With Black Panther, Ryan Coogler builds a world far superior to anything we’ve seen previously in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a world of vibrant colors and texture; but then a few poorly placed, familiar MCU tropes water down an otherwise rousing tale.
Black Panther is one of the first timely superhero films that asks grander scale questions that will challenge the casual fan. As well as the first half is written, Coogler and Joe Robert Cole lose the emotional intensity in the second half as the CGI battles take over the film and pushes the script and actors to the side.
With the Black Panther character established the focus moved toward the villain, and developing Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger origin. This helped the film tremendously and allows the audience to build a sort of compassion for Killmonger and his warped journey. He is the most ruthless villain in the MCU, something that has been lacking in the Universe thus far, and the wildly unpredictable performance from Jordan keeps everything appropriately off kilter.
Letitia Wright as Shuri, T’Challa’s younger sister and tech genius, steals the show with her wit. Wright brings an energy to the screen that elevates scenes that could have otherwise been nothing more than bland expository filler. Shuri will definitely be a character to watch in Avengers: Infinity War. Where Wright steals the show, Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue puts on a clinic when it comes to crazy. Serkis is already an underrated actor who transforms into every character he plays (often times quite literally transforming into them on the screen) and give maximum effort. You are only given a taste of his brilliance in Black Panther. Hopefully, some deleted scenes make the DVD extras.
As we break down the final act of the film there could be spoilers ahead.
Where the film doesn’t deliver is in the hero’s journey. The film rushes to the final fight without the essential character development needed to anchor the audience. Chadwick Boseman is great as T’Challa, demanding of our attention and praise, but we are robbed of a Black Panther resurrection and/or training montage. This was a missed opportunity; if Coogler had added the blood, sweat, and tears to this finale the way he did to the overall film, it could have pushed this over the top, beyond great superhero movie to an early contender for the best of 2018.
We want to see our heroes broken, then pick themselves up out of the mud, dust themselves off, and get back to work to be the best. This is the inspiring part of the film, which boggles my mind that Coogler didn’t include it after he just worked on Creed.
Black Panther is the 18th film in the MCU franchise, and Kevin Feige has not been able to fix the one issue that has plagued the Marvel films since Iron Man: fighting a doppelganger of your hero. Iron Man fights another Iron Man, Hulk fights another Hulk, Ant-Man fights another Ant-Man, and now, in the final fight, Black Panther fights another Black Panther. With all the brilliant filmmakers that Disney has on speed-dial, no one could come up with a better idea? That’s just lazy.
I said this with Marvel’s The Avengers and I will say again for Black Panther, when Coogler has a chance to given Jordan or Boseman an Oscar-winning speech or line during the battle, Coogler like Whedon doesn’t take his shot and plays it safe. Is Black Panther a good movie, yes. Could it have been an epic film, absolutely.
Definitely stick around for the mid-credits and post-credit scenes.