BLACK PANTHER REVIEWED
“Black Panther” is the film you were ordered to like by the endless army of retweeters, blind comments and general riff-raff. Well, that’s when you could get an opinion into the mix. Most of the audience was spent watching the Alt-Right have meltdowns over potential Rotten Tomatoes’ scores. Then, you got to have people sharing and re-posting every single cultural snippet about the potential significance of this film. While those two factions fought each other, as they are inclined to do…I tried to get readers into reading the comics. People do need something to read when you’re ignoring the online battles of who can be the loudest social media jackass.
I had a piece about Black Panther at that awful other site, but it appears they scrubbed it. So, watch as I remake that material for a future installment of the Avengers Project (coming before Infinity War hits screens). For now, let’s focus on the film. Beginning with a sequence set in the past, one can’t help but pick up on the Singer style homages that appear throughout the film. It’s kinda neat to see modern Marvel Studios lean heavy into the early FOX work. Between the pumping Urban soundtrack, the plot structure and the push to have a giant ensemble…this can’t be a coincidence. Who knew that the aesthetic from Blade, the X-series and even a smidge of Daredevil would return?
The heart of the film is a continued origin, as it’s hard to introduce a character like Black Panther in the middle of a Captain America movie. For the comic nerds, the origins of the Panther’s powers and Vibranium remain 100% intact. The Djalia gets loosely touched upon, as well as the hostile factions that constitute Wakanda. If that wasn’t enough, the film also has to handle the dangling issue of Klaue (Klaw). Chadwick Boseman continues to do the thankless legwork of getting audiences familiar enough with a character that had to wait 50 years to make a major media bow.
It’s weird seeing Boseman stuck in a position not that different than what Christian Bale had to do in Batman Begins. The difference being that Bale got to relay on the familiarity of Batman as opposed to the widely unknown nature of the Black Panther. It’s not a fun role yet, so it makes sense that early audiences are gravitating towards Michael B. Jordan’s performance of Killmonger. Eric Killmonger is a huge part of the Panther mythos and has been incredibly hit and miss in the comics. The film finds its legs by turning him into BLM Magneto. Marvel villains always work best when you can understand their point of view.
Naturally, a healthy portion of the population is going to take issue with Killmonger’s grand plan. If you haven’t read anything with the Panther before, Killmonger’s plan will seem insanely timely. That being said, it’s a sticking point that Marvel keeps neglecting over the years. When Magneto came to power, he invited the attacked mutants to live with him in the glory of Genosha, Avalon, Asteroid M, Utopia, etc. The Black Panther and his Wakandan Ancestors have had CENTURIES to make the same goodwill invitation to any neglected group. Naturally, this pisses off Killmonger and we get the typical challenge for leadership.
The world of Wakanda is robust and flushed out to a degree I never expected to see on film. Honestly, I can’t help but see how this film isn’t already in contention for next year’s FX Oscar. In regards to the storyline, it did what it had to do. The film could’ve been better, but even James Bond didn’t start on “Goldfinger”. When you’re introducing a character and his world to the masses, it takes time to create a bigger picture. The bigger picture hinted at in the mid credits sequence made me want to see THAT movie now.
As for the film we received, it’s going to appeal to the right people. It’s also going to piss off the people that need to be pissed on. But, it is a placeholder for great things to come. Letitia Wright is stunning as Shuri. While I was never a big fan of the character in the comics, I want more Shuri scenes in Infinity War now. The film did its job better than the Panther snippets in Civil War. But, it’s very by-the-numbers and will quickly be eclipsed by future sequels. With that said, you should head out this weekend and see in theaters. This is going to play great with a packed crowd.
- 2 hrs and 14 mins