Black Panther – Review


Black Panther is a hell of a milestone for the MCU at this point, considering that it is not only the first of these films to be fronted by a black superhero and a predominantly black cast, but it is also the final film in prep before the Infinity War, which will premiere in April. Black Panther may not be making his first appearance in the MCU, having appeared in 2016 Captain America Civil War, but we only really got a sense of the character, we didn’t get a sense of his world, for a lack of a better term. Not that the MCU hadn’t mentioned various factors around Black Panther, for example Age of Ultron featured a fight scene in the fictional African nation of Wakanda.

As for the director’s chair, this time we have got Ryan Coogler, who also co-developed the story, which I am fairly convinced that he got the job off the back of the success of Creed, which I previously reviewed, and if you don’t recall my review, I gave it a very favourable review and said that I thought Black Panther was safe in his hands. But that being said, Ryan Coogler has not directed that many big films, in fact, prior to Creed, he had only directed Fruitvale Station. Granted, it’s not as if Black Panther is the only thing he has worked on, he did direct some episodes of scenes for Minors, but I get a sense that he has had complete creative control this time around, since he’s got a writing credit, which he is sharing with Joe Robert Cole who has written a couple of episodes of American Crime Story, of which he is a long time producer.
So, how does Black Panther close up the gap of the MCU leading into Infinity War.
Well, basically Black Panthers plot is pretty much following on from Civil War, none of the events of any of the films that happened last year are directly references, ie. Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Spiderman Homecoming and Thor Ragnarok. T’Challa, aka the Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman is travelling back to his home nation of Wakanda, a nation appearing third world to the outside, but has actually been making technological advances thank to the nations rich supply of the ultra-rare and powerful metal Vibranium. Now being crowned King following his father’s death in Civil War, T’Challa’s takes his place on the throne, however, he is also trying to use his connections to take down their most wanted criminal, Ulysses Klaue, played by Andy Serkis, you may remember him as one of the arms dealers in Age of Ultron. He is receiving assistance, however, from American half Wakundun terrorist Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B Jordan, who has his own plans for his return to Wakunda to take down T’Challa and steal the throne from him.

Black Panther has got to be one of the most brisk Marvel films I have seen in a while. The film definitely does not feel like it has the two hour fifteen minute running time that it is confirmed to have. Maybe it’s getting to a stage where these Marvel films have gotten too formulated that they seem to be brisking through them. It also seems like many actors are now getting their characters killed off because they don’t want to be tied down to contracts, without giving too much away, I am beginning to notice that many are signing up for roles which they will not be able to return from. Black Panther, however, is a pretty good film. Despite the fact that it doesn’t feel like a nearly two and a half hour film, it doesn’t feel like a film that I am bored at any point watching or I am annoyed at any point watching. It actually kind of fits the characters quite well since this film feels very isolated from the MCU. There’s no real cameos from any of the Avengers at this point in the film and most of the film takes place in the fictional African nation. In fact, the only connection to the MCU are some flashbacks to events in Civil War and the inclusion of Martin Freeman playing Everett K Ross, his character from Civil War, who finally gets a more prominent role in this film, which I am personally quite glad for, since I was actually wondering what was the point in bringing Martin Freeman into this very minor role in the MCU that didn’t have much room for him to expand was, considering how much of a big name he has become with the success of both Sherlock and the Hobbit Trilogy.

The main Superhero, however, is one that I am actually enjoying this time around. I haven’t read much Black Panther, but I am aware of the character and I especially enjoyed the character in The Avengers Animated Series, Earth’s Mightiest Hero’s. However, I think some people might be disappoint by just how much Black Panther there is in this movie, considering he is not on screen in the costume for that many scenes. However, when he is, they really are some of the best scenes of the film. I am also kind of amazed by just how well the story kind of sets up its cast of character, its location and its story line. The MCU films have always had an issue of feeling like they have been trying to pander to the whole shared Universe concept at the expense of its own film. Something that Black Panther does not get wrong where a film like Batman V Superman did get wrong with its respective shared Universe and particularly in the case in The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise, which attempted to set up its dark Universe. This actually rather surprised me in a sense considering that I was expecting there to be some massive tie-ins to Infinity War, but it is surprisingly self-contained, which I found even more surpising considering that judging by the trailers, Wakunda is going to play a big part in Infinity War and considering how big the cast of characters are going to be for that film, you can only imagine.

