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WEEKEND WEB: Marvel ‘master stroke’ for Panther

GAVIN MILLER writes an exclusive review of the new groundbreaking Marvel movie BLACK PANTHER.

Black Panther could just prove to be the most iconic superhero movie ever made – on multiple groundbreaking levels.

It’s not only the first major blockbuster to headline with a black superhero, but (which makes it different from Blade) also has a predominantly black cast, which has already given Ryan Coogler’s (Creed) acclaimed film a revolutionary status.

About time, and rightly so.

Building on the success of Wonder Woman, it also adds another rung to a more female prominence in Hollywood by showcasing the talents of the Black Panther’s (Chadwick Boseman) love interest, kick-ass spy Nakia (12 Years a Slave’s Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o), his head of security Okoye (Danai Gurira), technologically-gifted sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), strong-willed mother Ramonda (Oscar nominee Angela Bassett), who all provide a refreshingly forward-thinking presence in a comic-book adventure.

About time, and rightly so.

And for fanboys, after years of tepid villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it finally has one to compete with Loki – Coogler’s Creed star Michael B Jordan. He’s the first multi-faceted bad guy to light up the screen in a superhero movie in quite some time – with the vengeful Erik Killmonger – and his enigmatic on-screen dominance is just one of a number of things this movie does so well.

And about time, too.

After the death of his father T’Chaka (John Kani) during the events of Captain America: Civil War, King T’Challa/Black Panther (Boseman) returns home to the reclusive, technologically-advanced African nation of Wakanda to serve as his country’s new leader.

But he’s soon challenged to the throne by multiple factors, including a battle for the crown from Winston Duke’s tribal leader M’Baku, and then from ex-military man Killmonger – the unknown cousin to the Panther – who feels he deserves to rule Wakanda after being denied a potential life of luxury.

He is in cahoots with T’Chaka’s old arch-nemesis Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis’ character last seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron), who has stolen the valuable Vibranium metal source from the state – which powers the technology behind the country’s independence and the Panther’s suit. Klaue is also being pursued by Martin Freeman’s returning CIA agent Everett K Ross (Brit actor Martin Freeman complete with ever-improving American accent) from Civil War, which adds to the MCU continuity with Avengers: Infinity War feverishly around the corner.

And what unfolds is a movie that stands on its own two feet as an action-thriller alone – with a strong storyline and heartfelt narrative – that should satisfy cinema-goers who aren’t comic-book aficionados, and truly engage those who are.

It might not quite be as pivotal an inaugural solo outing as it was for Iron Man (in terms of igniting the MCU), or maybe doesn’t quite have the zany excitement of a Thor: Ragnarok or Avengers Assemble, but it’s so resoundingly solid in all areas that it’s definitely one of the most ‘complete’ films Marvel has ever made.

Jordan’s Killmonger may even dominate the piece over Boseman’s Panther himself, but they both combine with the rest of the cast to make this a stellar movie in more ways than one – and deserves to claw its way to the upper echelons of the Marvel ladder immediately. No question.

That leaves Black Panther as one of the most ambitious superhero movies that has been made – as Marvel tries to vary its tried-and-tested formula – which has plenty game-changing bite.

Rating: 4/5 Gavin Miller


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