Black Panther

MLD-01496_R.JPGThe Marvel Cinematic Universe is so bloated at this point that Marvel usually crams as many superheroes as possible into the “solo” movies in between Avengers instalments.  For example, Iron Man pops up in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Falcon briefly gets in Ant-Man‘s way, and everyone other than Cap and Bucky in Captain America: Civil War are clearly uninvited guests.  The result is that every movie is more or lScrooge-McDuck-Money-Biness the same movie.  Clearly, that’s Marvel’s goal with a shared universe as that way, we movie-loving rubes have to see them all, and throw even more cash into Disney’s money bin (which by now must be bigger than Scrooge McDuck’s).

Black Panther is different than those other movies.  It feels fresh.  This is a side of the Marvel Universe we have not seen, with new characters, new challenges, and new disputes.  There are no distractions in the form of random heroes from other movies (full disclosure: there are two supporting characters we’ve seen before but I am willing to overlook that, because both felt like they belonged).  Instead, we are introduced to a whole host of new characters who we quickly feel like we’ve always known, thanks to director/co-writer Ryan Coogler’s stellar work (he’s now three for three in his young career, having already giving us Fruitvale Station and Creed).  Refreshingly, none of these new characters are white, and the female characters are just as important as the men (and maybe even more so).

Best of all, this part of the MCU is not based on good versus evil.  Most of the “bad guys” aren’t bad at all, and the biggest bad, Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger, is one of the most complex villains we’ve ever seen in a superhero movie.  I’d put him second only to Sir Ian McKellen’s Magneto (and that’s a largely unfair comparison because Magneto has been both hero and villain throughout his 55 year career) and well ahead of Heath Ledger’s Joker (who for all his awesomeness is essentially one-dimensional in that his goal was simply to destroy everything). Rather than having a standard comic-book focus, the conflict in Black Panther stems from a substantial philosophical and political question, the answer to which shapes your view of the world.  This is nationalism versus globalism, superhero style, which means that rather than choosing and lobbying elected officials who then debate and vote on these important issues, these weighblack-panther-comic-con-25jul16-02ty disputes in Black Panther are resolved through lots of punching and kicking (which, for all its flaws, is clearly a more efficient political system than the one the USA is currently using).

Black Panther does absolutely everything right.  This is essential viewing and, along with Wonder Woman, shows why diversity in Hollywood is so valuable.  It’s not about political correctness at all.  It’s because a fresh perspective and cultural diversity makes the movie-going experience that much more real and, moreover, provides vitality and energy to a genre that otherwise has been beating the same horse for the last ten years.

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53 thoughts on “Black Panther

  1. Mr. Bobinsky

    Wow! Now I’m superexcited for this. I’d also mention Watchmen while discussing Joker and Magneto. It was an interesting political and philosophical insight too, even if not everyone may love Zack Snyder.

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    1. Sean Post author

      Watchmen is an excellent comparison as far as themes and complex characters. Black Panther is a better movie though, and I have to blame Snyder for that because Watchmen’s source material is certainly not to blame!

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  2. joel watches movies

    “Black Panther does absolutely everything right. This is essential viewing and, along with Wonder Woman, shows why diversity in Hollywood is so valuable. It’s not about political correctness at all. It’s because a fresh perspective and cultural diversity makes the movie-going experience that much more real and, moreover, provides vitality and energy to a genre that otherwise has been beating the same horse for the last ten years.”

    Hear hear- well said, Sean!! Really looking forward to watching this one.

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    1. Jay

      I liked this because it didn’t feel like a Marvel movie and it hardly felt like a super hero movie. They did a great job of making him feel like a real person, grappling with real conflict. And yeah, he kicks ass when the mask comes on (I also love the female warriors who kick ass without any super powers!).
      I loved the world building and wished we’d seen more of it. I love how it pulls in so many familiar aspects from African culture yet still feels kind of magical and distinct. I thought the villain was effective because he had a real story and also felt really human. In fact, there were quite a few supporting characters who had substantial, meaty roles, which didn’t take away from our hero but added to his world.
      I loved the costumes and the music and I love that we kept touching base with reality, back in Oakland. It felt a lot more ‘real’ than any of the other Avengers movies.

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    1. Sean Post author

      I wasn’t as excited as I should have been. I didn’t realize until recently that Ryan Coogler was in charge. Once I found that out I was eager to see it and it was well worth my time!

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  3. InkTank Studios

    Awesome review. We have our tickets all ready for the whole family to catch it opening weekend (Saturday though, so the kids can go too). I’m hyped for it, but it is weird to see how many people are dismissing it with a “well, he’s not the first black superhero.” or “Blade did it first.” I touched on these issues in a little write up I did recently:
    https://beardedcoffeemonkey.com/why-is-black-panther-important/

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    1. Sean Post author

      That’s a really good summary of what sets Black Panther apart. He is a hero that can compete with anyone else out there, he’s a guy who tries to do what’s right, and I liked that a lot of the conflict in the movie is due to his struggle to figure out what the right thing is, which is missing from a lot of superhero movies due to them being so formulaic and cliched.

