Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira
February 16, 2018 (US Premiere)
Summary for Moms:
Following the death of his father T’Chaka (John Kani) in Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to his homeland of Wakanda – an afro-futurist wonderland powered by the miracle metal Vibranium – to take his rightful place as King and officially assume the mantle of Black Panther. However, former American black-ops agent Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), has other ideas and seeks to exercise his claim to the throne, as well, for less than righteous reasons (debatably). With the help of his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), his bodyguard Okoye (Danai Gurira), CIA Agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman), and his spy/love interest Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), and a whole host of other allies, will T’Challa be able to defend his throne and allow for Wakanda to take it’s rightful place on the world stage?
Sorry for the extended hiatus, dear readers. I was busy accumulating more watching material and working on writing a book of my own (more on that never). In any case, glad you could join us as we once again jump back into the MCU saddle for another run of the latest movies and TV shows. Starting, of course, with the biggest hit until Infinity War, Black Panther!
Black Panther is a triumph for non-caucasian cinema and it holds together very well as a standalone movie with very little dependant on connections to the larger MCU. We’re immediately introduced to a cast of diverse characters to complement Chadwick Boseman’s stoic, but loveable T’Challa. One of these characters is the world of Wakanda, which is beautifully realized, but, in my opinion, lacks in scope.
We’re treated to sweeping vista shots and the amazing grandeur of the royal palace and the traditional sparring grounds, but not much else, really. It’s my one biggest problem with the film. We really don’t get a sense of non-royal Wakanda, which muddies things a bit later on in the film.
In terms of actual characters, Letitia Wright’s Shuri is, of course, the breakout star. Delivering one of the most memorable performances. Her chemistry with Boseman and her general sense of humor is by far the most fun part of the film. Yes, including the dated ‘What are those?’. I enjoyed that.
Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger is far and away the most brilliantly realized, humanistic villain Marvel’s ever put to screen, as he has an understandable motive and makes a lot of very good points, but his methodology is distasteful (which is the perfect formula for a good villain). But, while he’s introduced fairly early, he only comes to the fore a little too late in the movie for my taste and, given the runtime, the movie has to devolve him into a caricature in order to push his evil plan through with little friction. To be fair, they build him back up again with his last few moments, so I can’t complain too much.
That being said, Killmonger’s ascent feels far too easy, and other than his commandeering of Wakandan technology to launch an attack on other nations, we don’t see exactly what effect his rule has on day-to-day Wakanda. Hell, we never really see much of T’Challa’s day-to-day Wakanda, save for some random street shots. Hence my earlier comment about wanting to see more of the non-royal Wakanda.
But these are all nitpicks. The movie ultimately works very well and packs a good emotional resonance, even though its final battle sequence is very reminiscent of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. But that’s a can of worms I’m going to leave open for another day.
Now, you may be asking, why am I talking more about my impressions of this movie on a blog called ‘Make Mom Marvel’? Well, to tell the truth, my mom wasn’t very taken with Black Panther and fell asleep almost constantly. In an after-movie debrief she said it was ‘okay’, and thought Shuri and the James Bond-style gadgets were her favorite part… so it’s not a ringing endorsement, but she didn’t hate it.
While I enjoyed the movie as a whole, despite some nitpicky things, I’m afraid I’m going to have to give Black Panther…
Mom Rating (Out of Five):
- Not really much to say here, given her boredom, she was surprised that it was as big a hit as it was.
- My mom isn’t a racist, but I guess she just doesn’t grasp the importance of representation… despite being a minority.
- On the bright side, if she ever meets Chadwick Boseman, she won’t ask him to do the Wakanda Forever salute, since he seems pretty tired of being put on the spot for that one.
Post Credit Sequences:
- She didn’t really grasp the significance of T’Challa’s UN presentation. To be fair, it was pretty low-key.
- She needed to be reminded who Bucky was (again) and why he was there.