I’m going to keep the top half of this review as spoiler free as possible, have no fear though dear reader I will toss in a spoiler warning before we get to the bottom half.
I would like to start by reminding everyone that I do not watch trailers, and I do not read hype/speculation articles, so I was watching this film with absolutely no knowledge of what to expect within. I’d also like to state that I have not read a ton of Black Panther comics, mostly just a few here and there to have a very basic idea of who the character is.
With all of that out of the way, here we go!
I liked it. This is where I’ve been hoping Marvel would take their characters for years now. There were no ridiculous one liners thrown in just because and they didn’t make T’Challa a clown, or change his character at the core to try to make him funny for no discernible reason. I’m so over every single Marvel flick having to be this upbeat laugh-fest, not all heroes are funny, not all situations should be made light of, and that’s okay. Where there was humor, it was fitting of the character delivering it, and it was actually amusing, not just a visual gag on repeat (Cue Spiderman falling on his face…. again).
They did an excellent job making Wakanda feel like a real place hiding within our real world, and the characters felt genuine. There was never a moment where I was torn out of my suspension of disbelief because something totally off the wall and jarring happened (Quick, someone punch Thor!). Killmonger was threatening in a way that felt realistic without going over the top into eye roll territory, which is incredibly important, because let’s face it, we go for the heroes, but we stay for the villains.
There is a lot of action to be had in this film, and I think they did a great job with it. I can’t say I am in anyway an action flick fan, and I often find myself bored with never ending battles (wake me up when they’re done shooting at each other). That was not the case with Black Panther however, the fight scenes had great choreography, making large battles feel intense and adding pressure to even the small ones. They did an excellent job making sure everyone had their own fighting style and implementing the strengths and weaknesses those styles might contain. With the exception of one fight I’ll talk about later.
The sound track, was amazing. It fit the film perfectly, coming out miles ahead of other other films by simply being noticeable without screaming “HEY I AM THE SOUNDTRACK” in your face. I find this important to note because a good soundtrack that enhances your films action scenes without distracting from them seems to be a rare find these days, add to the fact that the songs felt like they belonged in those places and you’ve got a win in my book.
There were a few things I found disappointing, three of which I can’t talk about spoiler free, but one I will make a very large note of here. Klaue, you suck. Klaue was uninteresting, ridiculous with his incessant banter, and just all around (for lack of a better term) bleh. But, that couldn’t be enough for a villain such as Klaue, Marvel had to also do an abhorring job on his missing arm. There was a scene where he literally uses an arm he doesn’t have to push himself to his feet. I’m not sure how that got by in editing as they had to… y’know ERASE HIS ARM, or maybe they just assumed it was so quick no one would notice… Well I did, and from that point forward all I could do was stare at his not-arm and become completely disengaged with the character as a whole as I waited for the next slip up.
Over all Klaue was not enough to take away from my general positive vibe from the film, and I’m happy I saw it. I think it is an enjoyable flick with lots of interesting undertones, a ton of girl power and a message we can all take to heart. In short, go see this flick.
One final note before we get to the spoiler-filled part of the review. The 3D really didn’t do it for me. The edges were blurry, moving objects were fuzzy, and there was only one true moment where I felt the 3D truly enhanced the movie. Otherwise, it just got in the way. The guy next to me actually watched most of the movie without the glasses on. When I asked why, he pointed out that the glasses muted the colors and really darkened the movie. According to him, it was better to see a little blurriness, then a dark movie where he couldn’t see much at all.
Now… for those other disappointments.
T’Challa and Killmonger’s final fight on the vibranium tracks, well, it was lame. It started off alright, but then the tracks started coming, stopping their fight so they could stare at each other and maybe say a couple of lines. I felt like I had seen this exact thing before… in another galaxy, probably just my imagination.
This other disappointment takes a bit of background:
I am happy to say that the women in this movie were amazing. They were strong, they didn’t take any shit, not a single one of them was ashamed of their strength or intelligence, nor were there any jabs at them because of said traits from male characters. Hurray! Black Panther also took a few political jabs, none of which I will come any where near complaining about, I don’t mind things of that nature in my movies, in fact I encourage them. It’s a very real part of society, and something we are all surrounded by every day. When talking about large scale things such as whether or not Wakanda should help the world with their technology, or allow refugees in to their territory they are warranted and do not feel out of place.
Now with that information, you can piece together the fact that this film may be pushing boundaries already. So here is my question: If you’re going to push boundaries, and you’re going to take jabs, why omit Ayo’s relationship? This was a solid chance to organically implement an openly gay character into a superhero flick (while sticking to the source material might I add). Before you tell me relationships have no place in this film, we see Okoye and W’Kabi have a relationship and it doesn’t feel out of place, T’Challa and Nakia kiss on screen and have romantic tension throughout most of the film, and that’s not out of place, so why is it we draw the line at lesbians?
Representation is important, and in a film that is going to mean something to a lot of people, where you’ve already taken steps into realms others have not, it is disgraceful to purposely ignore an entire group of people, just because. But, I still feel that as a whole this film did the best with female characters in any superhero flick I have ever seen, and that is something to applaud.
I am also in favor of Killmonger’s motivation, they did an excellent job of explaining just why he is so angry, how that anger can be turned into hatred for an entire group of people, and how easy it is to spread that hatred to others, consuming them. My last big hang up with the film is about Killmonger however. Marvel, please, for the love of all that is good, STOP KILLING ALL YOUR VILLAINS! You have now effectively shut the door on decades of story line because, much like a teenager, you had to be dramatic. Just stop. Comic fans are used to the villains not dying, and somehow returning to cause trouble again, it’s cool, we like character development. If Peter Parker just offed Venom, we’d have no Carnage! Where would we be without the Joker constantly crashing through roofs on one horse open trees? Who even are these heroes without their evil counterparts? I’ll tell you, weirdos in spandex (or iron I guess), that’s it.
Despite it’s flaws I’ll go ahead and say this is the best serious Marvel film I have ever seen. I say serious because Guardians and Deadpool own my heart, but they also don’t quite feel as though they are the same category of film to me. Do yourself a favor and check this flick out, doubly so if you are as burnt out on superhero movies as I was.
Rating: 8/10. Mark my words, this movie will bust box office records.