Friday, February 9, 2018

Black Panther welcomes Marvelites to Wakanda

2018 is going to be a BIG year for Marvelites (aka Marvel fans) with so much comic book movies being served from now until December. 20th Century Fox is contributing two movies in the form of Deadpool 2 in May and X-Men Dark Phoenix in November. Then there's the first Venom movie from Sony Pictures in October together with an animated Spider-man movie in December. Marvel Studios themselves will dish out three movies starting with Black Panther next week as a precursor to the ultimate superhero team-up in Avengers Infinity War this April, followed in July by Ant-Man & The Wasp. Plus there are whole servings of Marvel superheroes on TV from titles like Agents of SHIELD, The Gifted, Legion, The Runaways, Cloak & Dagger, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage.


Kicking off Marvel-mania in the cinemas officially from 15 February 2018 next week is Marvel's Black Panther. Our titular superhero first appeared almost two years prior in Captain America: Civil War. In his debut, Black Panther was pursuing the Winter Soldier / Bucky Barnes who was wanted for the murder of Wakanda's King T'Chaka in a terrorist bombing of a United Nations conference. When Barnes was apprehended together with Captain America / Steve Rogers, it was revealed that Black Panther is Prince T'Challa of Wakanda, vowing revenge for the death of his father and King.

Black Panther as part of Team Iron Man in the awesome airport battle showdown against Team Captain America.
During the ensuing row between superheroes, Black Panther sided with Tony Stark as part of Team Iron Man against Team Captain America. The magnificent "airport battle" ended with the escape of Roger and Barnes though other members of their team were apprehended.

Subsequently, Black Panther secretly followed Stark to a Siberian Hydra base and learned the real culprit of the bombing was Helmut Zemo, a Sokovian seeking to fracture the Avengers who he blames for the death of his family during the incident with Ultron. Black Panther apprehended Zemo and ultimately provided sanctuary for Rogers and Barnes in his homeland of Wakanda.

First appearance of Black Panther in the pages of Fantastic Four #52.
Whilst elements of Black Panther in the movies are fairly consistent with the source comics, his first introduction back in 1966 was not in the pages of Captain America but inside issue 52 of the Fantastic Four. In the comics, Black Panther possesses super-human conditioning akin to the super-soldier serum but sourced instead from a heart-shaped herb associated with the Panther God Bast. In the movies, at least during the events of Civil War, no explanation of his powers was given although they could be conjectured as part of his vibranium enhanced costume. Other than this, his alter-ego as King T'Challa of the African nation Wakanda seems consistent with the comics.

Read more about Black Panther's comic book background from Star2.com.

Black Panther's vibranium costume provides immunity to bullets  and explosions.
Now Black Panther returns in this own solo movie outing taking place after the events of Captain America Civil War and shedding more light into the mysterious nation of Wakanda.



Movie Synopsis
Marvel Studios’ Black Panther follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.

Marvel's Black Panther is directed by Ryan Coogler with Chadwick Boseman reprising his role as Black Panther / T'Challa. Joining him is Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Martin Freeman as Everett Ross, Daniel Kaluuya as W'Kabi, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Angela Bassett as Ramonda &  Forest Whitaker as Zuri. Opposing our hero are Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, Winston Duke as M'Baku, and Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue.

Marvel Studios Producer Kevin Feige and Black Panther co-creator Stan Lee share about developing Black Panther from comic book pages to screen.

Despite the fantastical worlds showcased in comic books, Marvel often created superheroes with very grounded human origins, many of which are credited to the legendary Stan Lee. Instead of aliens or gods (except for Thor and his entourage), many of Marvel's heroes are indeed regular humans that us mere mortals can relate to: the tech billionaire growing a conscience, the teenage kid rushing to grow up, a former felon who can't get a job, the arrogant doctor, etc.


However unlike most Marvel comic book superheroes, Black Panther does not originate from a particular locale in the United States based on our real world, but instead from a fictional African nation of Wakanda. Moreover, he holds the mantle of King and has to balance duty to his people against duty as a superhero. This forthcoming movie looks to be T'Challa's journey as the new King of Wakanda and his challenges from both internal and external discord.

