After his pitch perfect introduction in Captain America: Civil War Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther returns to the big screen for his first solo outing. With its almost all black cast, critically adored director and Kendrick Lamar produced soundtrack, the hype for the eighteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is unprecedented. Unlike any previous entry there was a cultural importance attached here from the moment it was announced, as well as a timeliness that only grows stronger with every Trump tweet.
Thankfully director Ryan Coogler surpasses all expectations – this is a blockbuster with political undertones that touch on everything from race, wealth and immigration. Above all else though, it’s just an excellent time. The story focuses on Boseman as T’Challa, the hero of the title and King of the African nation of Wakanda, forced to fight for his kingdom following the death of his father in Civil War and the return of Andy Serkis’ arms dealer Ulysses Klaue.
Boseman is great again, graceful and stoic in the lead role, but the movie’s biggest strength is its supporting cast. Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o as T’Challa’s love interest Nakia and The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira as the head of his security are both brilliant, but its Letitia Wright and Michael B. Jordan who shine brightest. The former steals every scene she’s in as the King’s sarcastic, tech genius younger sister Shuri, while the latter owns the film’s second half with a fireball intensity as the villain Killmonger.
A slow start and the finale’s unnecessary overreliance on CGI aside, this is easily the best superhero origin story since Iron Man. Shuri’s constant string of sharp one-liners give it a solid dose of the humour Marvel has become known for, but a couple of striking action sequences, incredible acting top to bottom and Marvel’s uncanny ability to craft fleshed out characters that audiences fall for immediately make this one of the most impressive movies of its kind. Black Panther is an unequivocal triumph for the MCU.