The side characters in this film are all genuinely rather interesting, though I think the scene stealing character is Nakia, played by Lupita Nyong’o who could easily have just been a generic love interest, but is actually proved to be one helluva ass kicking machine. I would also like to point out Okoye, played by Danai Gurira, who really throws herself into this performance and of course we have our comic relief from T’Challa’s sister Shuri who is played by Letitia Wright, who you may recognise from being in an episode of Black Mirror, and luckily her career has recovered after being in The Commuter. I also was surprised to find the Oscar nominated actor Daniel Kaluuya, as W’Kabi in this, who played the lead role in Get Out, which earnt him the Oscar nomination. He has proven that not only can he do an American accent he apparently can do a very good African accent as well. The side characters deliver some interesting and various contributions to the performances, but they don’t detract from the main Superhero. Now I will give Black Panther credit on one thing, it does try to address one of the problems the MCU has had up to this point, and tries to have a good balance between the hero and the villain, since past villains have been ‘not exactly great’ and I will admit that Michael B Jordan does his best to deliver a good performance and play a good version of Killmonger. Killmonger was a good choice of villain and they kept most of his origin story intact, with a slight few tweeks to make it a more personal story to T’Challa, but I digress. The problem is that I think with a lot of focus on him, we realise his plan makes no sense! Without spoiling anything, he is expecting to do something that would be something very big that wouldn’t have any consequences with the outside world and has no guarantee of actually working. They definitely got down the character’s motivation well, but let’s just say, I will not be adding him to the list of the MCU villains that I really like, such as Wilson Fisk in Daredevil, Killgrave in Jessica Jones, Loci from Thor and the Avenger’s movies and Zemo from Captain America Civil War.

Ok, so the villain is not that great but I will say they get the hero story down well. I was wondering if they could get a decent character arc out of Black Panther, since they got such a big character arc out of him in Captain America Civil War, I am pleased to say, however, they get a very good arc out of him and it’s a very personal one. Something I think the MCU has kind of struggled with outside of the Captain America films. You can’t criticise the MCU for getting its hero’s right and its villains not so well when it is working quite well at this point in time and I do keep enjoying these films coming back. Plus Chadwick Boseman delivers an excellent performance in this role.

Right, let’s get to the action scenes. They don’t start out very well at all, with some very appalling editing, but they do fix it up later down the line along with some excellent scenes. A tracking shot with a fight scene in a casino springs to mind and for the most part the action scenes are well and contain some awesome set pieces. But, here’s my big advice for the love of God, DO NOT SEE THIS FILM IN 3D. I saw the film in 2D, there were some scenes that were shot so dark I was struggling to tell what was going on and I believe if you were wearing the 3D glasses, the darkening effect of them would make it almost impossible to see. I suspect many of the scenes work quite well in the third dimension, but I would not recommend it in that format.

Black Panther is a very good entry into the MCU franchise, something I dramatically enjoyed and was a good film to keep me going until Infinity War comes out in a couple of months. It has some decent action scenes, the storyline is pretty good, if not having a bit of a weak villain, since his plot doesn’t make much sense and the acting is all round pretty good. Especially considering that many of the scenes had to be acted in kosser. (Please note I don’t actually know if it was kosser, but I detected a hint of it, I apologise if I got that wrong). This is one of the better Superhero films to come out in recent memory and I really liked it.

I am moving away from Marvel next week and I am going to DC as I go back to my yearly tradition of reviewing all the DC Animated films, by reviewing Batman, Gotham by Gaslight.

Thanks a lot for reading my review. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it and at least I got to review the film I said I was going to review this week!!
Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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The Next Axia29th May 2024
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