Highly lauded in his first cinematic appearance during Captain America: Civil War, the anticipation for the solo cinematic appearance of Black Panther has been extremely high, director Ryan Coogler not only excels in bringing the eponymous character to the big screen but in fully realising the Afrofuturistic nation of Wakanda.
A key strength of the film is in its presentation of the fictional nation of Wakanda, known in Marvel comics and MCU lore as the most technologically advanced nation in the World, Ryan Coogler and his collaborative skilfully display the majesty of Wakanda that shows a future and society that could only exist in an African context with great pride and reverence. A lot of care is taken to depict technology, architecture, clothing and jewelry in not only an African context but also in a manner that defies and subverts expectations due to what we know of these things now in modern society. Black Panther has a clear identity that is presented with the utmost confidence which works in concert with other facets of the film to enhance the viewing experience.
Black Panther carries strong narrative rich in a meta-narrative and commentary that allows an excited black audience from all parts of the diaspora to feel that the film involves them too. Following on after the events of Captain America: Civil War Prince – soon to be King – T’Challa returns to Wakanda to rightly claim and ascend the throne, however, when a mercenary known as Erik Killmonger appears to contest T’Challa’s claim a power struggle ensues that brings chaos Wakanda and threatens to change it and the World forever. On the surface the plot of Black Panther seems inconsequential adding nothing to the overall narrative on the approaching threat of Thanos, but Marvel Studios and Director Ryan Coogler dared to be bold and write a story that allowed the black audience to not only view themselves as powerful agents but inspire discussion about black identity. The conflict between T’Challa and Killmonger can have members of the black audience picking sides or seeing themselves in both characters, through these characters some tough questions are being posed for those paying close attention with no desire for a singular definitive answer but rather a desire for the black audience and fans to seek out their own answers, while it stumbles and is not perfect the narrative of Black Panther in T’Challa and Killmonger is worthwhile for the conversation it invites surrounding the black identity. Thanos can wait.
Black Panther also employs strong visuals and sfx with standouts like the waterfall arena and the vibranium cavern which support the films afrofuturistic vision, the panther suits were also a joy to see thou they did look cartoony in the later parts of the film, the music by Ludwig Goransson is evocative and matches the visuals consistently with a personal favourite standout being Killmonger whenever Erik would appear on screen.
Black Panther is a triumph on many levels (and a phenomenon from the look of things) a manifestation of Black Excellence that hopefully will be seen again very soon. #Wakanda4Ever