The ridiculously talented Ryan Coogler helms a supremely confident blockbuster with his third feature Black Panther.

The story of African prince T'Challa who becomes king of Wakanda after the death of his father while also inheriting the mantle of Black Panther, protector of his people.The fate of his people and the world at large is put in danger with the arrival of Erik Killmonger who teams up with Ulysses Klaue (who possesses some of the stolen precious metal Vibranium, Wakanda's chief resource) to seek revenge and take the Wakandan throne.

Like Fruitvale Station and Creed before it, Black Panther offers astute commentary on themes of Black identity and community while delivering the requisite action thrills and grand set pieces we've come to expect from Marvel Studios.

Visually it's unlike anything that's come before, thanks to cinematographer Rachel Morrison (Oscar nominated this year for Mudbound). While it draws from a rich and wide variety of existing African culture to ensure that its fictional country of Wakanda feels like a vibrant and authentic environment.

Swedish composer and regular Coogler collaborator Ludwig Göransson also supplies a wonderful score that adds to this after he accompanied Baaba Maal on a tour of Senegal before recording the score with several Senegalese musicians. My only minor gripe in this regard is that I would have liked to have heard more of Kendrick Lamar's songs (the specially curated album of which I'm listening to as I write this review).

An exceptional cast is led by a suitably regal and imposing Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa/Black Panther with great support from Michael B. Jordan (as main villain Erik Killmonger), Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurari, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman. Personally though I think its Brit Letitia Wright (straight from excellent appearances in TV shows Humans, Black Mirror, Banana and Cucumber) who steals the show as T'Challa's hyper intelligent, charming and very funny younger sister Shuri.

On the whole Black Panther is an exciting addition to the Marvel canon. Fresh and bold enough to work as a standalone film but with several developments that suggest it will have a major effect on how the subsequent Marvel films will continue.

A great cast, excellent action and an involving story with likeable characters make this a must see.

By Kevin Knapman

Black Panther (12A)

2h 14m

Director: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis

UK Release: Tuesday 13th February

Black Panther - "Kinetic Energy" Clip

Black Panther - "It's A Set Up" Clip