‘Wakanda will no longer watch from the shadows…’
I moan about the lack of diversity inherent in Hollywood blockbusters but then whenever I do have time to sit down and watch a film, I invariably end up watching a Marvel movie. This is partly in a seemingly endless quest to have finally caught up enough to be able to watch Infinity War and partly because of a lack of genuine competition. With the DC and Star Wars franchises both floundering, these are tough times for fans of big money blockbusters.
I have spoken before about Marvel fatigue but, actually, I enjoyed Doctor Strange and Spiderman: Home-Coming and I genuinely loved Thor: Ragnorak, so even by my own unreasonably high standards, I would consider Marvel to be on something of a hot streak. But now, Black Panther…
T’Challa, or Black Panther to his mates, is heir to the kingdom of Wakanda. Following the death of his father Mufasa T’Chaka, T’Challa must unite the Wankandan tribes against the threat of a greater evil. The beast within.
There are some great things about Black Panther so let’s start with them. Michael B. Jordan is excellent as Killmonger and acts as a striking counter point to the incredibly dull performance delivered by Chadwick Boseman in the titular role. Black Panther is as forgettable a hero as Marvel have ever produced and this is particularly frustrating as Killmonger is a genuinely interesting antagonist, something that Marvel traditionally struggles with.
I have been banging this drum for ages but there is no doubting that the MCU would benefit from having an all-encompassing villain who features in a number of consecutive films. Darth Vadar, the Joker, Moriarty. Marvel simply doesn’t have an equivalent to those instantly recognisable names. And so that lends every film a feeling of sinking predictably. We know the villain will be vanquished by the end. We know the love interest will be ensnared in the heady gaze of the beautiful superhero. It was ever thus.
To some extent, this isn’t really a problem. Comic books are not traditionally a complicated medium. The good guys are good, the bad guys are bad, the chicks wear latex. But when you keep bringing in directors, nay auteurs, such as Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed), you raise the bar a little higher than standard action fare. Black Panther is a decent film but that’s all it is and in a franchise that has pushed boundaries and dominated the box office, decent just isn’t good enough anymore. Anyway, at least I can finally watch Infinity War now…