I watch and talk about cinema 12 hours out of any given day, minus time spent sleeping or reading comics, but I don't really use this site to write about it. On a few levels I feel that I should talk about "Black Panther" though. So here we go...
Since it was announced to the regular public, people who weren't really big on comic book movies prior to the announcement, and the appearance he character made in "Captain America: Civil War" the thing that was talked about the most when it came to the character of Black Panther and the development on a film was just "Black!" Everyone was either excited over or pissed about the fact that we'd be getting a Black superhero, forgetting about or ignoring, regardless how you felt about them, 1997's "Steel" and 1999's "Blade"; the latter being a Marvel property, something that a lot of people, even today, don't realize. Then everyone found out that Black Panther wasn't just "a nigga from the hood" but rather a king from a country in Africa, and the "Black" aspect just exploded even more. Then the casting surfaced, 98% African-American cast, and a Black director! Even more excitement or anger. The former, rightfully so; it was amazing.
And this is where the issues that I had started to arise. I won't lie and say I've been a comic book reader my entire life, I've read one single issue of a comic book in my life pre-2014. But I have paid attention to them closely via cartoons and films. Black Panther has been a thing I've been aware of since about 2011 when the Marvel cartoon series that aired on BET was released on Netflix, and as with everything I do my Googles when I find something new, so I had some knowledge on Black Panther for several years now. I bring that up to say that there was a lot of information about Black Panther that the general public was missing or overlooking other than the fact that he was simply an African king; but this seemed to be the only reason that the film was being supported, or hated. I have an issue with that. And the over hyping of the film based solely on this is, on top of being annoying as shit for me personally, I think is an issue for the future of the newcomers to the comic book movie fandom. I can go on about this for a long time; that's the base, let's get to the film.
I went into this as a comic book and comic book movie fan viewing it as a comic book movie, not a Black comic book movie, that was apart of the great Marvel Cinematic Universe. BUT! I will not say that the "Blackness" of this film wasn't a big part of why it was a good film. It played a big part in the film while also not making a mockery of itself, and I have to give that to Ryan Coogler. I've never read a Black Panther comic but knowing that the character and the early stories were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, two Jewish men, for all the great they done and created in the comic world, I'll never take anything away from them, I'm sure some of the early content would have me giving the books a screw face because of some of the content. (Maybe I'll come buy and read a few old Jungle Action comics in the future.) But Ryan Coogler's involvement, as director, in this film had to be a big part of why the Blackness of the film worked; along with the help of the cast.
The opening scene, which I won't spoil for someone who may be reading this that hasn't watched the film yet was HUGE for me and everyone in the screening I was in; with all the other shit that people applaud for in films, this was one time where I was okay with the loud cheering and applause. And I credit that to Ryan Coogler as well. I wonder if he had to fight for that. It was only 5 seconds, not even a whole scene, just the lead in to the scene and some setup, but it was just that big.
Jokes. I don't think there should be a superhero comic book film with zero comedy in it, that would just for a boring experience. But I will say that there was a little too many "jokes" in this film, although they were never not funny. A few of them I would have hated in other films, but the placement of them and the delivery from the actors made them work here. Just took many.
The villain worked well in this film. Well, one of them. Michael B Jordan? Great. Andy Serkis? Not bad, but annoying, but kinda fun. The story for the main villain worked very well and made for a good story within the story of Black Panther's. The issues that I had with the presentation of Michael B. Jordan in the trailers of the film was resolved in the movie, and his portrayal of how they wrote the character was great. Dude is just dope. (Let's hope "Creed 2" is good.) I can't say too much more without spoiling the film.
GCI is something that I was afraid of from the release of the teaser trailer early last year, and in a way that fear wasn't eased. Wakanda looked great. Anything that was shot on location and was green screened in looked good. They didn't overdo it and the Wakandan technology (vehicles, buildings, weapons, etc.) looked good. But my only issue was the in suit fight scenes. Again, the on location stuff was good, suited characters fighting regular people was nice, but when you put two people in a suit fighting each other in a CGI scene, where I feel the actual characters become CGI renders as well, I didn't like it; one scene in particular.
I'm not being on wardrobe enough to get into detail on it, but it was done well. We seen a lot of it in the trailers so knew what we were going to see, but the new things that popped up throughout the film were just a dope.
The fight choreography was done well as well. They didn't go just go for "kung fu" fighting for everything, and I can't say whether or not they were based on traditional African arts because again an area I'm not very familiar with, but it did seem like everyone one had very different and unique fighting styles. The only issue I had with the fighting was Lupita Nyong'o's fighting. She can act her as off, I've always liked her as an actress, but maybe she's just not very "fighty". I felt they should have brought in a stunt double for some of her fight scenes.
The story. It's connected to the MCU in a couple of ways, but it also stands on it's own as a film. If you've never watched a Marvel Studios film and have no idea of the overarching story that connects everything, you won't have to worry about that with this. Yes, we get characters from the MCU in this film but you don't have to know anything about any of them or anything else to enjoy the film. The Black Panther and T'Challa part of the story is real good and works to develop what we should see of Black Panther in future films as he joins (again) the greater MCU. There's no origin outside of flashback from what you seen in "Captain America" Civil War"; they get right to Black Panthering. I've mentioned that the villain that Michael B. Jordan played (I haven't mentioned him by name for spoiler reasons) has a story that really worked for a villain backstory as well as to progress the T'Challa story. There are some political and humanity issues tackled in the film as well, which I'm sure everyone was expecting to see. Let's see how that last scene (not the post credit scene, yes, of course there's one) plays into future films.
Overall, as I told my daughter because we rate films with each other, I'd give "Black Panther" a 8 out of 10 based on the things I didn't like; too many jokes, too much CGI, and Andy Serkis (although I did enjoy him). It's worth going to check out for comic book fans, comic book movie fans, and just anyone looking to see something Black done right (instead of Tyler Perry and Kevin Hart films). And let's hope that all of the things that I want to happen in the next one or two sequels happen. I got some ideas Marvel; y'all already did them in the comics, just bring them to the films.
Nah... I'm not doing it.