapped in the shackles of poverty was a main focus.

White supremacy was evident with the whites being called “colonisers” and a white villain coming in to steal the riches saying to the Wakundans he “didn’t think you savages deserved it”.

To balance this heavy content, the vibrant costumes, powerful music that transports you to another continent and a few one liners courtesy of instantly likeable Shuri (Letitia Wright) and unlikely ally, CIA’s Mr. Ross (Martin Freeman) keep the more serious undertones from becoming overwhelming.

Danai Gurira’s character Okoye led the king’s armour-clad army of women with their beautifully sculpted athletic frames and enviably solid shoulders. This troop should be hired for positive female body image campaigns like “do it like a girl” or “strong not skinny”.

Political statements aside, there remains an obvious but burning question: Does this great cat have 9 lives?

Go treat yourself to the 1hour45minute holiday to Wakunda to find out…

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