I had plenty of issues to write about Black Panther because it can get from nice to rough in seconds. There were a lot of expectations that made these grounds pretty unsafe. So let’s focus on the film itself. Then maybe, just maybe, share some opinions about its influence. After all, we’re cool, right?
After leaving the cinema, I had concerns. I was wondering if what I’d just seen was good or not really. It is not the best film in MCU. Is it a good film, though? Short answer: yes. But not the way you’d expect it.
The plot is not the greatest asset here. Especially the second half seems like too many ideas mixed, cut and spit out. The main path is pretty obvious and it gave me the most bitter taste afterwards. But the more I thought about this, the more layers I could count. The sole idea of Black Panther, the characters, the subjects it picks up and everything it does to my eyeballs – It makes it worth watching.
Because it is not a film about King T’Challa and his super adventures. It’s a film about Wakanda and patriotism. And it shows problems no other hero could. So here we are, in the middle of Africa, in the country so advanced, no Stark can beat it. Screenwriters gave Wakanda a lot of thought to make it both traditional and technically advanced. The main view of it was already shown in the trailers, but there’s plenty of surprises underneath. Creating a country which will somehow differ from any other advanced ones but be in the middle of Africa at the same time is a different challenge than in any comic. For a character living over 50 years, a lot changed, especially in technology. So there was no question, it had to get an upgrade to be accurate.
Wakanda is a country of traditions and beliefs. Based on many African tribes and history (Bast, for instance, can be nothing other than a cat goddess from ancient Egypt), it does have a sense of belonging and I would actually believe in its existence. It is a country of shepherds, but with a twist. Its science is on par with tradition. This is something so rare, impossible even, in modern civilisations. Black Panther describes a utopian metropolis where everyone is so peaceful and wants the best for their country. It does sound greatly unrealistic, but the film is basically killing this idea one step at a time.
The visuals are beyond imagination. I loved what vibranium can be used for and all the fancy new toys fitting the African style. The costumes and cinematography are seriously crazy and I loved every bit of it. Sadly there’s a but. Some CGIs and computer generated movement feel completely unrealistic. The fight on the train tracks, for instance. I couldn’t bear the look of it.
Nonetheless, choreographs did well. All the fight scenes are trying to act like one-camera, one-cut thing and I haven’t seen it happening recently. Even Marvel took a step back with doing more dynamic fight scenes, cut into tiny pieces, which made my head spin.
“The sidekicks” of T’Challa basically stole the whole film. Magnificent Danai Gurira as Okoye (also known as Michonne from The Walking Dead) is a pearl. Her character is bold, brave and has strong beliefs. She knows what she fights for, she knows her place and she protects what she holds dear. At the same time, she isn’t just a plain soldier. There’s a lot of personality to it and she is nothing like Michonne (maybe except being a complete badass).
Right next to her, Lupita Nyong’o is showing the reason why she got that Oscar. Her Nakia might be the least expressive from the three but definitely not blank. She has values she tries to protect, she’s got a huge heart and wants to help the world as much as she can, placing her own life as less important. The last from them – Shuri, my personal favourite, is something I missed in MCU. It’s a character a lot of girls will look up to. A smartass and force of nature. I can’t think of her without a smirk on my face.
What about the boys? Definitely not as vivid as the pretty sex but not necessarily worse. We’ve got very strong antagonists from Michael B. Jordan and magnificent Andy Serkis. They’re completely different but have definitely more personality than most of MCU villains. Even after a short entrance story, Killmonger has way more reason for his behaviour than Ronan The Accuser for instance. He is the movement, the strength and the next phoenix from terrible Human Torch role. Serkis, however, stole his screentime completely. Every scene with him is a damn masterpiece. After so many roles behind the motion capture, he’s finally showing his face and, damn, it is a glorious performance.
To be honest, the background works everything for Black Panther. Small, allegedly forgettable characters have much more power than expected. W’Kabi played by Daniel Kaluuya and Winston Duke as M’Baku give reasons for their characters’ existence in the plot and their expression makes them memorable. Every single actor is an important asset. Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett’s talents may have not been exploited, but their characters have a valuable reason for being there. I guess the biggest problem in this area for me was John Watson, sorry, Everett Ross. Martin Freeman does exactly the same performance he’s been doing for the recent 7 years or so and that got boring already. He’s the weakest link of the film.
All that text and I haven’t even scratched the title Black Panther? Well, because T’Challa is a Simba of the story. As I said before, the plot is not the best thing in this film. Everything around it is. The sequences themselves are epic but the whole story is just another king of the savanna. The character himself is as much fun as we can expect from the Civil War. But it all runs around this legacy.
Black Panther is a statement. The world’s changing and we’re slowly pushing “new” values into pop culture. It’s time to celebrate. This is a new age where not only one type of hero we can look up to. Humanity being in all shapes, colours and sexes. What it is not, it is not the one that I will enjoy watching over and over again. Why? Because it gave me this sour taste in my mouth after I left. Because the plot was so obvious, it tried to make me agree with their beliefs. It was 100% focused on giving this anti-racism feel and not much else. It may be worth seeing for the new type of superhero films but this is nothing out of the ordinary for me. Marvel can do so much more. I’ll wait for it in Infinity War.