My wife and I saw Black Panther last night. Here’s a few initial thoughts.
I loved the world-building and presentation. It looked unapologetically African, and they didn’t take the action “home” to one of the usual major cities in order to bring familiarity or a reason to care. It asks you to care for the people and cultures and their stakes, on their own merit and worth. That jumped out at me from the start, and there were no cheap gimmicks, or any sense that they were simply playing an angle in the 1st 30 minutes to get you hooked into just another superhero movie.
I loved that the question the movie asks is actually dealt with. I don’t want to spoil it too much, but where they could have taken an easy way out, they didn’t, and now I care about a sequel to a Marvel movie not just because the movie was good and it was cool (because it was), but because I’m interested in what the writers have to say. They didn’t take the easy way out by asking the question they asked but then killing the “Utopia” they created and making the question moot for any sequels. They didn’t blow it all up, or change everything to get out of it.
Building on that, it’s an origin story that is actually an amazing movie in its own right. Well done.
The acting was excellent, and the characters were mostly well done – nothing got in the way of an enjoyable experience, that I remember. There was a love interest, but the movie wasn’t about it, or didn’t play it for anything other than that’s a thing that people do.
The main antagonist was excellent. In a long parade of mainly annoying and one-dimensional Marvel villains (on screen), this one was kinda gut-wrenching at times. I can buy the character. More sadness than rooting for his defeat. Justice was a little complicated there.
I also feel like it was more ambitious a film in scope than Wonder Woman was–another superhero movie I really liked–and succeeded. Wonder Woman kicked the door down in a largely male-dominated feature-film scene, and proved (again) at least that a female character could indeed carry a story and capture an audience, without resorting to sexual exploitation or other gender tropes. While Wonder Woman sort of combined a Superman-esque origin story with a driving narrative and setting not far removed from Captain America’s (a woman kicking ass in a man’s world) Black Panther, as I mentioned earlier, carved out its own kingdom and demanded respect on its own merit – Wakanda announcing it is here whether we like it or permit it. It would be as if Wonder Woman was set primarily on Themyscira, the island of the Amazons in the film. Yes, the stories are apples and oranges, and I’m certainly open for pushback on this, it’s just my initial impressions. Maybe it’s been too long since I saw Wonder Woman.
Anyway. Leave a comment if you feel like it. I’d love to hear from others.