Review of Black Panther

blackpanther

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.

31 thoughts on “Review of Black Panther

  1. Yeah, I totally agree with you. I enjoyed the movie a lot too: but it really was overrated. There were some fun things in it, and it did feel different from a lot pf other superhero movies…but in the end it was entertaining, though certainly not as much as some of the critics made it out to be. Black Widow is finally getting her first solo movie though! It supposedly is coming out in 2020…so hopefully it’s going to be a good film. I really like that character and it has potential for a good film. As always: great post!😊😉

    • Entertaining is a good way to sum up Black Panther. Not the best Marvel movie ever, but I wasn’t bored once during its lengthy running time. Glad to hear that Black Widow is getting a long overdue movie in the future. 2020 is a long ways off, but I guess we can wait because the movie calendar isn’t exactly low on superhero releases.

    • That’s partially why I mentioned that the movie is overrated. Overall it is a good superhero flick, but I was surprised to see it get so much award acclaim when other flicks in the genre are overlooked by critics.

  2. I enjoyed this one because of its African heritage giving it a fresh take on well worn genre. I guess that comes from watching World Cinema films and not just suckling at the teat of Hollywood that I found it easier to appreciate.

    It’s not the greatest film of all time but very enjoyable, and one that needed to be made as diversity is important – and no, I’m not a PC snowflake either. 🙂

    • The setting definitely helps it stand out from other Marvel releases. If anything I wanted to see more shots of the African expanse. Wakanda itself resembled something you would find in a Star Wars film.

  3. So funny my co-worker and I was just speaking about this yesterday. It was overrated. I thought Michael B Jordan was a horrible actor. He wasn’t believable as a villain. The fight scenes was kind of lame. I did find it entertaining but it wasn’t as amazing as everyone said it was.

    • Had no idea this was out on Netflix already. Back when I tried their trial I could never find any decent movies on there. You will have no problems in spotting Stan Lee in Black Panther. He makes an amusing appearance at the South Korean casino.

      • Netflix is OK. But just OK. Some shows I want to see on Blu-Ray.
        Knights of Sidonia was a Netflix exclusive a few years ago.

        They have a lot more anime and foreign films now. For a long time I just had to “take what Netflix would give you” on Japanese anime. A lot of old stuff I might not have seen otherwise. I viewed all of the Ozu films via Neflix DVD. Where else would I see those?

        Most of the Netflix documentaries are terrible,

  4. Sorry in advanced, this is gonna be kind of a long comment.

    I was one of the day one folks that went out in droves to see the film on opening night and I absolutely loved the film. I saw it again when it made the move to Netflix, and I agree, it is not without its flaws, most of which I attribute not to the characters, but to the “Marvel” formula all of the films in the MCU seem hellbent on following. For me the idea of a film helmed by so many Black and African actors and actresses is what drew me to the film, and it’s focus on the political and ideological conflicts rather than the usual crime fighting was an interesting move. Not to say that the film completely ignored the “crime fighting” they just kind of changed the approach, it wasn’t so much about beating the big bad, but, understanding where he came from and his motivations for being “the bad guy”.

    The conflict between Eric and T’Challa is a callback to the ideological differences between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. in that you have two sides both working towards the same goal, with vastly different approaches: Eric the radical “by any means necessary” approach and T’Challa the much more politically minded “let’s not rock the boat” approach. Their viewpoints are also representative of the ongoing conflict that continues to divide the Black community to this day. T’Challa very much represents the Haves, those that have either clawed their way out of poverty and achieved some semblance of wealth/power or they were born into wealth and power and are more concerned with protecting/maintaining that wealth/power, even if that means denying others the chance to obtain the same. On the flip side we have Eric a Have Not, who grew up surrounded by all the suffering and poverty inherent in the Black community and he doesn’t have all the privileges the Wakandans and T’Challa have at their disposal. He has a desire to help, but lacks the means to do so, so his assault on T’Challa and the rest of Wakanda is born out of desperation and not so much malicious intent (don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying his methods were right, just that they were coming from a “good place”). Underneath all the bells and whistles, Black Panther is a commentary on the disparities that exist among oppressed individuals and the conflicts that arise because of it. I don’t think the film is overrated, in fact I appreciate it for opening a dialogue about social, political, and economic divides. I appreciate the fact that it was a film full of characters of color in prominent non comedic roles. And, I definitely think that when you take away the “Marvel” trappings Black Panther is a decent social commentary.

    I definitely enjoyed reading your review!!

    • I don’t blame Marvel for sticking to a formula, as it has brought them plenty of success. If it isn’t broke don’t fix it. They should however be wary of audiences getting tired of the same thing all the time, especially when they release multiple films every year.

