Being king is more than assuming leadership and a superpowered mantle. As the new Black Panther, King T’Challa, quickly learns.
Black Panther (2018) Synopsis
Centuries ago, a meteorite containing the powerful metal Vibranium fell onto Central Africa. Through the use of it, five tribes transformed their reclusive nation of Wakanda into the most advanced on Earth, but subsequently chose to masquerade as a third-world nation in fear of their technology being misused by outsiders. Jump forth to modern times, Prince T’Challa returns home to be crowned king after the events of Captain America: Civil War i.e. his father’s death. The new sovereign soon faces his greatest challenge as an ugly secret from the past emerges. This is a secret that divides him between Wakanda’s traditions and its obligations to the world.
Black Panther T’Challa wasn’t familiar to me till recent years, although he has been around for ages.
One of the more balanced members of the Avengers, be it in terms of power or personality, he quickly grew on me since. For example, while watching the 2010 animated series, his scenes were the ones I looked forward to most. Overall, he felt to be a pivot (of sense) for that series. He was also a refreshing contrast to the wilder, more extrovert personae. For example, Ironman, Thor, etc.
In the same way, I’d say Black Panther (2018) provides an invigorating contrast to previous MCU entries too. There is the usual plethora of dazzling action sequences and humourous moments, but at its heart, this movie is very much about political philosophy. One that also condenses the complexity of the subject and makes it palatable through exotic panoramas, colourful customs, and of course, super-powered brawling.
For some, this underlying complexity might result in various parts of the movie feeling draggy. There just doesn’t feel to be much going on in these segments, especially when compared to the action-choked Avengers episodes and so on.
I wouldn’t say the movie subsequently compensates with immaculate performances or eye-popping effects but considered alongside other MCU movies, Black Panther (2018) still refreshes with its unexpected depth. At the same time, subtly, it broadens themes already outlined in Civil War and Spiderman: Homecoming. These themes will undoubtedly be further explored in this year’s Infinity War get-together.
PS: I feel obliged to write a little on the race-related accolades showered on Black Panther (2018). With shame, I confess I would have barely noticed these aspects had I not read several reviews before watching. This undoubtedly is the ill-effect of being part of the majority race; Chinese are the Whites in Singapore, at least numerically. For the movie to remind me of this albeit through third-party reviews, well, that is an accomplishment. Perhaps the movie’s greatest.
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