Black Panther: An exhilarating piece of cinematic history

It is simply exhilarating. And, make no mistake about it, it is also a cinematic moment.

The much anticipated Black Panther looks like no other offering from Marvel so far - it is the first time the most lucrative film franchise in history has featured an almost entirely black cast in one of its film.

And unlike many other Hollywood offerings, this is not a film about the suffering and injustice of black people, historically or in the present. This is not a superhero film where only the sidekicks are black.

It is a glorious action movie, in which the superhero himself, happens to be black; a film set in an African nation, the fictional Wakanda, which happens to be the most technologically advanced in the world; an army of warriors who happen to be black women.

Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger. Credit: AP

At every turn, Black Panther offers up a new picture. Visually it is saying so many different things from what mainstream audiences have become accustomed to seeing on the big screen. For black audiences this is not a representation of themselves that is cliched, but a powerful celebration.

It is refreshing, and with race dominating the agenda in America in recent years, including the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, it has arrived at the perfect time.

Black Panther was the first black superhero created by the Marvel comic writers Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966 when racial tensions were boiling over in America.

The character is called T'Challa, a King who fights to save his country, and its precious resources of vibranium, a powerful, magical substance that others are after.

Black Panther is set to break box office records. Credit: AP

Colonialism, human trafficking, gender equality, black oppression - Black Panther is about all of these - but its skill is in never losing sight of the fact that this is a superhero movie.

Viewers will get everything they expect from the genre, and a cast that is fantastic, from Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan, Oscar winners Lupita Nyong'o and Forrest Whittaker, to British actors Daniel Kaluuya (Oscar nominated for Get Out) and breakthrough star Letitia Wright, only 24, who plays Black Panther's gadget obsessed little sister Shuri (please give her own superhero film), to comical effect. It is clear she is destined for even greater things.

From the costumes to the soundtrack (courtesy of Kendrick Lamar no less), the visuals - it is beautiful. And moving too.

At every turn, Black Panther offers up a new picture. Credit: AP

Marvel (now owned by Disney) knows what sells at the box office. And this film is the long overdue recognition in an industry where money talks that diversity, both racial and gender, can be great box office, overturning some obvious perceptions held for too long in the film world that they can be a turn off for audiences - see the success of the rebooted Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins.

The film world has been ridiculously slow to catch up with the real world. Early sales of tickets for Black Panther, are at a record high, the expectation is that this could be the most lucrative Marvel film yet. And that of course will be the greatest statement of all about what audiences want to see.