Marvel’s Black Panther is a different beast from previous Marvel super heroes. It’s British counterpart, ‘Albino Ferret’, was a pale imitation being as it was about a field dwelling weasel only able to ever to blend in with its surroundings when it had snowed and out to avenge being ambushed by a gang of psychotic field mice fuelled by radioactive granola bars ………(What are you on about, you idiot? You’re fired! – Ed).
Black Panther is one of the most distinctive looking Marvel comic book adaptations yet combining stunning African locations, high tech futurism with a nearly all black cast. Now the newer Marvel films are less well known to audiences the origins to Black Panther are laid out in a nifty eye catching intro before we are transported to Wakanda a secret metropolis hidden from the outside world. It’s a technology driven world light years ahead of the rest of the world and keen to remain out of sight not only due to its hi tech but also its immense supplies of an unpronounceable metal ore. Wakanda is a country ruled by T’Challa (Chadwik Boseman), who despite his name is not from the North of England, is Black Panther pumped to the max with fighting prowess yet also with a wise head on his shoulders to realise the responsibility he has.
The film’s mythology has anyone able allowed to challenge for the Black Panther mantle should T’Challa accept and there are several fights on a stunning plateau above a waterfall where contenders fight it out. As might be expected T’Challa prevails and keeps the Black Panther fancy dress outfit and it’s his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) in what is a nod to Bond’s gadget master Q who invents all the best gadgets as well as many of the best lines in the script too.
The script co-written by director Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole has several well made and pointed jibes about colonialism. It even has a perhaps unintended dig at hard line Brexiteers view of immigration, ‘You bring the refugees and they bring their problems with them’. Many of the best Marvel films have a decent story with good characters that you are rooting for and whilst the story is nothing to write home about it does have some good supporting characters. Most notable is T’Challa’s top bodyguard, Okoye brilliantly played by Danai Gurira as a spear wielding fight to the death warrior. In her, female empowerment excels. Forget Girl Power here is a woman who is every bit as good if not better than many of her male counterparts. A spin off standalone film surely beckons.
Those male counterparts include the always great Andy Serkis who for once isn’t mo-capping and is in top pantomime villain mode as Ulysses, a vowel mangling South African lunatic. Into the monstrous mix is thrown Michael B Jordan as the less than subtly monikered Erik Killmonger (who presumably has a mate called Derek DeathDealer and a friend called Billy Biteyerbollocksoff). Jordan plays the cousin T’Challa never knew he had but if there’s a weakness it’s his back story which is light on explaining the hate filled power crazed egotist he ‘s become.
After the blaxploitation films of the seventies Black Panther is a refreshing answer to the OscarsTooWhite campaign we saw a few years ago. Apart from Martin Freeman and Serkis this is an all black cast diverse in cultural references that espouses empowerment not just for race but for women too. The film can’t help but fall into the inevitable CGI laden climatic battle with rampaging rhinos and is light on action set pieces too which may disappoint some. That aside this is a good standalone Marvel film which creates its own universe without the need for other characters from the Marvel cannon making cameo’s.
……and yes, there is a mid and post credit sequence with the final scene featuring an unexpected character.
Here’s the trailer……
*See the cast at the European premiere on the AnyGoodFilms YouTube channel*