There’s nothing wrong with being late to the party when it comes to a film review. Sure, no one will read my review, but I don’t write to be read. I write because I like it. Black Panther has been a huge target of discussion around the world. People love it, people hate it and people love to hate it. It’s a fantastic film, focussing on the beautiful culture of the country Wakanda. The film is a fantastic addition to the MCU and provides a fantastic insight into King T’Challas life and how the Black Panther came to be.
What is it about the MCU that keeps us thirsting for more? Marvel combines both well known and relatively unknown actors to bring a spectacle of action, comedy and brilliant storytelling to the big screen. Chadwick Boseman returns as the Black Panther but is unfortunately let down by a script that often plays him as distracted and weak and not the powerful ruler he was raised to be. Michael B. Jordan plays the son of the now deceased King T’Chakkas brother, growing up on the streets, forced to live through a world where racism and prejudice is rife all whilst knowing of the power of the Wakanda people. This creates a deep hatred for the way Wakanda is run and provides one of the main themes of the film.
The film is beautifully shot and spans multiple regions, from Korea to the deserts of Africa and of course the technologically advanced city of Wakanda. Accompanied by a fantastic soundtrack, and featuring many moments of the deeply rich culture that the people of Wakanda have preserved through their reclusive life. The film introduces a whole host of new characters that held their own alongside the King; Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead’s Michonne) plays the fearsome warrior and general of the Wakanda people and is as key a character as MBJ’s Erik Killmonger, or Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa. It’s refreshing to see a director utilise such a talented person in what could have easily been an undervalued role. Lusitania Nyong’o plays the love interest turned spy turned freedom fighter that plays a pivotal part in the Black Panther story. Both of these roles which could have easily been resorted to being played around a male, instead had a fierce independence that carried itself admirably through the film.
Although brilliant, Black Panther does have some major faults and unfortunately hold it back from being a truly great film. First and foremost was the seemingly unnecessary part that Martin Freeman played (what a terrible accent). The film is dominated by the Wakanda people and their culture but for some reason Martin Freeman was in the film. It felt obtrusive and almost like a chuck in to ensure there was a white person, and although useless throughout the film he ended up being essential in saving the day. Yes, it represents the bigger picture of reuniting Wakanda with the outside world, but it seemed unnecessary and forced.
The other blaring issue I had was the weak backstory of the long lost cousin turned temporary king of Wakanda, Erik. He was raised on the streets and trained himself to become an ultimate killer to take the throne. But it still seems ridiculous that he was able to best T’Challa in single combat. T’Challa is the Black Panther and has trained his whole life for combat and the throne. This takes some creative difference from the path the comics took, and seems cheap. More time could have been spent developing Killmonger and less on characters like Everett.
All in all, the film is fantastic. It has its drawbacks but is well worth the watch and is a fantastic addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Both powerful in the film sense and also culturally it is awesome to see Marvel take such a leap forward both politically and socially. I urge all people yet to see it, go to the cinemas and watch it. Support a film that strives to be different and supports a people that have so long been held down by society.