Black Panther's costume showcased during San Diego Comic-con.
One of the most intriguing aspects to this upcoming movie is the nation of Wakanda itself. As shown in the trailers, Wakanda is very much a mysterious and reclusive African nation. It is soon revealed as the most technologically advanced nation on Earth and the source of vibranium, a highly sought after mineral for its unique properties, i.e. vibranium was used to make Captain America's "indestructible" shield.


Wakanda in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) looks to be intricately fleshed out from the trailers, its people mixing cutting edge high-technology with age old tribal rituals. An ensemble cast reflects the Wakandans featuring Golden Glode award winner Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Queen Mother, and Letitia Wright as Shuri, T'Challa's younger sister and Princess of Wakanda.

Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther / T'Challa fulfilling his father's legacy.
 Angela Bassett as Queen Mother Ramonda (left) and Letitia Wright as Princess Shuri

The royal family is protected by the Dora Milaje, an elite special forces of warrior women led by "Wakanda forever" Okoye (Danai Gurira). T'Challa's love interest Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) is also a member of the Dora Milaje.

The warrior women of Wakanda (Left to Right): Okoye (Danai Gurira) head of the Dora Milaje, Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o).


Also supporting T'Challa is W'Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya), his best friend and head of security. Academy award winner Forest Whitaker dons Wakandan robes as Zuri, an elder statesman and religious figure.

 Other key Wakandans (L to R): T'Challa's best friend W'Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya), and tribal figure Zuri (Forest Whitaker).

Unsettling the peaceful nation and opposing King T'Challa's rule are M'Baku (Winston Duke), a powerful warrior of a Wakanda tribe, and Erik Killmonger played by Michael B. Jordan. Killmonger in particular is seen to challenge T'Challa directly for the throne and looks legitimately bad@$$ enough to go toe-to-toe with the Black Panther when he morphs into his own presumably vibranium suit. Allied with them is arms-dealer and smuggler Ulysses Klaue played by Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings) reprising his role from Avengers Age of Ultron albeit less an arm.

 Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger (left) seeks the throne with support of Wakandan tribal leader M'Baku (Winston Duke).

Face-off between rivals T'Challa (left) and Killmonger in tribal combat.

Motion-capture master actor Andy Serkis returns as arms-dealer Ulysses Klaue, but NOT as a CG character.
Another alumni from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies is Martin Freeman as CIA agent Everett K. Ross. He was last seen during the events of Captain America: Civil War as  Deputy Task Force Commander of the Joint Counterterrorism Center, reporting to US Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross. In the trailer Ross is seen interrogating Klaue (Editor: wonder if the actors felt dejavu from their scene as Bilbo and Gollum, although in different shoes so to speak) about Wakanda, which ultimately leads him to the hidden African nation and providing us an outsider's view to that world.

Martin Freeman goes on another unexpected journey as Everett K. Ross.
Marvel's Black Panther has already had its World Premiere and press screenings, receiving rave reviews amongst critics and fans. Check out non-spoiler reviews by Star2.com with rating of 8.5 out of 10 and Den of Geek scoring 4 out of 5. At the time of this post, it rates 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and 86 on Metacritic. That's ample reason of us comic book geeks to rush to cinemas as soon as possible and fortunately early sneak previews of Black Panther begin on Tuesday 13 February from 7pm onwards at the major Malaysian cinema chains.

Source: TGV Cinemas.
Like all Marvel movies, post-credit scenes are expected therefore stay in your seats for two (2) such scenes. If you find yourself starting to miss Wakanda then worry not as in just over two (2) months away the Black Panther will return alongside Steve Rogers and his comrades in Avengers Infinity War scheduled to release on 26 April 2018.

T'Challa returns for Avengers Infinity War together with Steve Rogers and friends to combat the forces of Thanos.
Now for Marvelites who must bring home some stuff, the Outpost Movie Recon Team (M.R.T.) has tracked down a whole slew of movie memorabilia and merchandise to worship the Black Panther. Starting with the movie exhibitors, GSC Cinemas is throwing out a whole lot of Black Panther merchandise for their customers:

Purchase of any two (2) movie tickets will be given Black Panther angpow packets.
Firstly, purchase of two (2) tickets for any movies will entitle redemption of Black Panther angpow packets from all GSC cineplexes. Find out how to redeem and other terms & conditions from the GSC official website.


