Black Panther, a Marvel Studios blockbuster, is a rich and layered superhero movie deserving of every ounce of box office success that's come its way.
Some films captivate you from the first frame. Some films are hit and miss, and other movies fail to engage the masses on some sort of physical, emotional, or spiritual level. Personally, it took me about 5-to-10 minutes to really get into Black Panther, but once I was there, it was smooth sailing till the credits rolled.
There were a lot of cinematic areas in which Black Panther used winning elements. When it went for success with the fundamental aspects, it succeeded, and when it played with fringe elements, visuals, and concepts, it succeeded there too.
There were literally two minor blips, hand-to-hang combat scenes, in which the CG looked cheesy. One combatant being punched into a wall by another in which the visual effects were animated too quickly and looked fraudulent. Cartoonish.
Other than those two scenes, every other negative thing I could possibly say about Black Panther, IMHO, would be completely subjective.
All Images: Disney
The acting was solid across the board. Nothing awe inspiring, but solid, dependable, and respectable portrayals by all of the core cast members. Sure, Chadwick Boseman's African accent was less than optimal for a few moments, but you know what, that's okay, because he's not African nor is he a robot, and we can't expect him to be able to mimic an accent flawlessly the way a computer or robot would. So something like that is forgivable.
A review or two ago, I whined about Oscar Isaac's accent in Annihilation, where he was supposed to be playing a southern soldier, but the breaking of that accent was significantly worse. It was too frequent and it was too much. So I feel like that in that situation, it was less forgivable.
These minor, trivial issues aside, it's no surprise to me at all that the only Marvel film to gross more revenue at the box office than Black Panther, is the original Avengers film.
Black Panther hit high marks in multiple departments. The way it blended the African elements in, both the non-fictional ones as well as the science fictional ones. Its world building was superb, and you can check out io9's coverage of Wakanda to see more writing and photos about Wakanda's tech and creation in general.
Marvel's latest blockbuster went up to bat inning after inning, and hit a homer every time. There have been so many Marvel films lately, ranking them off the top of your head on any level is an impossibility. But my initial, gut-reaction to Black Panther instantly places it toward the top of the list as one of the best Marvel comics movies ever made, and its box office statistics are right there with me in support of this claim.
Black Panther does such a good job of balancing its various elements, you never feel like the story is committing too heavily to any one component versus another. Whether it be a historic element, Afro-futurism element, sci-fi element, action element, or otherwise.
It even peppers in a light amount of humor without making the jokes feel tacky, or letting the comedic elements have a potentially negative impact on the movie, as seem people feel may be happening in some Thor or Iron Man related movies. Yet another element of the film that was balanced just right.
These types of cinematic feats are far from easy to accomplish. So I feel it's very commendable that the core parties involved with Black Panther's production were able to create such a well-balanced film, that could be of such high quality, while appealing to such a broad range of people. Pair everything we've discussed with clever marketing and a soundtrack to match, and it becomes easy to see why Black Panther has surpassed the one billion in revenue mark.
I'm gonna have to catch this one again when it becomes available on digital or Blu-ray so that my better half has an opportunity to enjoy Black Panther as I have.
The strength of the females in this film is commendable. The courage of the Wakandan people to unite in a time of distress is admirable, and the first post-credits bonus scene which promotes international unity while denouncing nationalism and division, is the kind of stuff that exists at the very core of great art.