The Big Issue : Edition 556
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 23 FEB–8 MAR 2018 31 PHOTOBY which the Wakandans object to – but the film wisely forgets all about this as soonasitdoeswhatitneedstodoasa Marvel product: usher us to the big final battle scene. Here, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B Jordan), who seems to embody the dark id of Black America (crucially, he stands apart from the Wakandans in that his mother is African- American) has his moment. His idea for the future of Wakanda is one scaffolded by white fears of righteous black anger. Many will say, and have already said, that Black Panther is the superhero America needs. But America will always seek to reassure itself before it challenges itself, and in Black Panther we see the apotheosis of this drive. At the end of the film, T’Challa chooses to build an outreach centre in Oakland, in a country with the largest economy in the world, ostensibly to help the poor black youth as his uncle did before him. The film could, of course, ask why the welfare of American citizens must fall to the monarch of an African nation, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t have to: as viewers we are all implicated, anyway, so we might as well enjoy the ride. By the metrics of the Marvel universe, co-writer-director Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther is a fine addition: the set pieces are grand, the Kendrick Lamar-curated soundtrack is exhilarating, the story doesn’t drag despite running more than two hours. In Jordan, we have the most compelling and nuanced villain of any Marvel film, and Letitia Wright, who steals every scene she’s in as Princess Shuri, is almost single-handedly responsible for this film being such fun. But beyond the particularly strong performances from Jordan, Wright and the rest of the predominantly black cast, and the feel-good “pan-African positivity by way of Oakland” vibe, there’s not really much to say about the film that can’t be said about any other 17 Marvel movies that have collectively consumed our attention for over a decade now: it’s good enough to justify sequels, the on-screen talent is top shelf and the explosions are more realistic this time. by Khalid Warsame (khalidw.com) » Black Panther is in cinemas now.