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  4. Dan

    Nice piece of writing. It’s interesting to read what all the fuss is about Black Panther having largely grown tired of the MCU. But it seems this is the film to draw me back in. And you’re right – Coogler hasn’t put a foot wrong with Fruitvale and Creed so it’s great to hear he’s now “3 for 3”!

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    1. Sean Post author

      I think this is the perfect Marvel movie for people tired of Marvel movies. And since it’s a totally standalone film, you can go see it and then take the rest of the year off!

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  5. sportsattitudes

    Cautious optimism as Friday approaches. There’s been an avalanche of love thrown this film’s way and I’m trying to keep my expectations modest just in case. Huge fan of the comic universes that have been created to-date…Marvel more so than DC on the film side. Looking forward to it.

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  6. badblokebob

    I loved this too. I thought it felt fresher than Wonder Woman, which (as I think we’ve discussed before) I liked but felt was somewhat “the same, but with a woman”. Perhaps that’s unfair (I still need to rewatch it), but I only occasionally felt that way during Black Panther.

    Marvel need to stop shoehorning characters into films where they don’t belong, but Serkis and Freeman fit so smoothly here that I wonder if this time it was done in reverse — as in, maybe Freeman was retrofitted into Civil War to setup this appearance, and it didn’t even matter that we’d met Serkis before. If Marvel kept their other crossovers as light/subtle it might make them entertaining easter eggs rather than in-film advertisements!

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  8. revakaneri

    I loved the review because it says everything I feel too, i feel it was one if most realistic superhero’s in MCU. As a fan its heart touching to know we are so close to infinity war, and such a beautiful piece of film is out which have to go watch it again, cant imagine how mind blowing infinity war will be.
    Do check my review on black panther too. ❤️

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      1. Sean Post author

        It is nice to see and also nice that Marvel is getting rewarded for making that effort, since this is now the highest grossing superhero movie of all time!

        Liked by 1 person

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  10. Benjamin Woolridge

    I think Gal Gadot was awesome in Wonder Woman but I was nonplussed with the movie itself. Spiderman: Homecoming seemed more like Marvel was hedging its bets by having Iron Man appear because the movie for me didn’t gain traction until much later on. But I agree with you concerning Black Panther. I also think that DC comics either needs to go big or go home. Marvel is wiping the floor with them. Still, I’m a fan of both.

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  11. heromngmnt

    I have to disagree with you. Keeping it only in MCU: however different Black Panther is compared to other films, you connect the happenstance of characters and the story to the marketing and it’s not okay. Civil War had an incredible impact on superhero films and completely fresh story. If there were no one audience cares about, it wouldn’t be such a powerful picture. And then, after everything, they do connect in the comics and it has always been amazing to see these collaborations. The same goes with Spidey. Who’d be better to be his mentor than Tony? 😉
    In Black Panther though, there is a powerful image shown. You say about the film being not political but then you praise the story which is totally political. The biggest case in Black Panther was the importance to help others and patriotism. This is a film where the first role went to Wakanda itself. And then, Killmonger got his 30 seconds introduction which made him more understandable than most MCU villains but… Thinking about it more and more his reasons were simple and he was not better than Fisk from new DD, for example.
    What I agree with, though is that we need diversity in big films and I look forward more fresh ideas there, too.
    Cheers!

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  12. evywrites

    Agree on everything you said! It is in my opinion a typical superhero film but you only it is a marvel film after the end credits.. and the bad guy is not that bad. His actions good be better though

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  13. Christopher

    Finally saw it this weekend and was struck by something. While Black Panther’s origin story is very distinctive and it was great to see a film with an almost entirely non-white cast the first part of the film seemed to be following a very standard superhero template.
    I felt disappointed. I wanted to see more than the same superhero movie redone with a different, albeit more diverse, cast.
    And then there was a completely unexpected turn and suddenly it was a very different film. As you say, Killmonger is one of the most complex villains we’ve ever seen and the story was challenging in a way that most other superhero movies aren’t.
    And I realized that was an extended metaphor that played out through the entire film, starting with Wakanda itself: nothing is as simple as it appears to be from the outside.

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  14. Impacting Every Life Positively

    I too was a big fan of Killmonger and every female character in the movie depicted strength and intelligence, something we don’t get to see often in blockbuster films.

    The soundtrack was incredible. I’ve had “Killmonger” on repeat for a couple of hours now and even wrote a short poem with it playing in the background.

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