It would be an understatement to say that Marvel is an important factor of not only modern pop culture but modern cinema itself, indeed an impressive four billion dollar box-office juggernaut. Here in 2018 Marvel finally realise Black Panther's potential - arguably the graphic novel's most influential character of colour. The first-rate Ryan Coogler directs with Chadwick Boseman returning as T'Challa, who upon taking up the mantle as King of Wakanda must face all those who oppose him.
Deep down Black Panther's mighty roar is desperate to break loose - but for now, sadly it remains largely silent. The story is played far too safe and doesn't do justice to the cultural significance of the Black Panther legacy - Marvel yet again trip themselves up in a comic book race that should have led them to the top of the podium. One can only hope this is a last minute blip before Infinity War - but Black Panther proves to be just another brick in the wall.
That said it goes without question that the kingdom of Wakanda is mesmerising. A picturesque use of sound - blending bongos with contemporary rap - not only is this probably Marvel's best sounding work but its easily their most beautiful feature to date. When it comes to the representation of African culture - I don't believe Coogler could have been more precise, delicate or respectful. Most of the film's finest moments take place in the heart of Wakanda - the bits we see are fantastic but are ultimately too infrequent. Symbolic of Black Panther as a whole really - what's there is good, however Coogler fails to go any further with it.
It's no surprise by this point that Black Panther is (seemingly like every recent Marvel picture) consistently comedic where it shouldn't be. Admittedly, one bought into it a whole lot more than the desperately fish-out-of-water Thor: Ragnarok - but humour continues to be Marvel's greatest downfall. You invest more in the scenes that are supposed to be taken seriously, but the ill timed humour and obvious one-liners still arrive relentlessly. Black Panther fails to change the game as promised and given the cultural significance of the character - the pieces were practically already in place but Coogler somehow draws very little impact from this hotly anticipated picture.
I understand that I am growing up, but whilst I grow it appears that Marvel movies are staying stubbornly still. They take one of their boldest heroes - portrayed perfectly by the exhilarating Chadwick Boseman - and create a self-doubting soft action movie that relies heavily on a tired superhero formula. Black Panther places great ideas in a disappointing final product, and heartbreakingly feels like the one that just slipped through Marvel’s fingers.
You sense the director's excitement behind the camera but it unfortunately doesn't translate to the screen. Critically, Marvel have never been so rich in their characters' storytelling, but equally never have they been so unfocused with their actual plot line. Upon second viewing the initial problems still lie - however Black Pather has clear and admirable passion for its characters which are evidently the key inspiration behind this picture. It’s easily their best sounding and looking work to date and is a good set up for greater things to come but crucially Marvel's past mistakes continue to haunt them.
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.