      Great comment by the way. I thought the movie was having a dig at Trump by promoting a message that countries should open up to the world and not close themselves off. Hadn’t thought of the Malcolm X/Luther King angle. That gives the story more depth than I thought when penning this review. I didn’t like Killmonger’s aggressive approach to things, but in hindsight I live a comfortable life. Now that I think about it someone who has nothing could easily root for an underdog like him.

  5. It was a great watch but like you it wasn’t my top one. I really did like antman also and Guardians of the Galaxy. I’ve come to really appreciate the humor in these movies.
    This had decent characters but to me the antagonist was weak and I think it had to do with when we first met him it wasn’t a great set up and then he didn’t come out really until the middle.

    • I liked Guardians and Antman a lot due to the humour. Black Panther is more reserved when it comes to jokes, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some Marvel films are guilty of going overboard with gags. Out of Black Panther’s two villains I much preferred Klaue. Maybe if Killmonger hadn’t be reserved for the second half they could have fleshed him out more.

  6. I do agree somewhat in that Black Panther got a little too much love from critics, but considering how much they’ve been overrating certain films as of late, this is light years away from their biggest misfire in 2018. At least Black Panther was still ultimately good – even if it wasn’t 9/10 good. I liked it, though I’m not sure if it will make my top ten.

    • Good point. It’s better for critics to overrate a good movie, like this one, over giving plaudits to a bad one. In some cases they even bash films that most people enjoy (hence the disparity you see with reviewer/audience marks on aggregate websites.) Black Panther wouldn’t make my top five Marvel movies, but it might crack the top ten. Maybe someday, when I watch all the Marvel movies, I will rank the best ones in a blog post.

  7. I was pleasantly surprised by Black Panther but you’re right, other B list superheroes were probably more deserving of their own movie. I’d love to see more of Black Widow’s background.

    • One of my readers mentioned that Black Widow will be getting a movie after all. Hopefully we will learn more about her past there. In terms of B list heroes it seems like Marvel is working on sequels (Black Panther and Dr Strange) so it may be a while before they produce new films starring new characters.

  8. Black Widow is getting her own film, Hawkeye has his own theme song, so it’s all good.

    I enjoyed Black Panther. Maybe not as much as the Internet did, but it’s not like I get all excited and amped up by the other Marvel films either. Although I’d love to be an apprentice to the sister — she gets to play around with so much cool tech!

  9. Hello The Otaku Judge,

    I agree with your rating, and that is the same rating that I had for Black Panther.

    This movie was overhyped and overrated, I think that many reviewers were afraid not to give it a more realistic rating, I wanted and expected to like it a bit more; but it was just average to me, and I possibly liked the movie Chronicle (2012) better.

    Thank you for sharing your review,

    -John Jr

    • Maybe if the movie wasn’t so overhyped I would have enjoyed it more. Those early reviews set my expectations way too high. Yeah, maybe there was an element of political pressure making critics rate the movie so high. Out of the two films mentioned I like Chronicle more than Black Panther. Excellent film, which is saying a lot as I usually hate found footage movies.

      • Hello The Otaku Judge,

        I tried not to set my expectations very high, but all of that praise did probably impact my expectations a bit.

        Cool, we both agree on that, and many people probably have not seen it or heard of it before; I was fortunate enough to have seen it in a movie theater with one or more of my brothers after taking a risk and watching it even though I did not really know much about it.

        Thank you for responding,
        -John Jr

  10. I also thought it was okay not great, but I appreciate that others LOVE the film from a representation aspect. So I give Marvel lots of props for that.

    Yeah, Captain Marvel will probably elicit similar kind of responses, but I’m still excited to see how they bring that character into the MCU. Plus I love Brie Larson.

    • I have only seen Brie Larson in a couple of movies. Will be interesting to see how she fares headlining a superhero movie. Captain Marvel should attract the female crowd, although DC did beat them to the punch in that regard with Wonder Woman.

      • She was great in Room. She’s done smaller roles like in Scott Pilgrim vs the World. Yeah, Wonder Woman got to it first but I thought it was only a decent movie (which is a high benchmark for DC). Marvel missed the boat by not doing a Black Widow movie much sooner.

  11. What the film means to the black community helps its standing, I can’t think of another film that drew this kind of excitement. The film itself was very overrated, when I first watched it, I couldn’t help but feel like they didn’t do enough to make it as great as the hype had people believe. I’ve got to agree with you when talking about MCU top 5’s, this wouldn’t make my top 5 either.

    • The Marvel cinematic universe is packed with good stuff so not making the top five Marvel films of all time is not easy. Black Panther was still a good movie though and something that people of all races can enjoy.

  12. A movie about Black Widow could be very interesting 🙂 If memory serves me right, Black Widow has a really cool background story 😀

    I have to agree with you, a couple things in its storyline does seem a little random and strange 🙂 But if the movie is still reasonably good, I suppose it don’t really matter that much 🙂
    Great review and apologies for me latest 🙂 Life came and gave me a ridiculous amount of things to do and I’m only catching up on WordPress post now 😀

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