Length: 134 minutes / 2.23 hours
Anymore, superhero films are a dime a dozen. I get that they’re adding up to a greater narrative for Avengers: Infinity War (2018), but a lot of them seem almost indistinguishable from each other. Enter Black Panther (2018). Not only is this superhero not white, but almost all the action takes place somewhere other than New York City. There are a lot of strengths in Black Panther that make it feel like a cut above the rest. From the set design and aesthetic of Wakanda to the well-developed characters (including women warriors and women scientists), Black Panther shows how a superhero movie should be made.
Despite its strengths, there are still a few, minor weaknesses in this film. First, some of the CGI felt a little off in the sense that my mind rejected it when I saw it. These moments were usually pretty rare but were unquestionably obvious. Secondly, one of the tenets of the superhero genre is the action/fight sequences. While these sequences were present and exciting in Black Panther, often they seemed to be jittery and confusing to watch. Perhaps films like John Wick (2014) have spoiled me to the steady camera of a well-choreographed action sequence.
One of the best performances in Black Panther, which is why I think it should come so highly recommended, was that of Michael B. Jordan’s antagonist, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens. The strength of the African accouterments in this film was a cultural foundation that was offset by the oppression of African-Americans. This was made all the more evident by the antagonist’s somewhat noble goal. I don’t know if I’ve seen a more sympathetic villain, and it just made the conclusion feel like a richer sense of justice instead of just vanquishing an evil foe.
A breath of fresh air in a stagnant genre of superhero films, I give Black Panther 4.5 stars out of 5.