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Black Panther: Review

Black Panther deserves every ounce of acclaim it receives. After anticipation was built to see Black Panther in his first solo outing after his scene-stealing debut in Captain America: Civil War, Marvel assembles Ryan Coogler and a phenomenal cast to bring us the 18th instalment in their Cinematic Universe, and it really does pay off.

The film is historic not only for Marvel, but for all genres of cinema; for its brilliant all-black cast, incredible Afro-futurism visuals and sincere story. The film marks a huge milestone for representation, with numerous complex female characters at the forefront of the cast.

Black Panther deserves every ounce of acclaim it receives.

Image credit: Getty images

The issues that  the story explores are genuinely thought-provoking, causing you to contemplate the risks of diplomacy and political integration for Wakanda. The film has a huge amount of heart, respect for Africa and its culture, and you can feel the care and vision that has gone into every aspect of it. Black Panther shows the prospect of rich African culture untouched by white colonialism (albeit with fictionalised technological wealth), and it is delicious to watch. Ryan Coogler proved that he was able to integrate racial politics into established franchises, with outstanding results, in Creed and he has done it again with Black Panther.

The plot picks us after the events of Civil War. T’Challa must return to the long isolated, but technologically superior, Wakanda to claim his place as King. The nation faces exposure and the loss of everything their rulers have fought to protect, as T’Challa’s mantle of both king and his role as the protector, Black Panther, are tested.

The film is historic not only for Marvel, but for all genres of cinema; for its brilliant all-black cast, incredible Afro-futurism visuals and sincere story

Chadwick Boseman’s performance is exceptionally powerful as T’Challa. He charges the role with emotion, rage and a balance of wisdom, inexperience and morality that makes him a worthy king. There is already an eagerness to see him take the stage again in Avengers: Infinity War.

Michael B. Jordan’s villain is a perfect counterpart. He feels refreshingly justified, and Killmonger is  driven with purpose and seems truly dangerous and unstoppable. The secondary villain, Klaw (Andy Serkis) stands out with a memorable, unsettlingly joyful performance.

Black Panther in Civil War. Image credit: Getty Images

The film boasts an unfailingly strong cast, with no truly small parts – which helps to bring these lesser-known characters alive. The characters are incredibly well realised, obliging us to care for them and feel as if we know them in no time at all. The various characters’ relationships and histories are convincing and actualised.

Women especially steal the show throughout Black Panther. T’Challa and his sister Shuri have a great dynamic, and Letita Wright’s performance is a pleasure. Danai Gurira’s Okoye, the General of the Dora Milajie (the King’s Guard), is bold, brave and unfalteringly loyal. Other notable performances come from Daniel Kaluuya, Forest Whitaker and Angela Basset.

There is already an eagerness to see [Black Panther] take the stage again in Avengers: Infinity War

The film’s score captures the vibrancy of African culture, and vividly builds an immersive environment, whilst packing all the superhero theme punch you hope for. The soundtrack stands out as very authentic and is one of Marvel’s best to date – competing with that of Iron Man’s rock style and, of course, Guardians of the Galaxy.

The film is wonderfully colourful, and the cinematography does impress. Some of CGI fell short and became noticeable at times – but alongside the moments of beautiful visuals where Black Panther and other characters shine on screen, the cinematography still stands out. Combined with the outstanding costume design, warrior combat stunt-work, well-researched tribal rituals and visual design, Wakanda feels immensely real.

Black Panther, like Iron Man 10 years ago, will be long remembered as one of the prize properties and landmarks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not only do you leave the cinema caring profoundly for Wakanda, but you feel compelled to devout loyalty to its king, for whom you’d gladly bend a knee.

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