Why Black Panther is good, but not great

Is Black Panther the best Marvel movie yet? No. Does it deserve the high praise it's getting from critics? Sort of. Black Panther is good, but it's not great and it's far from perfect.

The Black Panther in full costume

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Things are starting to level out following the overwhelming score it received from critics as actual fans who pay their money to see the movie start to drop their opinions online. This gives everyone a far more honest and accurate representation of how the film is being received.

You’ve got to hand it to Marvel for taking a risk on newer directors with the likes of Taika Waititi for Thor Ragnarok and now Ryan Coogler, who also directed Creed and is at the helm of Black Panther. While you can’t knock Coogler’s ability to make a stunning film I think his immaturity as a director comes through in small parts of this movie with some ordinary fight sequences and a couple of plot holes that you can charge a CGI rhino through.

What’s it about?

Black Panther sits on the Marvel timeline after the events of Civil War and sees T’Challa returning home to be crowned king of Wakanda, following the death of his father, King T’Chaka, in the bombing of the Vienna International Centre. In spite of the fact his old man has just been murdered by a terrorist, he takes it quite well and heads home for his coronation after helping Tony Stark fight Captain America. There’s a bunch of bad guys who want their own slice of Wakanda and are threatening to reveal its secrets to the rest of the world.

The nation of Wakanda is in east Africa, and on the surface it is seemingly third world, but Wakanda is the only place on earth where you can find the rare alien metal Vibranium, which is what captain America’s shield is made of and also what Ultron used to make his new body in the second Avengers movie. They’ve also got this herb that grows there that, when consumed basically makes people invincible. That’s the Black Panther’s private stash and source of his power.

Wakanda is also far more technologically advanced in comparison to the rest of the world. T’Challa’s sister Shuri runs the labs, builds the tech and is basically Tony Stark on steroids. They’ve got spaceships and cloaking devices and weapons and all sorts of amazing, out of this world technology. Which I’m wagering is going to come in very handy when the Avengers take on Thanos in Infinity War.

So there’s a few people out in the world trying to get their hands on this VIbranium, the CIA for one and also a group of bad guys headed up by Ulysses Klaue and Erik Killmonger, who would like nothing more than to get their hands on the Vibranium and turn the world on its head.

Who’s in it?

I loved the idea of this hidden advanced nation. It’s awesome stuff and it makes for what I definitely think is the most visually exciting Marvel movie I have seen. It’s so vibrant and colourful and it all looks great. But the strongest part of the movie is the cast, they are exceptional.

Lupita Nyong’o is beautiful and tough as Nakia. Letitia Wright as Shuri just makes you smile every time she is on the screen. Andy Serkis is fantastic as Ulysses Klaue. Michael B Jordan is great as Killmonger, he brings a complexity to a villain that seems more a relatable victim of circumstance and that adds a lot of depth to the story. Chadwick Boseman is fantastic as T’Challa, he really is this upstanding hero that in many ways puts the rest of the characters in the Marvel cinematic universe to shame, he has so much heart. But the best character by far is Danai Gurira as general Okoye, she is such a bad arse, and she should be, this is the woman who gave us Michonne in The Walking Dead and in this film, she steals the show.

What’s wrong with it?

There’s a lot to like in this film and it is great fun but there are some real head scratching moments, and it’s kind of hard to list them all without spoiling the plot. For starters though, Wakanada is not a democracy, to be King, you’ve got to defeat all challengers in combat which seems incredibly backwards for a society so advanced. It seems the only redeeming quality required to govern this nation and become the Black Panther is that you can beat up someone else.

There’s some great action sequences but there’s a couple of shit ones too. The first sequence where Black Panther gets to really kick arse is in the jungle, in the dark and you can’t see shit. It’s a really hard sequence to follow.

There’s the vegetarian tribe in the mountains, that live in the snow where it’s really fucking hard to grow vegetables and they are wearing fur.

There’s CGI Rhinos, in battle armour which is unbelievably stupid coming from a nation that can make spaceships.

There are people who seemingly are able to find Wakanda, which has been hidden for centuries with no map in a matter of minutes.

And then possibly the most vexing and annoying thing for me was that every opportunity for the black panther to take his mask off during a fight or action sequence is used. It’s as if part of the deal was that they had to make sure the actors face was shown at every given opportunity. And that’s dumb because when you’re watching the Black Panther kick arse, all you really want to see is the Black Panther kick arse, I know what Chadwick Boseman looks like, and he’s got plenty of screen time so I don’t know why they felt the need to keep whipping the mask on and off during the action sequences.

The verdict

All of that aside, the movie has a lot of heart and it is reasonably enjoyable. Does it live up to the hype, no. Do I think it has cultural significance, I guess, it’s pretty hard for a white guy to comment on that, although I think it does put a dent in the diversity issue that Hollywood seems to have. Honestly though I didn’t really think that much about it while I was watching the movie.

Do I think it’s important we have a black superhero, absolutely, everyone deserves a superhero that represents the best parts of them and T’Challa is awesome. I think the female characters come across far stronger than the males in this film though. T’Challa is nothing without the strong women around him. I actually didn’t care that much about him as a character until I saw him in his own movie against the backdrop of Wakanda and then it all fell into place for me. I’ll definitely be checking out some Black Panther comics after seeing this film.

At its core, it’s a big dumb popcorn movie with more heart and wholesomeness than most. It’s a shame that there were so many shaky moments in the plot but I wouldn’t let my final score deter you from buying a ticket and seeing it in the cinema, it’s what those big digital screens and surround sound are made for. You’ll definitely have a good time with this one.

Black Panther gets 3 out of 5.


2 Comments on Why Black Panther is good, but not great

  1. I saw the movie yesterday and I agree with you: it is a good movie, but does it deserve all this hype? No, I don’t think so. I did have a wonderful time, and I loved the setting of Wakanda. And I also think, exactly as you say, that the women characters are much stronger in this movie than the males. But honestly: I thought that was awesome. I am glad that Marvel keeps experimenting though..and this movie proves that they are still able to produce quality films each and every time.
    Great post!


    • I agree. I had a great time with it but when I thought about some of the flaws in the plot it really bugged me. I do think it’s one of the better Marvel movies but not the best. Maybe if they’d ditched the rhinos? 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

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