All original written content is (c) 2018 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed art is ©2012 and a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.
Comics’ first black mainstream superhero finally gets his own flick. Chadwick Boseman is again T’Challa (from CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR), prince of African nation Wakanda, only now he becomes king. That attracts all kinds of issues for his family and friends: sister Shuri, former squeeze Nakia, Queen Mom Rowanda, female warrior general Okoye (no relation to the famous Kansas City Chiefs running back), CIA agent Everett K. Ross (also seen in CAP: CW) and others; Bad guys Irving Klaw (AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, spelled “Klaue” again for some weird reason) and Erik Kilmonger are after the country’s exclusive supply of hardest-metal-in-the-universe Vibranium, and unearth a nasty family secret in the process.
Written by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole. Directed by Ryan Coogler.
- Gotta start with the visuals: while the regular “action hero” special FX were top-notch, it was the technology that stole the show here, from the various gadgetry/weapons to the ships/transportation to the Panther’s Vibranium outfit to the architecture of Wakanda itself. This is like the MINORITY REPORT of superhero flicks, making the tech in the IRON MAN movies look positively 20th century in comparison.
- The other visuals to note are the costumes. Holy monkey crap! This white boy never thought Africa looked so cool. The getups of the Dora Milaje and other warriors, along with the various tribes’ ceremonial duds and makeup are Oscar-worthy. How do you make a dude in a green suit with a giant green plate in his lower lip actually look impressive instead of stupid? They did it (and more) here.
- Casting was a big bonus too. For once, the main star, Boseman, while superb, wasn’t the standout. Michael B. Jordan as Kilmonger made me forget about his Human Torch from the FANTASTIC FOUR rebooted reboot. Andy Serkis as a buff, tattooed, Joker-level psychotic Klaw made me forget he was Gollum in LOTR/HOBBIT, Caesar in the new PLANET OF THE APES and Snoke in THE LAST JEDI. But the broads were best: Danai Gurira (WALKING DEAD’s Michonne) as no-BS Okoye, Letitia Wright as tech-genius Shuri and Lupita Nyong’o (new STAR WARS’ Maz Kanata) as loyal love Nakia stole the show.
- Any chick that can pull off bald is definitely beautiful. Most all of the Dora Milaje [MIKE: meaning “Adored Ones,” future wives of the king trained in martial arts and weapons to protect him] were hot without hair, with tight outfits that let you see some had their “brights” were on. A-woo-ga!
- The usual Stan Lee cameo is cute; this time he’s with Martin Freeman in a casino, so don’t miss it.
- Some great lessons/debates/thinking points on loyalty, trust, duty to country vs. loved ones, family, along with timely issues of social justice/responsibility vs. political philosophy [MIKE: namely isolationism vs. globalism] and other stuff for those who want to turn their brains on.
- Armored rhinos: I want one. And one of those planes I can fly from my couch.
- Couple good twists in important scenes, like motivation for some characters. Can’t give any spoilers!
- The background explanations/history at the open was done with fairly quickly and with some cool animation so it wasn’t as cumbersome as usual.
- [FROM MIKE: The usual credits for character creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the title credits, and the end crawl “special thanks” to the major architects of the Black Panther’s history, backstory, supporting cast and characterization, like Don McGregor, Christopher Priest, Sal Velluto, Bob Almond, Reginald Hudlin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, late greats like Rich Buckler, John Buscema and Gene Colan, et al. But sadly, artist Billy Graham was not listed.]
- Regarding credits, the usual two bonus scenes: one after the main titles (T’Challa at the UN, nothing special) and after the end credits to set up AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR with a special guest.
- A few major characters that should be in future flicks probably won’t be. (It’s Marvel, so you can’t really say “never.”)
- Slower to develop than other Marvel films. The whole “becoming a king” thing just took too much time. Would rather have gotten to the action quicker.
- Some characters not really explained well (like the Dora Milaje—I think I heard the actual name mentioned only once or twice, and their role was never explained).
- Characters sometimes go from their native language to English for no reason.
- The whole racial/social stuff may seem too topical/obvious for some folks. Lines like “The wise build bridges; the foolish build barriers” are going to tick off a percentage of the crowd.
- [FROM MIKE: Though a few changes from the comics, like Kilmonger’s backstory are for the better, others didn’t work as well. While the filmmakers couldn’t make the Dora Milaje all under 18 for obvious reasons, there was no reason to turn Nakia from one of them into basically an African version of ex-fiance Monica Lynne. Ross isn’t the funny, cynical-but-lovable goof ball from Priest’s run—Freeman’s version has been sapped of most of his personality. No Queen Divine Justice from the Priest run. No Hunter half-brother either; the Hatut Zeraze/Dogs of War costumed secret police become War Dogs, international plainclothes spies. No shot of the Techno-Jungle, and so on.]
- Don’t see this with babies in the audience. Why do a-hole parents bring noisy one- to three-year-olds to the movies? If you’re too damn cheap to get a babysitter, stay the hell home and don’t bother the rest of us. Bad enough you’re too dumb to not breed; no sense dragging the rest of the audience into your hellish nightmare of bad parenthood.
Don’t waste your dough on 3-D. Despite all the hoopla from bleeding-heart Hollywood “empowerment” types whining about racial and gender equality, this is actually a good flick that is a treat to watch. The acting and special effects make it entertaining enough. That most of the cast is black may be a Marvel milestone, but it’s not the reason to see this, any more that voting for a candidate due to their race or gender is a reason to vote. There has to be substance, and thankfully this flick has it along with flair. Black Panther is a badass. Wakanda forever!
P.S.: It’s time to treat yourself to some awesome art! Black Panther fighting Kilmonger and Klaw. The Dora Milaje kicking butt. Pinups. You as T’Challa or your spouse/squeeze as someone else. All for less than a Vibranium penny. Just ask Craig here!