Leading up to the release of “Black Panther,” there was almost an insurmountable level of hype among superhero fans and casual moviegoers alike. Between the popular characters, its place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and nearly all-black cast, it seemed the internet was going to burst at the seams with “Black Panther” excitement. And I’m proud to say that Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther delivers. The movie isn’t perfect, but it’s unique, exciting and has some of Marvel’s best sets and characters yet.
First of all, “Black Panther’s” characters and setting blew me away. “Black Panther” is the story of T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, and between the writing and Boseman’s performance, they bring to the table Marvel’s most character-driven story to date. The home of T’Challa is Wakanda, which is heavily inspired by afrofuturism, giving the movie one of the franchises most unique and interesting settings. The costuming, sets, props and locations sell Wakanda so well that you walk out of the theater with a distinct idea of Wakandan culture, something other fictional worlds often fail to do.
Despite all that this movie does right, there are still a few issues. For me, the two standout problems were a few pacing issues early in the movie, and some noticeable use of CGI (Computer Generated Images) during fight scenes. The pacing issues stem from a slow first half and a very compacted and plot-heavy later act. The movie’s main villain makes minimal appearances in the first half of the movie, and the pacing suffers from this. At points, it almost feels like this could have been split into two different movies. My problem with the CGI is mostly apparent in action sequences where Black Panther is running around. The CGI makes Black Panther appear almost rubbery as he jumps through these scenes, and it felt a little out of place.
One of the best parts about Black Panther is how it solves many of the problems that previous Marvel movies often suffer from. In general, movies in the MCU have bland soundtracks, lackluster color palettes, weak third acts, poorly written female characters and most importantly uninspiring and boring villains. I’m happy to say the Black Panther addresses and fixes all of these issues. The film is bursting with color, its third act is exciting and conclusive, and T’Challa is surrounded by strong female leads. The soundtrack is unique, mixing classic African instruments and beats with modern hip-hop and rap. They enlisted the help of Kendrick Lamar for some of the music, which is so good it’s almost cheating.
But most importantly, Black Panther gave us Marvel’s most impressive villain to date: Erik Killmonger. Played by Michael B. Jordan, Killmonger is not only well acted, but extremely well written. He’s one of the only Marvel villains who not only has understandable motives, but elicits emotional reactions from the audience at the end of the film. Killmonger is three dimensional, with relatable motive and a logical goal, but most importantly he is a villain that raises questions for the audience and causes change in the protagonist. Michael B. Jordan’s performance was fantastic, and Erik Killmonger was a delight to watch.
For me, Black Panther has delivered on the hype. It proved that genre fatigue is really only caused by repetitive movies and by breaking the Marvel mold Black Panther brought and extremely new and refreshing experience to the theater. It has a great cast, great setting, and tells a great story. Even with a few issues, Black Panther is still a fantastic film. It’s fun, has important and relevant themes, fits into the MCU and is a really enjoyable watch.
The Parkway West Pathfinder gives Black Panther a 8/10.