This must the one of the biggest weeks of the year in UK cinemas, with three must-see pictures all released. The one you can’t miss is Black Panther.
For many reasons. It’s the blackest blockbuster ever and could seriously do more to defeat racism on the biggest scale than anything else ever has since the death of Martin Luther King or at least Mohammed Ali in his prime.
I hope people flock to it and completely forget they’re watching a black film. It is so confident of its blackness and in its right to own its cinematic universe , you can feel the dignity and the excitement pour off the screen. It’s in Chadwick Boseman’s performance as T’Challa, the newly crowned King of Wakanda and the Black Panther himself, and it’s in the amazing direction of Ryan Coogler, whom I recall not that long ago at Cannes with the tiny, gritty indie Fruitvale Station (2013)… in which young actor Michael B Jordan broke through and who now tears up the screen here, almost stealing the picture as the ‘baddie’.
Except even he can’t really steal the movie because Black Panther also boasts fabulous female roles for Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira as a loyal warrior and our own Letitia Wright who is just wonderful as Shuri, the scientific brains behind Wakanda’ mineral-rich success, a sort of Q-figure with gadgets and sharp asides.
But literally everyone steps up and it’s a real pleasure to watch them do it. Besides, for a Marvel movie, it’s unusually literate and thoughtful, touching on issues of borders, colonialism, political and economic responsibility. There’s a bit of Shakespearean grandure, too, and a touch of The Lion King, replacing any cuteness with what can only define as “cool”, an element missing from Marvel movies. As well as seriously good and great to look at, this is a pretty serious film, as it needs to be, and it knows it.
There are a few flaws – Andy Serkis’ evil South African is wasted and I’m not sure quite what Black Panther’s ‘super’ powers are – but overall, with Kendrick Lamar helping out on the soundtrack, this is a great, enjoyable, classy-looking super hero movie, with good chases and decent fights and general sexiness all around, the sexiness of a cast and a movie taking their chance and letting rip with all the style, muscle and glee you could ever wish to see.