“So this is a sequel to Pink Panther, right?” said my soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend, trying to be funny. I sighed.
For those of you after the further adventures of Inspector Clouseau, you may be a bit disappointed here. But for fans of great superhero action films – and easy routes into the sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe – then Black Panther is your boy.
I’ll admit upfront that I’ve not read many Black Panther comics, but as usual with Marvel movies, that’s not an issue. Like with Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel have taken a lesser-known comic and created a hugely accessible onscreen adaptation.
Black Panther opens by explaining stylishly and briefly, the origins of Wakanda – a highly secretive African nation, who, unknown to the rest of the world, are sat on a mountain of pure Vibranium. For those of you not paying full attention in Captain America (I know I know, I get distracted by Chris Evans as well), Vibranium is the MCU’s strongest metal – used to make Cap’s super shield and apparently its ore can power advanced technology. And weapons.
I think you can probably guess how the plot goes from here. There is a bit more to it, but what I will say is that the story is simple, yet effective, and again it’s accessible. It allows for fun to be had with the characters, and for us to get to know them as we’ve heard, they’ll be featuring in Avengers: Infinity War.
Chadwick Boseman plays the title role of Black Panther, aka T’Challa – Wakanda’s king and protector. Boseman makes being super look incredibly easy, cool and sexy in a strong and silent way. We first saw him inherit the chiefdom of his homeland back in Captain America: Civil War and have a kick ass action sequence with Bucky and Captain America.
Now in his own film with a predominately black cast, he commands the role of King T’Challa while not having a lot of dialogue at all. His presence, and actions speak for themselves. Michael B. Jordan as his rival is perfect. Now, this is not to say that his performance of Erik ‘Killmonger’ Stevens isn’t as cool as sexy, because he nails both of these aspects! Jordan clearly got jacked for the role, and looks amazingly different from his role of Johnny Storm in the ill-fated Fantastic Four reboot. Yep, that was him.
As a Brit, it’s hard not to secretly squeal inside when someone from the British small screen appears in a Marvel film. So when Letitia Wright and Daniel Kaluuya appeared there was no holding back. I will proudly state that I have a mega girl crush on Wright ever since I saw her in Banana (E4) and Humans (Channel 4).
There’s so much innocence about her performance as the T’Challa’s younger sister Shuri, that it makes you want to wrap her in cotton wool. But she’s got a kick-ass side too, as she’s essentially T’Challa’s “Q”, with a range of ultra high tech toys locked away in her lab.
All the female cast members in this film aren’t just extremely talented, but their characters are strong. They equally matched any male they come across and for me, stole the show. I mean, an all female guard protects T’Challa. How AWESOME is that? Danai Gurira as General Okoye is insanely good and her eyebrows will be memed hard.
I always worry if these solo superhero stories are strong or interesting enough to carry a whole film, but the world of Black Panther is a glorious one. And one of which I very much wanted to be a part. I want to be Wakandan.
Going to the European Premiere in London was such an uplifting experience. Seeing such a diverse cast stood in front of us was impressive. The reactions to each cast member being announced and walking out on stage was powerful. People were on their feet giving a standing ovation before the movie even started but we all knew this time Marvel had presented something special. And about time too.
Black Panther is a plain inspiring movie. My hope is that its inevitable success not only results in increased BAME roles across the board, but also that Marvel’s bosses at Disney seriously consider their record on LGBT representation. With the character of Iceman coming out in an X-Men comic, and the recent fan outcry over the lack of romance between Finn and Poe in The Last Jedi, or indeed any LGBT characters of note in all of Star Wars and the MCU, Black Panther‘s message of equality and inclusion is a great and promising start, but just that – a start.
I’d be a great Pink Panther. Just saying.
Comic Book Profile
Alias: King T’Challa of Wakanda, aka The Black Panther
Fantastic Four (briefly along with his wife Storm. Long story, but they had vacancies.
Powers: As king, the Black Panther possesses the power of the mystical Panther God, the protector of Wakanda, granted them enhanced speed, strength, agility, senses and healing powers. These powers are pass to the chieftain of the clan by eating a sacred heart shaped herb, native only to Wakanda.
Did you know?
T’Challa married Ororo Munroe, better known as Storm from the superhero mutant team known as the X-Men. They married in 2006 and both took Captain America’s side in the super hero Civil War. However, during the Avengers vs X-Men storyline, T’Challa and Storm found themselves on opposite sides, and their marriage was annulled. I’m hoping – now that the X-Men are soon to find themselves in the MCU – we’ll see this union on screen. FINGERS CROSSED