What Makes Marvel’s Black Panther Great

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Over the weekend I took my kids to see the new Black Panther movie. To be honest, I enjoy most superhero movies, but wasn’t expecting much from this one. Growing up, I was really into the X-Men and Batman, with the Avengers not really my kind of thing. My knowledge of Black Panther has been severely limited.

I walked out of the movie theater blown away. Yes, I saw all the rave reviews for the movie, but sometimes I don’t agree with critics. On this one I do: Black Panther is one of the greatest movies Marvel has made, and the reasons why were staggering to me.

There’s some good action in Black Panther, but other Marvel movies top it. Captain America: the Winter Soldier I believe has some of the best action scenes. Up until this point, I thought it had the most potent plot with real emotional heft. Black Panther surpasses it on those fronts.

I’ll fully admit to choking back some tears at the very end. You just don’t expect a superhero movie to touch you that way, but Black Panther gets at some fundamental issues that inform the human experience. I don’t want to ruin what they are, because the emotional delivery at the end is a force to be reckoned with.

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The ending was surprisingly controversial. I heard the people sitting behind us arguing about how things were resolved. You can see the villain Killmonger’s point of view. He in many ways is the most frightening bad guy Marvel has put on the screen, because he’s so human. You can identify with him, his fears, his desires, and even sympathize with him in a way. T’Challa could as well, which made fighting him more difficult. It’s easy to take down the guy who’s pure evil, but much harder to take on a tortured soul who might have some valid points.

Mixed in with all that is some solid humor. Sure, Thor Ragnarok, The Guardians of the Galaxy, and Spider-Man Homecoming all delivered way more humor. I love those movies and highly recommend them. But with Black Panther, the way the humor is inserted in some dire, grave situations is nothing short of genius. This aspect only adds to the depth of the movie.

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Finally, there’s the visual quality of the movie. Wakanda was amazing to see, especially all the crazy-amazing tech. The costumes were nothing short of top-shelf. Even the South Korean scenes were visually mesmerizing. But, nothing compared to the Ancestral Plane. When T’Challa first entered it, the theater was absolutely silent. I could almost hear everyone gasp. It was beautiful, haunting, ethereal. The score at that point hit the mood dead center. Later, the message delivered in that scene evolved and took its full effect, making the scene that much more pivotal.

As a writer and a person interested in the human race, all of it, Black Panther really struck a cord with me. Go enjoy the cool fight scenes, but be prepared to have the story make your brain do some somersaults and other acrobatics to grapple with the messaging.

 

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4 thoughts on “What Makes Marvel’s Black Panther Great

  1. This one just didn’t resonate with me. I was a bit bored in the beginning. I also didn’t buy that his best friend would just turn on him like that.

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    1. Long ago in my undergrad Shakespeare class a fellow student of mine objected to King Lear because she just didn’t believe a father would turn on his daughter like that. T’Challa’s friend had a thirst for revenge and he found a listening ear in Killmonger. It’s the same component of human nature that helped usher Hitler and countless other dictators into power. So I have to wholeheartedly disagree. I wasn’t enthralled with the beginning, but as the movie picked up steam, I no longer cared.

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