FEMALE warrior clans, a token white guy and the plains of Africa – hardly sounds like a Marvel film.
Black Panther boasts some of the things we have been sorely missing from this franchise.
After the King of Wakanda was assassinated in Captain America: Civil War (2016), we pick up in Black Panther with his son Prince T’Challa, AKA Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), taking the throne to lead the isolated, utopian country.
He has big shoes to fill but before he has a chance to settle into the regal seat, T’Challa must track down vibranium stolen by war veteran with a murky past Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who has evil intentions.
With the love of his life, the feisty Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), loyal warrior Okoye (Danai Gurira) and his brainy but sassy sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) by his side, not only does T’Challa have to retrieve the metal but also contend with those within his own community who oppose him.
There is much to admire about this Marvel movie which takes a side-step from the Avengers to follow a story in a fresh new setting and with characters that operate independently of their fellow superheroes.
A bit of culture goes a long way into breathing not only freshness into proceedings, but a social conscience and new emotional stakes.
While it does not break free of the Marvel mould or reinvent the storytelling wheel, Black Panther achieves a lot within the restrains of the universe it inhabits.
It challenges what we think we know about other cultures by showing a culture that is perceived as primitive but has actually made advances beyond western society.
The blend of tradition and modern technology makes for a delicious flavour.
While there are several more Avengers movies planned, one would hope this is Marvel’s step towards greater diversity.
Black Panther (M)
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o
Review by: Julian Wright
In cinemas February 15