Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station) brings the latest film within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in the form of Black Panther. Returning to the role of T’Challa, now King of Wakanda, is Chadwick Boseman (who will always be Vontae Mack from Draft Day to me).
Set only weeks after the events of Captain America : Civil War, we see T’Challa returning to the nation of Wakanda, an African nation with highly advanced technology – all powered from their abundant levels of Vibranium – sourced from a meteor that hit the earth centuries ago.
As T’Challa takes the throne, they identify that Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) – wanted in the country for previous theft of vibranium – is surfacing in order to make an illegal sale in Korea. In attempting to capture Klaue, the new King finds himself dealing with unexpected challenge to both his crown, and the rest of the world.
His kingdom – The nation of Wakanda – operates in secrecy from the rest of the world, who believe it to be relatively poor. Instead, the nation have successfully developed technology that could dramatically change the fortunes of the rest of the world.
It is in this very notion that Black Panther begins to develop a desire to ‘say something about the world’ more than any other Marvel film to date. In wrestling with the dilemma of revealing its capabilities to the rest of the world, Wakanda would face potential impacts to its own culture from immigration and refugees. The perceived trade off of cultural protectionism versus contribution to humanity, leads to interesting debate and thought provoking moments – especially including the characters of Nakia (Lupita N’Yong) and Erik Stevens (Michael B Jordan).
Aside from its much more noticeable political voice, the film is a far more contained and standalone film than a large number of the previous MCU films. In fact, the roles of Klaus (Andy Serkis) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) are the only other real connections to the previous films.
This sense of a more standalone story is also a hugely positive element for the film. Whereas other films have worked to weave other elements of the MCU through the films, the idea of a more self contained story is a refreshing change.
In terms of other cast, there is an array of talent which includes Angela Basset, Forest Whitaker, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright and Winston Duke.
The film is a rip roaring comic book story which successfully treads a line between superhero action, and an engaging tale of characters wrestling with moral dilemmas. It’s easily one of the best MCU films, and is already on track to be one of the most successful. It doesn’t make many wrong moves at all (although some of the unsteady shots during action sequences were a bit much for me), and these characters will now become a very important element of the Marvel film franchise.