Black Panther (Coogler, 2018)

I’ve made it clear in other reviews that I’m no Marvel fanatic, and that their cookie-cutter approach to plot and characterization has becoming maddeningly repetitive with each new entry. It’s so nice, then, to watch a Marvel film that isn’t beholden to the same recycled and over-CGIed mindset. It’s so nice to see a Marvel film scripted and shot with some semblance of care, keeping some of the spectacle without sacrificing all of the substance. There’s balance and actual stakes, with a villain whose motives are complex without being reduced to “I AM EVIL AND I MUST STEAL THIS COOL OBJECT BECAUSE I NEED POWERRRRR.” And, most importantly, the film is comprised almost entirely of minorities, whose culture and societal issues are front and centre the whole way through. There was never any need to have these superhero films populated entirely by pretty white people in the first place. Actors of African and Asian descent can be just as awesome in these same roles, and finally they’ve been given the chance to prove it. Black Panther has become a global phenomenon and a box office smash, and it deserves the plaudits, because it really is that great.

Obviously I am not the person with the authority to outline just how beautiful and liberating this film is to POCs; as someone who is more like Martin Freeman’s white spectator, I’m just glad all of this happened, and it’s an honour to watch these powerful and awesome narratives unfold as they do. The ensemble is aces, the costuming gorgeous and radiant, the production design wonderful, and the special effects pretty good. Ryan Coogler knows how to direct like a boss, making both the loud and quiet moments count equally without trying to overcompensate. Both the score and soundtrack are glorious in their cultural specificity, and Kendrick’s beats slap. And so on. The only time the film let me down was the somewhat milquetoast ending that renders the political implications of this confusing, and I can only put it down to some sort of studio intervention.

Because apparently these Marvel blockbusters aren’t supposed to be politically-charged, huh? (Did you hear me roll my eyes there? Because I sure as hell rolled them).