I have a confession to make: I am a Marvel fan girl. I’ve been to the cinema on release day to see every single movie from the MCU since it kicked off with Iron Man all the way back in 2008 – 10 years ago! Tony Stark’s gettin’ old!
The internet has been creating Black Panther hype for a looooong time. In fact, according to Screenrant, it is the most tweeted about movie of 2018. BUT sadly, for me it did not live up to that hype. Before you get your claws out, let me explain why.
First, a little context…
When we first, and last, saw the Black Panther, he was seeking vengeance for his father’s untimely death in Captain America: Civil War. The plot of this new movie picks up from there as we follow T’Challa back home to Wakanda to be crowned the new king. At first, the story appears refreshingly original. Wakanda, it turns out, is a technologically-rich country that is so advanced it looks like an alien planet; and all of the tech is designed by T’Challa’s younger sister, Princess Shuri (who stole the show in my opinion). Powerful women are plentiful in this film. T’Challa’s love interest, played by Oscar winner, Lupita Nyong’o, is a headstrong spy, and the king’s Head of Armed Forces is also a strong female, played by the Walking Dead’s, Danai Gurira.
The first part of the movie had everything you could want from a Marvel film: fast-paced action scenes, amazing gadgets, and snippy one-liners. But after the first hour or so, the film quickly veers off in another direction and becomes almost like a social commentary about the world we live in today. The film deals with themes such as racism, and greed, and the sins of past generations – and, while these are all very important messages and it is great to see them in a film, the script is sacrificed for it. The story gets real clichéd, real quick. I mean, the villain is a bitter, long-lost family member who has decided he wants to claim the throne. How many times has that been done before?
I’ve also got to mention the CGI which was distractingly frequent. It’s difficult to play into the emotion of a scene when the mystical background is so intrusive that you can tell the actor delivered all of his lines in front of a green screen. And I must question the use of CGI giant rhino soldiers. It literally made my turn to my partner in the cinema and say WTF?
As a standalone film, Black Panther is a beautiful love letter to African culture. The concept almost rewrites history by presenting us with an Africa that has all of the power and wealth that the Western world has, and then some. But, as part of Marvel’s roster of superhero movies, it doesn’t fit for me. The action scenes are few and far between and the world is so different to the one portrayed in the rest of the MCU that it doesn’t progress the overarching story at all (aside from showing Captain America’s old pal, Bucky, in one of the end credit scenes).
To sum up: I LOVED the powerful females (of course), adored the concept, and respected the actors’ performances. But the CGI was too fantastical and frequent and the script was too predictable. In the end, the film tried to do too much and ended up adding nothing to the story currently at the heart of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I guess I’ll just have to wait for Infinity War…