Black Panther Movie Review

A week after its released, I finally made it out to see Black Panther in the theater.

What I Liked: Though it takes place in the recent past and present day earth, this was more akin to Guardians of the Galaxy or Thor in the Marvel Universe than Iron Man (with whom Black Panther shares an affinity for cool gadgets) or Captain America. It is a gorgeous Afrofuturist world, and mostly disconnected from the Marvel Universe other than one of it's two inciting incidents (one is a spoiler, the other happened in Captain America: Civil War), and two supporting characters. The important inciting incident is what gives Black Panther something most Marvel (and comic book movies in general) are missing - a villain with genuine stakes and purpose. While some of been interesting, few to none have been three dimensional. Black Panther raises the bar so high, I wonder if Avengers: Infinity War will stumble with the CGI Thanos.

What I Didn't Like: With all modern action films, there is an element of confusion and incoherence in the fight sequences, often intentional. I prefer the approach of films like The Raid or John Wick, but I understand these are meant for teenagers, and those films are far more brutal. Still, the various Netflix Marvel series do manage to pull off some interesting and innovative fight sequences (the hallway fight in The Defenders, for example). Black Panther has several fight set pieces, some small, some big. The casino sequence worked best, mostly because of two long shots that kept the camera on a character when the leaped from the second to first floor and then vice versa. Other than that, the film held its own, but the action sequences more generic.

Overall: So where does Black Panther land in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe? Definitely near the top. It's hard to compare to the best Marvel movies, which I would consider to be Winter Soldier and original Avengers movie, which had already established worlds and characters. Black Panther is, at its core, an origin movie for T'Challa. Iron Man, Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy all nailed their origin story movies, so it's in that class. For me, it's top five to seven, as these things can vacillate based on what I've seen most recently. All that said, I'm excited to see what happens with Black Panther moving forward.