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Marvel’s Black Panther Review

March 7, 2018

Light spoilers for Marvel’s “Black Panther” ahead…

Over the past ten years Marvel has produced more than 18 films. For some of us (me included) that adds up to what the world is now calling “superhero fatigue.” While entertaining, the genre has a tendency to be light on substance. Many critics argue that Marvel movies, while fun, are actually quite flawed. Unmemorable soundtracks, generic color-grading and mediocre villains are the most common complaints when discussing a Marvel film.

For me, the biggest problem in any Marvel film is how a joke consistently undercuts dramatic moments – making it difficult to become invested in these stories where there should be tension. This happens a lot in Marvel’s recent movie, “Thor Ragnarok,” where nearly every scene has some type of gag. It’s a movie where Thor loses his father, his friends and Asgard, yet you don’t feel anything for him because he doesn’t seem too upset about it.

Even stranger – “Thor Ragnarok” and “Black Panther” are essentially the same movie. Both films are about sons who must right their father’s wrongs, unite friends and family and (more or less) restore order to their home. 

So imagine my excitement when I went to see a “Black Panther,” and watched director Ryan Coogler address almost every standard fare “Marvelism.”

Oh, you don’t care for Marvel’s soundtracks? Listen to Killmonger’s theme song, then try and get it out of your head.

Oh, Marvel’s villains are boring? Here’s Killmonger, a villain of great depth substance that is interesting, intimidating and multidimensional.

Oh, Marvel doesn’t know what to do with their female characters? Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia, Danai Gurira’s Okoye and Letitia Wright’s Shuri would like a word. 

Oh, the action sequences in Marvel films are generic? Here’s a gigantic final sequence with everyone involved and a unique color palette that makes it impossible to get lost in the action.

Oh, you’re tired of the out-of-place Marvel quips? Gone. While there are funny jokes in this movie, they don’t undermine the importance or emotion of the characters and the story.

In general, Marvel movies are pretty straightforward. They’re either about who a person is meant to be, or a ragtag group learning to work as a team. While this isn’t necessarily bad, it definitely contributes to “superhero fatigue.” But “Black Panther” is more than a superhero movie. It’s about people in oppressed communities, and the responsibility to uphold legacy. This is an impressive film regardless of genre.

It helps that T’Challa (played beautifully by Chadwick Boseman) has already been established in Civil War, so rather than spend time setting the lead character up, the film gets to develop and flesh out new and interesting supporting characters. This is not your typical Marvel film.

Killmonger, in my honest opinion, is the most fleshed out villain in a Marvel movie, ever. He sees a problem in the world, and has the right to criticize Wakanda’s selfishness and isolationism. While his methods might not be the right way to go about things, he isn’t necessarily a horrible person. All he understands is anger, which is his biggest strength and his biggest weakness.

Of course, you can’t talk about “Black Panther” without mentioning how great it is to have a powerful African superhero finally portrayed on the big screen. In this climate, we cannot undervalue representation and how important it is for every race, gender and community to have a character they can relate to. This is an unflinchingly black movie, featuring a black director, and a cast of some of the most talented black actors in the world. And it’s all the better for it.

I am happy to say this movie is moving, meaningful and hopefully the beginning of a new era of superhero films.

9 out of 10 – Amazing

“Black Panther” is, without a doubt, one of the strongest Marvel entries to date. Watch it, buy it on Blu Ray, then watch it again. We need more films like this.

 

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