Black Panther is helmed by African-American director Ryan Coogler, who’s previously tackled race in Fruitvale Station (2013) that chronicled police brutality. With his superhero venture, Coogler uses Black Panther as a metaphor to celebrate African pride and inclusion. It’s a stark difference from the Americana-loving skew we’ve been subjected to in the past. For instance, the film’s tribes revel in their ethnicity, wearing it on their oh-so-traditional and vibrant sleeves. And the amount of shade hurled at the white man feels appropriately provocative; from calling them colonisers to snide comments about their apparent inabilities.
Coogler’s protagonist is powerful but only because of the women in his life. Black Panther’s bodyguards are an all-women special unit and their general Okoye (Danai Gurira), is fierce, slaying throughout in style: whether beating up the bad guys in armoured uniform or during a high-speed car chase in a floor-length gown. Then there’s T’Challa’s 16-year-old sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), a tech wiz who powers all of Wakanda.
Marvel’s Black Panther seamlessly straddles being a blockbuster while tackling important issues of gender and race. Like all Marvel outings, the action is jaw-dropping, the humour is cheeky, and the special effects, top-notch. The staggering cast comes together to lift the film with brilliant performances. The score, provided by Ludwig Göransson has everything from tribal percussive soundscapes to banging tehno tunes, completely intensifying everything that’s happening on the screen. Side note: Kendrick Lamar’s curated sountrack is spectacular as is Run The Jewels’ ‘Legend Has It’ in the film’s trailer. One viewing later, it’s evident Black Panther is a gift that keeps on giving and I can’t wait to watch it again.
Unlike Wonder Woman, who stole the show in Batman Vs Superman, Black Panther didn’t make much of an impact in Captain America: Civil War. Especially since it follows hot on the heels of the hilarious magnum opus Thor Ragnarok. It picks up right after Black Panther aka T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) loses his father in Civil War. He’s returned to Wakanda to assume the throne but his reign is brought to an abrupt end by Killmonger (Michael B. Jordon — an oft Coogler collaborator). The antagonist, suffering years of racial subjugation, wants to end Wakanda’s isolation by using her weapons against oppressors all over the world. When civil unrest breaks out in the peaceful African nation, T’Challa must fight for the crown.