A superhero film with an almost all-black cast and an African American director has been a long time coming, but director and co-writer Ryan Coogler (Creed) has made it worth the wait.
Sure we've had Spawn and Blade, but Marvel's 18th film adaptation, Black Panther, delivers a lot - action-adventure, a coming-of-age story, a touch of sci-fi, geopolitics, and family drama.
Last seen in Captain America: Civil War, King T'Challa, aka the Black Panther (Chadwick
Boseman), returns to his homeland Wakanda to take up the throne after his father's death. The African nation is highly sophisticated and technology led but hides behind a giant hologram making it appear Third World to outsiders.
The reason for secrecy and the Black Panther's source of power is a rare resource called vibranium. The King is responsible for his people and protecting the nation's vibranium. The metal could be used to cause widespread devastation, which poses just one of the moral questions the film raises - is Wakanda right to keep the wealth and knowledge to themselves when it could help African people around the world.
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The co-writers weave these moral dilemmas throughout - King T'Challa must also right the wrongs of the past - while also going to town on diversity by surrounding their lead character with a collection of strong, smart and powerful woman. All without making it look like an effort.
Danai Gurira plays the fierce, loyal and full-of-heart General Okoye, Lupita Nyong'o takes on spy and aid worker Nakia, and Letitia Wright, a young actress to watch, nails the role of Shuri, the Black Panther's 16-year-old tech-savvy younger sister. All three threaten to steal the show from the restrained and regal Boseman.
There's lots to like about the Black Panther's first solo outing; with just a few quibbles over narrative issues, some clunky time changes, and a request for a little more humour next time.
None of this bothered my 11-year-old son, and very satisfied viewing companion. His verdict: "That was awesome."
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong'o, Michael B. Jordan
Director: Ryan Coogler
Running time: 134mins
Rating: M (Violence)
Verdict: Worth the wait.