Black Panther Movie Review: Is This The Finest Marvel Film Of All Time (2019)
You’ll believe a man can fly. When the first Superman film came out in 1978, we’d never seen anything like it. Our relationship with cinema, heroes and telephone booths was instantly, irrevocably altered. An exceptionally handsome man made a beloved character come alive and literally spun our world around. We were enthralled, overwhelmed and – perhaps most importantly – comforted. Here was a hero to save us all. He’d got us. And the line on the poster was no lie.
With a superhero movie out every other month, it’s easy to forget how much of an event these films once were when they dwarfed us every dozen or so years. That Superman, the first Batman in 1990, the second Spider-Man in 2004, they struck us like meteor-sized shots of dopamine, filling us with exultation and wonder, reducing grown-ups to kids and making kids believe in grown-ups. I didn’t think I’d ever feel that way for a superhero film again. This week I learnt I was wrong.
I’ve loved some of the recent Marvel movies – positively loved them because they’ve amused and tickled and been gloriously bonkers, but this is something else. This is awe First comes colour A potion purpler than Prince’s blood, viscous and thick, poured into the mouth of a man streaked with warpaint, before he’s buried under red, red sand. This is a world sewn from kente cloth, calling for the brightest shades and patching them together into a wondrous zigzag. All draped around miles and miles of melanin. Wakanda is the richest, most technologically forward country in the world, a fictional African country that hides its splendour under a pastoral hologram. It wants to stay pristine by not letting the world in, even if it means not shining for all to see.
Wakanda owes its riches to Vibranium – pronounced by its king, T’Challa, in a way that lets us hear both the ‘vibe’ and the ‘brain’ baked into the word – and it is considered Earth’s most powerful metal. Captain America’s shield is made of this. Yet within Wakanda, their application of technology is tremendously human: they sew Vibranium into their clothes, they hide space-age armour inside sexy necklaces, they create holographic communicators that encourage multiply-shared communication. Even their self-driving cars aren’t self-driving but steered from far away. Most of their hypermodern technology is based on human contact.Black Panther Movie Review: Is This The Finest Marvel Film Of All Time,