*. Near the beginning of Black Panther there’s a scene where T’Challa’s jet crosses a barrier into the fantasy realm of Wakanda and the new king says “This never gets old.”
*. The line struck me as merely hopeful. For me, at least, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has gotten very old. In the past I’ve referred to these movies as MarvelCrap, but they’re not all bad. Overall they tend to be very well (and very expensively) produced. They are slick entertainment. But they do get old.
*. Is Black Panther very different? It was certainly marketed as something different, and the marketing worked with audiences and with critics. Even by Marvel’s impossibly high standards for box office the film was a huge success. But creatively?
*. I liked the story better than most MCU entries. The villain of the piece, Killmonger, was authentic and relatable with a compelling back story. His plan for world domination was dull, and his conflict with T’Challa seemed like a replay of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but at least he wasn’t trying to open a gateway to another universe. I was getting sick of that.
*. The cast is excellent, highlighted by the young leads Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Letitia Wright. With a good script and a good cast they couldn’t go far wrong, and they didn’t.
*. There were a few negatives. For one thing, it comes in at a heavy two hours and fifteen minutes that isn’t made any lighter by the predictability and odd lack of humour. Most of the MCU movies include a few laugh lines and wisecracks, but Black Panther is mostly played straight. I counted only a couple of lighter moments.
*. The CGI also seemed generic and underwhelming. Nothing we haven’t seen a hundred times before. I suspect this may be the real problem Marvel is going to face moving forward. Where does CGI go from here? I don’t see where it has many more tricks up its sleeve. Meanwhile, the stampede of armored rhinos was just ridiculous. Where did they even come from?
*. I wonder if they got that tree full of black panthers from Paul Schrader’s Cat People. Now that would be funny!
*. Given how it was made into such a cultural moment I feel like I should say something more about this one but I just don’t feel up to it. This seemed to me to be a better than average Marvel movie, but that wasn’t enough to make up for how tired I am of the genre now and how stuck it has become in convention. Put another way, I thought it was pretty good but I almost didn’t finish watching it. This has gotten old.