Review of Black Panther

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The time has come for another B-list hero to get a feature film, as Marvel has already released movies based on their more iconic characters. Not that I am complaining though. Ant-Man for example showed that Marvel is capable of producing enjoyable flicks based on their more obscure properties. Black Panther’s kick ass display in Civil War impressed me a lot, so it’s good to see him get his own solo adventure. Shame that not everyone gets the opportunity to headline a blockbuster. I feel bad for the likes of Black Widow and Hawkeye. They have been around since the first phase of Marvel movies and are still awaiting their own motion picture.

OVERVIEW

Many moons ago a meteorite, rich in Vibranium, crashed on the fictional nation of Wakanda. The inhabitants used the indestructible metal to develop advanced weaponry, and a mixture that turns anyone who consumes it into a superhuman. Said concoction is fed to the land’s incumbent ruler. Along with enhanced strength and agility, Wakanda’s monarch inherits the mantle of Black Panther. I don’t understand why a mineral alone would cause Wakanda to prosper technologically. The country’s African neighbours also possess valuable resources and it hasn’t helped them develop past third world poverty. Plot wise I think an advanced alien craft crashing on Wakanda, rather than a meteor, would have made more sense. Oh well, who cares. When it comes to superpower origins Vibranium is still more plausible than an eradiated arachnid bite.

Over the course of 134 minutes the newly crowned king T’Challa has to contend with two villains. The first of these is a Vibranium smuggler named Ulysses Klaue, who is played by Andy Serkis. A strong performance from the English actor proves that he is capable of more than simply doing motion capture for CGI characters. At one point in the story T’Challa travels to South Korea, with the aims of capturing Klaue himself. What an odd thing for a head of state to do. Isn’t that a job better left for one of his minions? Black Panther isn’t exactly short on capable soldiers who are up to the task. Perhaps if T’Challa focused more on local matters he wouldn’t have to worry about losing the throne later on in the movie.

“Black” Ops soldier Erik Killmonger is the challenger who attempts to usurp control of Wakanda away from “Black” Panther. Yep, there is a lot of black in this movie. Killmonger’s crusade against Wakanda’s royal family is fuelled by vengeance, as T’Challa’s pop is the man responsible for his father’s assassination. He also plans to become commander of Wakanda’s army, so he can wage war against anyone who dares to oppress his race. I sympathise with his motivations, but not his methods. Killmonger has no respect for tradition and treats allies as disposable commodities. Michael B. Jordan, who is no stranger to the superhero genre, plays the character. Previously he was cast for the role of Johnny Strorm in 2015’s flop Fantastic Four.

VERDICT

My rating for Black Panther is a three out of five. It’s a worthy addition to Marvel Studio’s impressive live action library. Unlike other Marvel releases, Black Panther uses comedy sparingly and it doesn’t feel like a traditional superhero tale. The sequence in South Korea resembles a secret agent film, as it features spies and gadgets that wouldn’t look out of place in James Bond. For the most part the script concerns itself with politics rather than crime fighting. Will the people of Wakanda offer foreign aid or keep out immigrants with their holographic barrier? I wonder how much that cost to build. Trump cannot even secure funding to erect a regular wall at the frontier.

Despite my positive opinion of the film I must say that Black Panther is overrated. Back when the movie premiered I recall critics being very generous with their assessments. If those early write ups are to be believed Black Panther is one of the greatest movies of all time. In reality however it is good, but wouldn’t crack my personal Marvel top five. Those who champion diversity will find a lot to like in Black Panther. Apart from a cast list dominated by minorities, the final battle sees female warriors trounce their misguided male counterparts. In your face patriarchy they will cheer. Expect similar praise from that crowd when heroine Captain Marvel debuts next year. I predict said movie will put a smile on their faces… even if Brie Larson is incapable of grinning in the trailers.