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Black Panther

After what feels like dozens of Marvel superhero films, ‘Black Panther’ faces a dilemma. Although it has the requisite action, colour and expensive mayhem as one expects, it has the formidable task of differentiating itself from others. Audience enthusiasm and similar films are the true foes ‘Black Panther’ comes across standing up against them very well. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Marvel comic character has enough energetic zest to overcome the heroic movie glut begun years ago.

The King of the African nation of Wakanda, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) will do anything to protect it. That includes fighting evil-doers as Black Panther, a costumed hero meant to be a symbol of hope. Amongst those wanting to destroy the King and start a world war is Killmonger (Michael B Jordan) an experienced soldier eager for power. Teaming with CIA agent Everett K Ross (Martin Freeman), T’Challa aims to maintain order and prevent his country from a looming cataclysm.

Unlike many in the genre, ‘Black Panther’ is actually about something. By exploring the abuse of power and technology, the screenplay has much depth that isn’t typical for this type of caper. Director Ryan Coogler mixes the formula to good effect. Known for rejuvenating stagnant franchises such as the Rocky series with ‘Creed’, Coogler is adept at crafting gritty drama. He remembers to have fun in ‘Black Panther’ too as the colourful spectacle is seen in full force.

None of this would work without solid performances. Boseman and especially Jordan provide genuine gravitas to their roles as their conflicted characters have opposing aims easy to understand. Their co-stars are equally fine and dive into the plentiful action with gusto. Whilst ‘Black Panther’ suffers from pacing issues and could have been better edited, it doesn’t skimp on the dazzling CGI and great stunt-work. This is a comic-book flick after all but one that perhaps lingers more in the memory than most.

‘Black Panther’ has already earned much praise for its diversity and strong script. Hopefully this paves the way for more lesser-known Marvel comic characters to reach the silver screen. After ten years of Marvel movies, ‘Black Panther’ marks a new chapter in the ongoing series, with a future eagerly anticipated.

Rating out of 10: 7

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