Black Panther review: Chadwick Boseman, Ryan Coogler, Michael B Jordan and Kendrick Lamar – come together to create a different superhero film you have seen.
Director – Ryan Coogler
Cast – Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forewst Whitaker.
After an animated introduction to the fictional African kingdom of Wakanda, Black Panther opens in Oakland in 1992. This may seem an odd choice, but it is in fact quite apt. The film’s director, Ryan Coogler, got his start in the city, having been born there in 1986. His filmmaking career has its roots there, too, as it was the setting for his debut feature, Fruitvale Station.
Black Panther is a film that is as much about respecting the past as it is about embracing the future. So it begins with a story, about Wakanda, a fictional African nation hidden away from the world, behind impenetrable rainforests and unconquerable mountains, uncolonised, unchained.
Black Panther is Marvel continuing what films like the last couple of Captain America movies, and even Thor: Ragnarok, to an extent, started; I dare say, for over an hour, it is barely even a superhero movie. But this is just what Marvel needed at this stage in their industry-altering and blazingly ambitious series of interconnected movies. True, there is a lot here that seems signature Marvel – most depressingly, they’ve once again fallen in the trap of pitting the hero against a beefier version of himself, and the action is Marvel action, which means a lot of quick cuts and very little sense – but there is more that seems unlike anything we’ve seen in a movie before, let alone a Marvel film.
Black Panther is a movie that is a melding of two very different kinds of cultures, both black, but from either ends of the world. And in an unusual turn of events for a series that has a near-perfect hit rate, the villain this time is not one you’re likely to forget anytime soon. He is the manifestation of this clash of cultures, torn between two homes, two identities, burdened by the past of his ancestors, and worried about the future of his people.
This is Jordan’s third film with director Ryan Coogler, who I’ve saved for last. There is not enough that can be said about what he has achieved with this film. Better minds will continue writing about it for years. They will make videos about this movie, it will be discussed among friends of all ages, all races, all shapes and sizes; it will be taught in school, debated among intellectuals, it will be seen as the moment everything changed.