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Double Take: Marvel/Disney’s ‘Black Panther’

Double Take is a feature where two authors give their thoughts on the same thing, be it art, a film, or a podcast. Click to page two using the buttons below to see our second author’s take on the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


Black Panther
Directed by:
Ryan Coogler
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, and more
http://movies.disney.com/black-panther


Black Panther is the first African-American-led superhero movie since the Blade trilogy. Unlike Blade, however, it lacks the precious gems of dialogue such as this.

Synopsis

Black Panther marks the eighteenth entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the third directorial effort by Ryan Coogler. It stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa as the new leader of the fictional African nation, Wakanda, following the death of his father, King T’Chaka. The supporting cast is rounded out by Danai Gurira’s Okoyo and Daniel Kaluuye’s W’Kabi. The Wakandian way of life is threatened when Erik “Killmonger” Stevens shows up by starting a string of thefts and murders. Look, this is a Marvel Studios movie. Watch the trailer, then close your eyes and try to picture the events of the movie. What you picture happens in the movie is exactly what happens.

What Worked

The movie is competently made. Ryan Coogler proves himself a talented director, getting decent performances out of the generic script he was given. Chadwick Boseman again holds his own again as T’Challa. Andy Serkis was a charismatic interesting villain in Ulysses Klaue. The soundtrack was great, but then again, how can one not love Kendrick Lamar? Wakanda itself is a vibrant and gorgeous world that I would want explore further…in a better movie.

What Didn’t Work

The movie painfully follows the Marvel formula. A smart, socially awkward person is thrust into their powers because a palette-swapped version of themselves shows up fight them while teaching them a lesson about themselves.

The movie, narratively, takes zero risks. The film tries to make commentary on contemporary issues in the first act but forgets about them except for a combination of 10 minutes between the second and third acts. Marvel studios couldn’t commit to telling a story that had dramatic weight or social relevance because kids are bored by that and bored kids don’t buy toys. They aren’t bored, however, by an overzealous chase through Busan that causes way to much property damage for a superhero movie and continues the trend of empty superhero setpieces that have been forced into the norm.

The film ruins any dramatic moment with a generic “smart” quip that destroys any importance the scene was trying to achieve. The villain of the movie is typical Marvel fare. He shows up for 20 minutes of the movie, spouts an abundance of expository dialogue, and dons a palette-swapped suit of the hero’s. He then fights the hero and forces them to learn something about himself, but the villain is killed in the process. The movie plays it so safe that it’s difficult to come away with this movie with any other feeling than a weak “meh.”

Verdict

The problem isn’t that movie absolutely terrible, nor is it a masterpiece. The movie’s not good, but it’s not bad either. It’s just mediocre, and passionately so. We deserve better than movies that pride themselves in being just passable.

Rating: D (Bland Panther)

— by Nicklaus Neitling

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