First of all, I hate movie reviews because the ones I disagree with are wrong, and the ones that I agree with are ones that I obviously didn’t need to read because I watched the damn film. Secondly, if you clicked on this because of the provocative title, then congratulations: you’ve been successfully clickbaited. I would like to add, however, that my opinions on most forms of entertainment are unparalleled in the blogging industry. With this context, I will move to provide you with my thoughts on the newest addition to the Marvel Universe, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther.
The Black Panther has certainly been an underutilized resource for Marvel. I mean, he really has always been one of the coolest characters: king of an extremely wealthy and advanced nation? Yep. Wears a bulletproof super-suit? Sure. Claws people to death? Hell yeah. Further, I just think Wakanda, a technologically-advanced kingdom in Africa which is cut off from all outside influence, is a really unique concept in today’s popular culture.
I’ll go ahead and address the elephant in the room, which is that I’m guessing the black community is going to see more in this movie than I did. The movie addresses several racial themes and, in the interest of full transparency, I admit that my white self can’t really relate to them. But the movie succeeds at incorporating them while retaining the spirit of what the movie really is: a kickass superhero flick. Was I a bit uncomfortable at a few points? Yes. Was that the intention? I presume so.
This movie is considerably darker than other Marvel movies. A ton of civilians get straight up shot or stabbed and die on camera. There’s one scene in which a man gets executed and the whole theater (myself included) died laughing. I have no clue how the production crew managed to make the cold-blooded murder of an innocent man hilarious– but they did.
I won’t pretend that everything in the movie made sense, but considering this is a cinematic universe in which an Elon Musk-Bill Gates hybrid flies around the world in a metal body suit, I’m willing to suspend my disbelief at most points. That said, I have a few gripes (spoilers ahead). There’s a point in the movie at which most of Wakanda turns against T’Challa (the Black Panther’s real name) because the bad guy (Killmonger) challenges him to a duel for the throne. The bad guy wins, T’Challa loses, and the Black Panther is presumed dead. When it’s revealed that he isn’t actually dead, one of his lifelong friends (who commands the army) still tries to kill him because… well, I’m not really sure. Ostensibly, it’s because T’Challa didn’t kill the guy that killed the friend’s parents, but Killmonger did. It just doesn’t seem like a reason to turn on one of your oldest friends.
Speaking of the guy Killmonger killed, his name was Ulysses Klaue. Klaue was a pretty impressive villain: crazy, smart, cybernetic arm cannon, the usual. I was sorry to see Klaue go, and I think the decision to have Killmonger double-cross him in the middle of the movie wastes an opportunity to show the extent of his insanity. I also thought it was strange that Killmonger went ahead and killed off his own girlfriend. I guess this was to indicate that Killmonger would stop at nothing to achieve his plan, but the development was presented in a pretty choppy manner.
Despite the few weird points, this movie is top-tier, especially among the Marvel movies. In addition to the Black Panther, the bald warrior women bodyguards, the aforementioned cybernetic arm cannon, shaman/priest Forest Whittaker, and armor-plated war rhinos add to the film’s technological depth and general bad-assery. I was also a big fan of Shuri, who’s the Black Panther’s 16-year-old sister and Wakanda’s chief scientist. A hyper-intelligent teenage girl is another fairly unique aspect of the movie which was quite refreshing. And did I mention the war rhinos?
Go see this movie. Ben Shapiro’s probably going to have a review out soon (or maybe it’s out now) about how the movie is racist toward white people, but he’d be wrong. If you’re a whitey, you can get over the uncomfortable parts and maybe even learn something (i.e. get woke); and I think everyone can enjoy when a dude in a cat suit starts beating the shit out of villains. Wakanda Forever.