Martin Carr reviews Black Panther: The Official Movie Special…
Movie compendium pieces, film tie-ins and cinematic annuals are in the realm of coffee table talking points for most. Oversized, glossy, packed with pictures and minimal information. Marvel Studios who seem to be taking over the world when it comes to breaking new ground across the board, have now realised a companion piece for Black Panther employing similar templates.
Ninety four pages in length featuring condensed interviews, cinematic soundbites with central cast members, The Official Movie Special represents a cost-effective extension of Ryan Coogler’s vision. Production design, costume construction and Wakandan creation are all touched on in an informative way. Reactions to the original script, feelings on Coogler himself as well as the importance of Black Panther for cinema are all alluded to within these pages. As an extension of the film it gives you a glimpse into the world Marvel have created, employing concept art, movie stills, as well as character portraits which feature alongside opinion piece dialogue.
Since release Black Panther has risen to the point of cultural phenomenon in cinematic terms. Every actor without fail considers this film a cinematic shift for super hero representation on-screen. Much is made of Chadwick Boseman’s performance in what is officially the first black super hero film ever made. Caught up in a zeitgeist moment of its own creation Black Panther is more than the sum those merchandising parts. With Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and Michael B. Jordan in support the sheer scale of talent connected says more than any media junket could possibly convey.
Books like these are made for the fans who want more after they leave the cinema. In terms of impact what you can see, read and learn from The Official Movie Special is only a starting point. In his previous films Coogler has proven himself a savvy innovator firstly with Fruitvale Station and then Creed. In Black Panther he has harnessed the public consciousness, captured a global imagination and given us something new.
As for movie mogul Kevin Feige his feel for the pulse of cinema audiences has crossed another line here. This might be the first Marvel film where the man behind the camera has successfully incorporated his vision into that of his studio. As other reviewers have rightly pointed out Black Panther is a Ryan Coogler film first and Marvel movie second. This glossy tie-in might be an extension of that ethos but it honestly represents a smaller piece of something much more important.