Go watch it first, there's spoilers here!


So the movie is called Black Panther, but Wakanda might have been a more fitting name. In a year or two moviegoers have forgotten all about T'Challa and Nakia and Killmonger and Shuri and the queen mother and so on, but we will remember Wakanda. It's already a place among other mythical places that can't be located in the real world, but nevertheless make up a big part of our shared mental map.

It's got mountains and seaside and savanna and jungle, and a gorgeous capital city anyone would like to at least visit, probably also live in. Wakanda's capital has a distinct African architectural style, not universal copy-paste skyscrapers. It's got maglev trains and handwoven baskets, hi-tech dragonfly airships and street-food stalls, and it's so safe that the king himself can walk along the streets with just one or two guards. Well, he's a superhero with superhero strength, but still. It's an afrofuturist paradise – a through-and-through African nation, prosperous, never colonized, using their natural resources for the benefit of the whole population, tech-forward, stylish, everything. It's somewhat strange how it's taken so long to create this utopia on-screen, since it fulfills an obvious collective desire. But now it exists, at least in the minds of millions of people.

Utopian Wakanda is ruled by T'Challa, just as perfect and flawless a human being as his nation is. He is highly intelligent, efficient, nice, a good friend, a great big brother, a superhero, has a good relationship with his mother, and even though he has technically split up with his girlfriend Nakia over differing career goals, he remains fully committed to her (instead of for example going for a rampage of one night stands, which should be fairly easy for a good-looking young immensely wealthy superhero-king).

All in all, T'Challa is so well-rounded and balanced he resembles a slippery sphere, it's hard to get a grip on him. His buddies and adversaries have more rough edges and consequently are more memorable.

From a romance standpoint I would have loved more focus and screen time on Okoye's and W'kabi's relationship. Main couple T'Challa and Nakia are so obviously destined to end up back together, it's somewhat unclear why they have bothered to split up at all. There's a lot more interesting things going on with Okoye, general of the elite fighting group Dora Milaje, and W'Kabi, chief of the tribe responsible for protecting Wakanda's borders (and breeding battle rhinos!). Both are loyal to their nation, but have different ideas what it means, and it would have been so easy to milk a little more anguish out of it before the lovely reconciliation. But it was pretty nice as it was, Okoye willing to strike her beloved husband dead and him being convinced of the righteousness of her cause because of that. Apparently some really good cut scenes between Okoye and W'kabi are going to be on DVD, so I'm looking forward to that.

Now for the sequel, let's see how the Black Panther deals with all the superhero-strength giving herbs being torched. He can never again drink the potion to strip him of the powers for the ceremonial battle or he will never get the powers back, so how is this going to affect the Wakandan constitution? If the balance of power in the nation rests on the right of any royal-blooded man (?) backed by his tribe to challenge the king in a fair fight, should T'Challa step down from the throne since he can't engage in an equal fistfight? Maybe we'll see Wakanda moving from a monarchy towards hi-tech direct democracy…

Final verdict: A much-hyped movie which lives up to the hype (unlike recent examples Wonder Woman and Ghostbusters remake). Solid story, interesting characters, great visuals, good pacing, engages with heavy themes and yet maintains Marvel action movie feel.