Black Panther opened this past weekend to very large crowds and the strongest February Box office opening ever, surpassing Marvel’s own Deadpool. Deadpool still remains the biggest R rated movie opening in history however.
I was pretty stoked to receive a Black Panther IMAX collector ticket upon entering the show. Didn’t see that coming, nice.
This review doesn’t reveal any “spoilers” but does reveal some of the pretense of some plot elements. If you want a pure unspoiled experience, I can’t guarantee that if you read beyond this point. Honestly though if you wanted the pure experience you needed to see it on Thursday night 😉
Marvel gave us a snippet into the mystery of Wakanda in both ‘Ultron’ and ‘Civil War’. This movie however will expose it all to us. Marvel has pulled away the curtain to reveal not a tiny man pulling levers and switches, but a complex and ancient society, yet technologically sophisticated beyond most of the rest of the world. Tech that would make Tony Stark blush.
Wakanda has had access to Vibranium and we learn about how it is much more than just a super strong metal. It has almost mystical power. The Wakanda scientists have mastered the metal and have created a wide range of amazing tech, all of which they have hidden from the rest of the world for centuries. The belief was that if Vibranium and the associated tech were revealed to the world, the world would destroy itself. But some in Wakanda are starting to see things differently as the world is “catching up” to them on tech.
This movie has some nice twists. The cast is solid and the story is pretty good. I was concerned that Marvel / Disney might bury us in political propaganda but was nicely surprised to see the rhetoric was toned way down. Kudos to the producers for that.
I don’t want to spoil things for those who have yet to see this film, but I will say there are some characters I really like in the movie. I like our leading man. Chadwick Boseman pulls off the compassionate King, the insecurity of being the “new” king, and the badass. All melded together with a smooth polish.
I really enjoyed the character Shuri, played by Letticia Wright. She is part Q from MI-6 in the Bond films and part Lucius Fox from Batman. A young female in a tech role is refreshing and well done here. In fact the ladies steal the show a bit in this film and it’s about time. The entire compliment of royal guards for the King of Wakanda are double X chromosone badasses that pull off their duties to protect the king with authority, grace, and cunning. These women have excellent costumes and are led by actress Florence Kasumba and her character, Ayo.
We see the return of Ulysses Klaue in this film, that was welcome and well played by actor Andy Serkis. That isn’t really a spoiler though since he was the guy stealing the Vibranium in Avengers: Age of Ultron. So it isn’t hard to figure he’d be back in this one. I do like Klaue as a villain. I also like another villain in the film that I will not talk about here as it may be a spoiler. But you will know who it is later. He is dark, and disturbed, yet his hate is filled from a passion of love and loss. Not the best dramatic role you’ll see this year, but he is a part of a twist in the plot and I liked how it plays out right to the very end.
There are some general things I like very much about Black Panther. I do like the generous use of ladies in roles typically reserved for men. This is a bold move and for me another welcome move. This is the 21st century, and although some physiological differences exist between men and women, there are no limits to what either gender can do.
The cinematography was brilliant. I really liked the scenery and the CGI city that looked a little bit like something out of Star Wars. Overall Black Panther is a fabulous entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it manages to overcome its shortcomings with visual charm and a fine set of actors across the board. It seems to meld well with the rest of the MCU but overall I didn’t leave the house with BUZZ. I left thinking “that was a solid movie” but not, “holy shit , that’s going to the top of the list!” I do very much look forward to seeing the Panther return in Infinity War later this year. Not only is the character solid but the addition of Wakanda’s secrets should help the Avengers face the ultimate villain in a finale that represents the culmination of more than a dozen films.