Black Panther Review: Don't Believe The Hype?
Last week saw the premiere of Marvel's Black Panther movie, which has been kicking all kinds of butt at Rotten Tomatoes and the box office.
Black Panther is now over $500 million worldwide, and its Rotten Tomatoes score still sits at a whopping 97%, the highest of any Marvel movie (or most movies for that matter).
Various sites and celebrities, as well as fans, have been taking to social media acting as if Black Panther is the best thing sliced sliced bread.
What follows are my own opinions on the movie, but I will say that Black Panther is just another average Marvel "popcorn" flick in my mind.
I'm not judging Black Panther by its character, cast, director or location, I'm judging it by simply if it's a good movie or not.
That said, Black Panther definitely is a good movie; however, I felt it was off at times and should have been a better movie and had missed opportunities.
Now on to my thoughts!
The supporting cast was epic! Lupita Nyong'o, Letitia Wright and Danai Gurira really stole the show and were much better than Chadwick Boseman and even Michael B. Jordan. I don't know if it was intentional or not, but the ladies of Black Panther definitely outshine the boys, and as I watched the movie, I found myself wanting more from the girls and less from Black Panther and Killmonger.
Winston Duke's M'Baku was bad ass! I saw some comments online from some fans questioning why M'Baku would align himself with Black Panther following having been humiliated and defeated at the hands of T'Challa. It's pretty simple--Wakanda is one big family, and M'Baku realizes that and supports the king. M'Baku knows there is strength in numbers, and by not aligning himself and challenging T'Challa, it would have lead to defeat (which is what Michael B. Jordan's Killmonger actually did/does-- divide and conquer).
No Marvel heroes! Wow! How easily it would have been for Kevin Feige to include Robert Downey Jr. or Chris Evans in this movie? I wasn't big with RDJ being in Spider-Man: Homecoming and felt Tony Stark took a lot away from Peter Parker being Spider-Man. I was really happy to see that Feige didn't decide to throw in a cheap cameo from an Avenger or three (I'm not counting the Civil War flashback, because that already happened, so it's not new). I believe the movie never even directly spoke about the Avengers, which blew my mind, but I was happy to see it, and also happy that Black Panther felt more standalone and separate from the rest of the MCU.
Not too many goofy jokes. One good thing about not having Robert Downey Jr., Chris Pratt or Chris Hemsworth in the movie is that there weren't many of those "Marvel jokes." Black Panther was a bit more serious and more in line with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which I liked a lot. That said, there was a cheesy scene or two.*
Probably the best part of the movie was its end which featured the epic Wakandan battle as well as the battle between Black Panther and Killmonger. There were some really cool action and emotional scenes. I loved it!
I'll also say that, similar to Wonder Woman, Black Panther crushes any doubt that a movie, or even a superhero movie, can be headlined by a minority (for those that may have had any doubt).
I thought the movie was too long, with the first 45 minutes to an hour coming off as pretty boring. My 13-year-old actually fell asleep - I kid you not - and I had to wake him up in the theater. I kept checking my phone to see the time, and when things started picking up, it was somewhere around the 1-hour mark.
The special effects also didn't look that good for a Marvel movie, or any movie for that matter. When the ship first was shown and entered Wakanda, it literally looked like someone cut and pasted an image from photoshop and used it as footage. I can't believe I'm saying this, but the special effects on Marvel's Agents of SHIELD come off better. I think the problem in part was that the color of the ship was too uniform as it came off looking really "budget" and fake.
Bad Jokes. *I think the worst joke of the movie was when the Queen and Princess found out their husband and father died, and then we got the middle finger joke? Huh? What's next? Thanos kills Captain America in The Avengers: Infinity War and someone makes a joke? This is Marvel popcorning at their best, guys!
I also wasn't happy with the Black Panther car chase scene in South Korea. It didn't look good at all, reminded me of Batman in Suicide Squad, and that *scene when the car was ripped apart and then surfed the street (or whatever) was cringe-inducing. I didn't like any of the South Korea scenes, and I felt it could have been cut in its entirety and we wouldn't have missed a beat.
Likewise, both Klau and Everett Ross could have been cut from the movie, and we wouldn't have missed a thing.
