Black Panther, Marvel’s latest release directed by Ryan Coogler, adds a new sense of diversity to the franchise. For the first time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe a film features a black protagonist, and a plethora of black female talent who defy stereotypes; adding to the diversity of the film.
Entering the film with high hopes, I found the opening scene to be poorly lit, and although I could make out the activity on screen it was a struggle. Considering the budget, I feel more attention could have been placed on the lighting, so the fight sequences weren’t so difficult to follow. Another gripe about the fight scenes is in the editing, as it was so rapid and, again, hard to follow at some points. I realise this is done to add tension; however, if you can’t tell who has hit whom, or even who is winning, all tension is lost to confusion.
The challenge sequences for the position of King of Wakanda were filmed brilliantly. They were still fast paced, but not so fast you lose all sense of which character is which and compared to the start they were well lit, so you could see what was happening. In my humble opinion this was the best fight scene in the film. There were some impressive aerial shots that showed the dynamic of the fight, as well as the surrounding area, so the audience could really get a sense of location and the danger involved.
Andy Serkis reprising of his role as Ulysees Klaue was fantastic. His character remained witty, and he has a rather nifty new arm after the events of Age of Ultron. Michael B. Jordan’s Eric Killmonger was menacing, slightly crazed, but still in control of his emotions for the most part. Killmonger was a black ops soldier, with hundreds of kills to his name which he commemorates with scarification over his body. Fair warning: if you suffer from trypophobia be prepared for when Killmonger takes his shirt off. His character didn’t have much development, making him yet another Marvel villain to be added to the one-shot wonder pile *cough* Ultron *cough* Malekith. However, I feel Killmonger would have made an excellent addition to Infinity War.
T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, remains the same formulaic superhero that we met in Civil War. His backstory is revealed to make him more engaging than a Tony Start-esque hero, having to earn the right to be the Black Panther rather than simply having the finances to support him. There was significant character development, and T’Challa learns to do what is best for his people, rather than following in the footsteps of prior kings.
Letitia Wright played Shuri, T’Challa’s sister. Shuri has high levels of intelligence and shows remarkable ingenuity in creating the tech for Black Panther and others. Danai Gurira and the Dora Milaje certainly don’t take a backseat either, actively taking part in Black Panther’s missions, and are adept with their weaponry, and fight for their nation. They mirror the Valkyries in Thor: Ragnarok, yet they are active and integral to the stability of Wakanda.
Overall, I really enjoyed the film. Marvel followed its recent pattern and couldn’t keep a serious moment serious, but it could be argued that Black Panther is the sister film to Ragnarok – Ragnarok containing heavy themes of colonialism with the story of Hela and Odin seizing control of the Nine Realms. In opposition to this, Wakanda has never been colonised, and the film is about the Wakandans attempting to protect their culture from a monopolised world. I would recommend this film to anyone, a Marvel fan or not, as the film does not require prior knowledge of the universe to be able to enjoy it.