A Strong Start to 2018 for the MCU
Written by: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole.
Directed by: Ryan Coogler.
Starring: Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa / Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan as N’Jadaka / Erik “Killmonger” Stevens, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi, Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross, Winston Duke as M’Baku, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue and Forest Whitaker as Zuri
Black Panther Synopsis
After the death of his father, T’Challa returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king — and as Black Panther — gets tested when he’s drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people.
Following on from the light-hearted romps that made up the MCU last year, Black Panther comes along and reminds us that the franchise can be dark, it can be gritty, and it can combine comedic elements with its more serious stories seamlessly when it puts its mind to it.
Last seen in Captain America: Civil War, we re-join T’challa not long after that films conclusion. He’s about to be made king and he’s apprehensive about what that means and what the future of his country, Wakanda, holds. On top of that, he’s struck with a disturbing secret from his now deceased fathers past that threatens to alter everything.
First up, the cast. Chadwick Boseman is once again superb in the lead role. He plays T’challa with a degree of calmness that really makes him feel like a real and well-rounded character. But the surprise here is just how well everyone else does. Some characters don’t get quite as much attention as they deserve (there are two romance plots that feel a little shoehorned in) but when it comes to the people playing these roles- they all do superb work. Danai Gurira has shown what she can do on The Walking Dead (a show she is now so much better than), she brings a whole new level to her performance here and steals many scenes she’s in. Andy Serkis is another highlight. He reprises his role as Ulysses Klaue from Avengers: Age of Ultron and is clearly having a ball in the role. Always an underrated actor, he brings life and comedy to the role here and he’s another scene stealer. Props too to Martin Freeman. He is able to turn his character from an unlikable smug man to someone I found myself truly rooting for. Best of the bunch for me though is Letitia Wright as Shuri, in fact I think she could well be one of my favourite characters in the whole MCU so far. She’s a delight every single time I saw her and I really hope her role continues to develop as the franchise continues.
Now, about the villain. The MCU has almost always had a villain problem (one not exclusive to the MCU to be fair). The list of memorable villains for me only really consists of Loki and Vulture (Spiderman: Homecoming), now though- Killmonger can be added to that short list. His backstory isn’t overly original, but thanks to the always dependable Michael B Jordan he is utterly compelling. The performance here sells it and I found myself feeling sympathy for him despite the things he was doing. Hell, there were even times that I was rooting for him. That doesn’t happy very often and I’ve got to give the film credit for pulling it off.
Onto Wakanda, this is a fully realised and fascinating place to spend time. It was so much bigger than I expected and I’m excited to rewatch this (in 4k) to see all the details about I may have missed. It does however lead me on to a fault with the film. The CGI here isn’t always as great as it could be. There were numerous times when I felt I was watching actors perform against green screen and the mountain location was one of the more notable. It wouldn’t be such an issue if this wasn’t a prominent location that is used repeatedly for some of the movies biggest moments. There’s other instances too where Black Panther’s ideas aren’t realised as well as I’m sure they hoped. It doesn’t ruin the film by any means, but it is disappointing when lesser movies have managed better. All in all though, this was a delightful movie and my favourite entry in the MCU since Guardians of the Galaxy.
Director Ryan Coogler continues to bring the goods to the work he does and I can’t wait to see what he does next. Even more so I can’t wait to see what Black Panther does next. Now, onto Avengers: Infinity War in just two months’ time.
The MCU kicks off its biggest year yet with one of its best movies. Black Panther is a perfectly cast and wonderfully written story that is only let down slightly by some questionable CGI.(4.5 / 5)