There are many ways to describe the many movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: intelligent, humorous, thematic, ground-breaking, and—occasionally—disappointing (looking at you, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Thor: Ragnarok).
But with Black Panther the word you’re looking for is ‘beautiful’ and even ‘surreal’.
Much has been made of the racial representation and its power in the movie, and the hype is real. Black Panther is proudly African and it doesn’t forget the global presence of the African people with a plot that places much stock in gaining true equality without gunning for superiority.
Stating that Black Panther echoes the best of Shakespearean drama, or even Greek epics, would not be an exaggeration by any means. Very quickly, its sense of spirituality and setting evokes The Lion King, itself an adaptation of Hamlet, while also inspiring a sense of awe during an exposition-filled narration that never feels like it was written purely for the sake of story convenience.
Impressively, the script at no point overpowers the base story while also making space for the introduction and utility of a full supporting cast. Packed with bold and strong female characters, the script does them no disservice by allowing the characters to stay front and centre with Black Panther without resorting to compromising their individual personalities or motives.
A lot of this can be largely attributed to the cast’s easy chemistry with each other, and even names like Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett do not overshadow relative newcomers such as… well, everyone else. Lead, Chadwick Boseman, builds a fun persona for the character despite retaining the visage of a burdened king, and easily supersedes his performance in Captain America: Civil War.
Black Panther also holds the inspiring record for the most number of actually significant and consequential female characters. Between Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett, and the movie-stealing Letitia Wright, Black Panther is easily the most feminist movie in the superhero library as well.
A surprising strength of this movie, however, is the soundtrack by Ludwig Goransson in conjunction with Kendrick Lamar. Emphasising the intensity and heavy emotional moments of the story, it adds to the surreal theatricality of the narrative, often surpassing the regular expectations of a superhero movie.
The greatest aspect of the film, however, is how it manages to convey a coherent tale without being bogged down by the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s baggage of 10 years of history. Even Civil War, which marks Black Panther’s debut, is hardly necessary viewing with very well-placed exposition. This is further executed by the movie’s lack of unnecessary cameos that would usually be employed to pander to fans, or any Infinity Stone mumbo jumbo.
Black Panther is out in theatres on the 13th of February and is a must watch!