Sunday, February 18, 2018

Black Panther (No Spoilers)

Nothing But wakanda
Black Panther is a good movie, in every sense of the word.

First of all, it’s a really good movie. Possibly the best initial solo outing in the Marvel Universe, on par with the first Iron Man and first Guardians in terms of sheer quality, edging out the first Captain America and Spider-Man, and way better than Thor, Ant-Man, and Doctor Strange. It’s better than all of the first sequels. It’s on par with Iron Man 3 and Thor Ragnarok.

Where it really succeeds is first, in worldbuilding, second, relationships that feel natural and comfortable even though we’ve never seen them before, and third, one of the best, most realized villains in recent memory.

Marvel’s always had a problem with villains. Either they’re boring, generic malevolent forces like Malekith, or they’re overly grounded and humanized like Zemo. Eric “Killmonger” Stevens, on the other hand, combines the deeply personal connection to the hero of a Loki with actual malevolence beyond Loki’s trickery and general comedy relief. Killmonger is nobody’s lackey. He’s motivated, he’s skilled, and most importantly, he kind of has a point. I can’t think of another Marvel movie that ends with the hero adopting some small part of the villain’s point of view.

The relationships between the large central cast are also handled incredibly well. Each combination of characters has a natural, believable chemistry that really makes you give a shit about what they’re going through. None of it rings false. It’s charming when it needs to be, funny when it needs to be, and dramatic when it needs to be.

And then there’s the worldbuilding. Another of the movie’s strong points is that the whole thing is about Wakanda. It’s not about the rest of the MCU, Any previous connections to the larger universe, from Martin Freeman’s character to Bucky Barnes to the events of Civil War, are used entirely to service the telling of this story about Wakanda and T’Challa. And the movie creates a complex, believable Wakanda, with its own culture, traditions, politics, visual aesthetic, everything. It’s masterfully done.

The movie is also good because the movie’s important. Its success is important, its effect on pop culture is important, its politics are important, and the fact that it’s turning racists everywhere into even whinier-ass shitheads trying to deny what this movie means is important.

The biggest flaw in the movie is the final sequence, which introduces some of the dodgiest, rubberiest CGI shots in the entire movie and a weird, inconsistent bit of logic involving the sonic stabilizers, resulting in a final confrontation that’s less impactful than it could be. But that’s mitigated by the strong character work around that final confrontation, including that incredible final scene between T’Challa and Eric, and a strong denouement.

Wakanda, fuck yeah. Comin’ again to save the motehrfuckin’ day, yeah.å

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