Black Panther roared its way into theaters last week and is already knocking out box office records like a vibranium frisbee. It may very well be the smartest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). While the film shares similarities to other superhero films, it is unlike most of the genre in a very positive way.
Culture of Wakanda
In many ways, the film is a study in the culture of Wakanda. The film gives heavy focus to the history, appearance, style, technology, politics, and traditions of this fictional African country. This does at time cause the movie to feel in contradiction with itself. On one hand, Wakanda has better technology than anywhere else on Earth. But, at the same time, they still practice very tribal methods for crowning the king. Being familiar with the original comic books makes this feel less out of place, but I can understand someone without knowledge of the source material questioning this decision.
Focus on Character and Themes
One of the weaker elements in Black Panther is the action sequences. During some action scenes, it is difficult to decipher what is happening. For example, the waterfall battles have the camera zoom in very close and shake. Filming action this way has become popular in certain films and, at times, it works. In this film, the shaky-cam combined with extreme close-ups make it difficult to watch.
One of the reasons I believe the action suffers in the film is because the film wants you to focus on its characters and themes. For example, in this film, we see T’Challa struggling to be both a good man and a good king. And the overarching theme of sharing Wakanda’s technology provides a relevant, but not blatant political message.
Greatest Strength and Weakness
The film’s greatest strength and greatest weakness has to do with its villains. I’ve examined this topic as a new entry into our “Thing In A Minute” series. Let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments below.
About Black Panther
Black Panther has a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. It also earned a 77% Audience Score.