FIRST REVIEW: Black Panther makes Marvel matter all over again
BLACK PANTHER (M)
Rating: four stars (4 out of 5)
Director: Ryan Coogler (Creed)
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Andy Serkis, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, Forest Whitaker, Martin Freeman, Stan Lee, Sterling K. Brown, Winston Duke.
Marvel connect to a new roar power
It is a landmark. And it leaves marks.
So get in the queue now, people.
Black Panther, the first Marvel movie blockbuster to put a superhero of colour at the epicentre of the action, is a must-see for a myriad of great reasons.
Much fuss will undoubtedly be made of the blows that Black Panther strikes so emphatically.
Not just in the interests of racial diversity on screen (the movie's raucous, yet respectful embrace of black culture and history is a breakthrough Hollywood moment), but also gender equality (the females of Black Panther are not just passengers in this fast-moving tale, they propel it just as much as the males).
Black Panther begins in the wake of those scenes in Captain America: Civil War where we were first introduced to Prince T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and his secret superhero guise of Black Panther.
Upon the death of his father, T'Challa ventures home to the kingdom of Wakanda, where it is widely assumed he will take the old man's place on the throne.
(First, however, he must fight off any potential challengers to the Wakanda crown. What follows is the best hand-to-hand combat sequence ever seen in a Marvel movie. It's staged in a rock pool atop a 100 metre-high waterfall, and it just ROCKS. There's another one later in the movie. Can't tell you why, though. Sorry. Spoilers, and all that.)
A little bit more background about Wakanda. The rest of the world, as is its way, assumes that this is just another typically impoverished African nation. Which is just the way the Wakandans like it.
Pretending to be a primitive country turns out to be a brilliant cover for Wakanda, an incredibly advanced, almost utopian society where the understanding, design and deployment of technology is light years ahead of the so-called 'civilised' world.
The secret to the great leaps forward made by Wakanda is a rare substance known as vibranium, a metallic ore with energy-transferring properties that can be manipulated and controlled in sophisticated ways.
An infamous arms dealer, Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), has somehow got his grubby hands on some vibranium, and has every intention to sell it to the highest bidder on the black market.
Aiding and abetting this dangerous ploy is Erik Killmonger (a beyond-charismatic Michael B. Jordan of Creed), an ex-US military agent who knows more than he is letting on about the mystical Wakandan way of life.
Once he gets his newly crowned head around the Klaue-Killmonger alliance, T'Challa must quickly assemble the best fighting force he can find to repel and extinguish the threat completely.
A noticeably high proportion of T'Challa's closest and must trusted warriors are female. The most dynamic of them is Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), a defiantly independent woman whose commitment to broader social outreach often puts her at loggerheads with Wakanda's insular instinct to not engage with the wider world.
Black Panther opens in Australian cinemas on Wednesday February 14.