I remember the first word I ever uttered after birth was 'Marvel'... *crickets chirping*
It's alright. Not every joke is a killer. However, I can't say the same about Black Panther. After watching the film, my soul left my body.
As a staunch Marvel comics fan, ever since the first film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (No, we're not counting Fantastic Four), the majestic grandeur only got bigger. It's no surprise that the Infinity Wars is bound to change all that we knew in the last decade, it will also be another chapter for something even bigger. Therefore, it only made sense that the last film before the 'great wave' sum up the splendour of the previous movies and the comics itself.
A story which is more 'coming of age' rather than a superhero origin story, Black Panther is an independent film. With just tiny bits and pieces that tie the film to the MCU, such as Everett Ross and Ulysses Klaue from Captain America: Civil War, the film is a stupendous stand-alone movie.
With its award-winning stellar cast and the talented Ryan Coogler, I'm convinced no one could have justified the comics as well as the African culture better.
Unlike other Marvel films that are set in the either New York, London or some other metropolitan city, Black Panther extensively explores the Wakandan soil. Even with rampaging armoured rhinos, spiritual dream walking and technology that wouldn’t be out of place in a Blade Runner film, Black Panther still manages to bring an undeniable realness to the Marvel movie universe.
Chadwick Boseman follows up a memorable Captain America: Civil War appearance as African ruler T’Challa (and his masked warrior alter ego) with a roaring solo adventure that unleashes James Bond-style spycraft, geopolitics galore and tribal intrigue a la Game of Thrones. Yet while there are plenty of fantastical aspects, Black Panther is extremely grounded, dealing with the consequences of ages-old colonialism and exploring isolationism at a time when actual countries are building borders rather than breaking them down.
And while the debate over better villains has always haunted the MCU, Michael B Jordan as Erik 'Killmonger' isn't out for the destruction of the world but rather to oppress the oppressors and colonize the colonizers. Jordan is scathingly sharp as Killmonger which is why he joins Michael Keaton as perhaps the most significant MCU developments in the past 12 months.
Although Chadwick Boseman's superheroic glory shines through and through, it is the exceptional cast that outshines him. Be it The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira who plays Okoye or Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia, a Wakandan spy and T’Challa’s love interest or even T’Challa’s younger sister Shuri who is played by Letitia Wright, it is these strong female characters that actually uplift the stature of the Black Panther.
Despite all that, Black Panther finally brings in a black superhero not as a side-kick (Falcon) or as someone of a painted colour (Gamora) but as a fierce kickass lead. that has been due for far too long!
However, with Black Panther's inclusion in the MCU, it makes one wonder if any mutants a.k.a X-Men students, or rather, Storm will make an appearance? (For the laymen, Storm was Black Panther's love interest). Imagine having that cross-over and adding a whole lot of crazy, i.e. Deadpool in the mix!
Well, the comics have done it. Is it time for the cinematic universe too?
Regardless, Black Panther is a unique and wonderful narrative that one often forgets just how wonderfully crafted the actual action sequences are in the film, as well as the absolutely stunning visual effects. Add on top what is perhaps the best cast to grace an MCU film yet, and you have a completely stunning achievement in blockbuster filmmaking. An achievement that will send ripples within the film community for decades to come. Black Panther is everything a blockbuster should be, pertinent, important, entertaining, beautiful and any other positive adjective you can levy at it, Black Panther has it in spades.