Let me guess? Ross was used instead of Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury because Martin Freeman is a white dude? I could care less about diversity and needing white people in the movie (all two of them). A good movie is a good movie. Nick Fury would have been a better choice IMO and would have been a cool connection between the MCU, Black Panther and the Avengers. I also found myself saying, "Wait? Aren't the CIA bad guys?" My son and I also thought they could have easily used someone from Wakanda to "fly" the plane and destroy the ships, so Ross wasn't needed, but the convenient plot element was added to give Ross something to do and a reason to include him.
I thought Andy Serkis' Klau was awful. I wasn't big on the character in Avengers 2, but at least they gave comic fans a cool nod in Black Panther by giving Klaue a sonic arm blaster. I suppose I wasn't the only one who didn't like the character as he was killed off, which I was surprised and happy to see. Which leads me to...
Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger!
Oh, Marvel's villain woes! Marvel just can't get their villains right! Zack Snyder is absolutely right when he says Marvel movies are "popcorn" flicks, which is, IMO, mainly because the villains aren't developed enough. There was huge opportunity missed here to give us a villain on the scale of Heath Ledger's Joker from Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. Instead? We got Michael B. Jordan showing up in Wakanda going, "Bruh! I want to be king!" I remember thinking to myself how awful and forced Killmonger's dialogue came off. My son said the same, and we both felt it was cringe-inducing. I think Marvel should have given us a lot of backstory on Killmonger. What I mean by that is they should have showed us not told us! It's the #1 rule in writing! Show don't tell! We were told how Killmonger was a bad ass, went through all this training, killed all these people--and then he was "Bruh, I am king" Ughh! I will say, once Killmonger actually became king, it was all uphill from there. Also, Killmonger's death scene was well done, and I found myself (at times) actually rooting for Killmonger over Black Panther. Now I wish Killmonger would have survived! I thought they should have ditched South Korea, Klaue and Ross and given us more about Killmonger.
One thing that did confuse me was Killmonger's motivations. One scene he is blaming the outsiders (white people?), and then the next he is blaming Black Panther. Which is it? Also, why did he wait so long to get revenge? Why not get revenge on the actual person that killed your father? Was he getting revenge on the outsiders (white people?)? Black Panther? It didn't make too much sense how it all played out. "B'ruh, I want to be king."
Speaking of rooting for Killmonger, am I the only one who found Black Panther (the character) to be really bland? Was there much to him? I didn't think so. The movie also basically repeated itself by giving us the same scenes when Black Panther is challenged for the throne. Black Panther even gets stabbed in both instances! LOL. Maybe there was too much emphasis on the supporting cast?
New Black Panther suit. I wasn't a big fan of the Black Panther suit that envelops the body. I preferred the suit from Captain America: Civil War. I also didn't like the use of the purple color and would have preferred straight black, but I suppose then it would have been difficult to see on the big screen. I'm not sure about that.
Black Panther vs Killmonger final fight. So Killmonger has no trouble besting Black Panther without powers, but when given powers, Black Panther wins? I argued with my son about it, but he came up with the response that the final fight was on Black Panther's home turf, so I suppose he is right and Black Panther had the advantage. I'll give him that.
Black Panther Post-credit scenes
I felt they were just okay. I also thought, they too, were not needed and wouldn't have been missed. The UN scene was cringe-inducing. It's another Hollywood "unite the world" mumbo jumbo theme. I'll say, I hope the rest of the Marvel movies don't feature all the Wakandan tech, flying cars, etc. as it will make the MCU look a lot different than our world.
The Winter Soldier scene was decent enough I suppose, and to me, it basically came off as an explanation as to why Bucky will be in Avengers: Infinity War without having to go into his backstory. Saves a lot of time, I guess. Convenient.
Black Panther is a good movie. Not a great movie.
I don't think it's a "97%" on Rotten Tomatoes. There are plenty of other comic book movies that are a lot better (Iron Man, Superman, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, X-Men, X-Men 2, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Deadpool, Wonder Woman, Logan, Doctor Strange, etc), but I think what it did was it brought another B or C list Marvel character and made him an A-lister. Now if all those people on social media who gushed about the movie actually bought the comic!
For another take on Black Panther, check out Lawrence's formal review.