Rewarding advance ticket purchases, a Black Panther keychain will be given away for four (4) tickets purchased from selected cinemas. Find out participating cineplexes and other terms & conditions from the official GSC website. Redemption begins from Tuesday 13 February, 6pm while stocks last.


For fans who can't wait, GSC is already making available concession combos offering a limited edition Black Panther collectible coin at selected cineplexes. The combos are priced at RM21 for West Malaysia comprising one large popcorn and 2 regular drinks plus the Black Panther coin. Again goto the official GSC website for list of the participating cineplexes and other terms & conditions.


Finally, an exclusive Limited Edition Black Panther tshirt is available from part of another concession combo priced at RM45 with one large popcorn and two regular drinks. As mentioned before, check out the official GSC website for participating cineplexes and other terms & conditions.


Over at MBO Cinemas, they are offering a Black Panther popcorn container which is sculpted like the titular heroes' head. Popcorn is included in the combos priced at RM30 for 1 drink, or RM33 for 2 drinks. The combos are already available so check with MBO Cinemas Facebook Page for cinemas offering them.


For the chance to win movie premiums, LFS Cinemas has posted a Facebook contest on their Page offering Black Panther tshirt, keychain, earphones, notebook and more. Act soon as this contest closes on 15 February 2018.


Premium-X Cinemas in OneCity USJ is also offering similar Movie Premiums via their online contest. Goto their Facebook Page for more details on how to participate and submit your entries by 25 February 2018.



Official Black Panther movie premiums up for grabs.

Lastly Klips by Says.com has these same movie premiums available via their website contest taking submissions until 19 February 2018.

Marvel collectors will be happy to get their hands on toys from Hasbro now available at major toy retailers and hobby stores. Various role play toys like Black Panther mask and claws will delight kids together with action figures priced from RM49.90.

Hasbro role-play toys with Black Panther masks, claws and gauntlet.

Kids action figures of major characters priced at RM49.90.
For more discerning adult collectors, the Marvel Legends products should be of keen interest. The 6in series offers Black Panther, Erik Killmonger and Nakia as seen in the movie. Other Marvel characters from the same set include Black Bolt the King of Inhumans, Namor the Sub-Mariner and the Invincible Iron Man. Parts are included with each character, except Iron Man, to assemble Dora Malije leader Okoye. These action figures are premium priced at RM139.90 each. For more detailed review of the Marvel Legends Black Panther set, head over to our associate Pop Culture-FUN Malaysia blog.

Characters in the Marvel Legends 6in Black Panther series.

T'Challa as the Black Panther in Marvel Legends 12in scale, although availability may be limited in Malaysia.
LEGO has also released two building sets for Black Panther from scenes inspired of the movie. Set no. 76100 Royal Talon Fighter Attack priced at RM179.90 presents Wakanda's futuristic aircraft with a high ratio of four mini-figs including Black Panther himself, Killmonger, Nakia and Klaue.


The Black Panther's ride is pretty cool.
Set 76099 Rhino Face-off by the Mine is priced at RM129.90 includes both mini-figs of Black Panther and Killmonger in their panther costumes, plus Okoye and a rhino. Should we wager that in Wakanda the Dora Milaje ride rhinos to battle or this is just a gimmick that looks cool to kids?

Funko POP! vinyl figurine of Black Panther unmasked from the upcoming movie.
Collectors of Funko POP! cutesy vinyl figurines will be either delighted to extend their collection of Marvel characters into this movie, or despair with some characters available only as retail exclusives to hunt down. Read-up the official Funko POP! blog to find out what products are being made, although at this time we have yet to source availability in Malaysia.


That's a wrap for our special intel on Marvel's Black Panther covering what movie goers should know before entering the cinema, plus recon on where to find movie memorabilia at our local shores. Also follow Marvel Malaysia for latest updates on the MCU. Black Panther will be in cinemas nationwide 15 February 2018 as alternative fare to Chinese New Year movies.


Advance sneak previews begin Tuesday, 13 February from 7pm which offer an earlier option to catch the movie which may not be so appropriate for Valentine's Day consumption on Wednesday, 14 February.

Now as Stan Lee would say,
Excelsior!

Disclaimer: Black Panther and associated trademarks are copyright to Marvel Entertainment, referenced here for fan service purposes only without intent to infringe.

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