The Marvel Cinematic Universe is loaded with big stars, blockbuster hits, and of course, super-powered heroes and villains. Black Panther, the latest chapter featuring T’Challa Udaki — the King of Wakanda — as a black suit-wearing stud, is no different. But in many ways, it appears that Black Panther is very different from the Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America movies.
Some are saying that Black Panther could end up being the very best film in the MCU. That wouldn’t be totally surprising, given the excellent cast and the relatively clean slate that Marvel has to work with. The only major character to even have been introduced thus far is T’Challa. We took a look at the early reviews and why Black Panther just might be Marvel’s biggest triumph to date.
The early reviews are good
Before its release, Black Panther was viewed by a handful of big-shots at the Hollywood premiere, and so far, the message is clear: This is a very good movie. Many praised director Ryan Coogler, known for Creed, for putting together a movie that touched at the heart of African culture. Others were happy with the political angle of the movie, and some pointed out that it’s Marvel’s least superhero-type movie to date.
That reminds of another Marvel success, Netflix’s The Punisher. After his appearance in Daredevil, The Punisher gets his own spin-off series but comes through with a major hit. Like Black Panther, The Punisher also felt as if it could take place outside the MCU.
If the reviews are any indication, Black Panther may be one of Marvel’s best movies, ranking up there with Captain America: Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Thor: Ragnarok.
Next: The movie is fun to look at.
Black Panther is visually stunning
One of the things about fantastical stories regarding made-up countries where the leader runs around in suit made of a fictional metal is that it has to grab the viewer. The story, itself, is mostly unknown by those who haven’t seen it. But one thing we do know is that many have commented on what a pleasure Black Panther is to look at.
Undoubtedly, part of what makes it so visually astonishing is the sets and costumes, which Kohn alludes to in his comment on celebrating blackness while exploring its relationship to pop culture.
Next: The last stop before the big one.
The last one before Infinity War
With Avengers: Infinity War on its way just three months after Black Panther hit the theaters, it would’ve been easy for Marvel to essentially do a throw-away movie. Something to get the people in the seats, but nothing too outstanding or costly. Ragnarok, which came out last November, has the direct lead-in to Infinity War, so it would make sense for the MCU to not have focused so hard on Black Panther.
But according to fans, Marvel delivered anyway. What we’re coming to find, in recent years, is that some of Marvel’s best adaptations (Guardians, Punisher, and now Black Panther) are derived from their most unexpected sources.
Next: Michael B. Jordan is a real villain.
A real, developed villain
One criticism of the entire MCU is how disposable the villains often are. Ultron ended up being way less scary than the trailers suggested. There was never any real danger, it felt, with the dark elves. And let’s not forget how Ronin was defeated in a dance-off. Black Panther seems to have put a stop to that streak.
The last truly developed villain in the MCU goes back to the very first Thor movie, introducing Loki. But even Thor’s adopted brother seemed thrust into a cookie-cutter bad guy role in The Avengers. It’s nice to see layers on a villain that the audience might be able to empathize with.
Next: True development for T’Challa.
A criminally underappreciated hero
Chadwick Boseman was excellent in his role in Captain America: Civil War. That was the Black Panther’s first appearance in the MCU, hell-bent on tracking down the ones responsible for the death of his father. At times, it felt like the character was being shoehorned into the story, but that’s not Boseman’s fault. In fact, Boseman played the role expertly.
In his own spin-off movie, the title character doesn’t have that same problem. It appears that Marvel got it just right, properly developing one of the most underappreciated and coolest heroes in the comics and cartoons.
Next: It’s not afraid to get political.
Black Panther goes political
It should come as no surprise that the movie is at least somewhat political. Although exactly what social commentary exists in this film isn’t entirely public knowledge, the nearly all-black cast leads us to identity and representation.
If any moviegoer looks to avoid Black Panther for fear of a political commentary, they might want to ask themselves how they felt about the first three Captain America movies. The First Avenger was based in World War II, Winter Soldier was a major commentary on violation of privacy, and Civil War was about military overreach and lack of regard for consequences.
Marvel has no problem getting political, and you’ve probably had no problem overlooking it in the past.
Next: Getting to the heart of African culture.
It gets to the heart of African culture
It would make sense that a movie starring several African actors and taking place in a (fictional) African country would touch on African culture. It’s not hard to make the leap of faith that Black Panther is so unique that it’s completely unlike the rest of the MCU.
Again, it sounds as if The Punisher is a great comparison. It had its own political themes, but also seemed to exist in its own world. Not focusing on how it tied into the rest of the universe that Marvel has created is part of what made The Punisher so great.
That may be part of what makes Black Panther one of the best Marvel movies to date — maybe even the best.
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