Black Panther: Another Super Hero Film, with a Twist

In Uncategorized on February 18, 2018 at 19:40

For all the ruckus about how the story in Black Panther is so unique, it contains a lot of the same elements of other superhero films. What is different are the themes of racism, acceptance of the suffering of others and a presentation of colonialism in a superhero film. Here are just some areas in which it is a typical superhero film.

Black Panther Africa

  • It has hidden nation like Wakanda, a nirvana. Wonder Woman has Themyscira and Thor has Valhalla. Check.
  • Black Panther features a vengeful outcast come back for revenge, Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station). Bucky of Captain America comes to mind. Loki from Thor is also an outcast. Jordan does a decent job with some trite villain dialogue.
  • The film has an outsider who makes HIS way in. Wonder Woman has Steve Trevor and Black Panther has Ulysses Klaue, played marvelously by Andy Serkis. Yes, Gollum. In Black Panther, his precious is Vibranium. This metal can do everything, but like Star Trek tech, don’t ask how. And did they have to keep that stupid name, I assume, from the comic book? Vibranium! Get out a Latin or Greek dictionary and try something. Here. What a minute… okay: Omniate. Omnia meaning everything, plus ATE because some chemical names end in ATE.
  • Here, Wakandan technology being held back from the rest of humanity to protect humanity. Well, Wakanda has that in spades. It’s the aforementioned Omniate, er, Vibranium. And wasn’t that arc reactor thing from Iron Man and his suits just like that, technology he was hesitant to share?
  • Speaking of suits, enough with the suits already! Sure, Black Panther’s suit is much cooler than the Iron Man, Ant Man and Spiderman suits, but give me a good old suit-less wonder like the Hulk. Did I say something nice about the Hulk? Bonus points are in order for not giving the Black Panther a cape.

Even the plot arc is of the Black Panther is similar in other films. Like Iron Man, The Hulk and others, the hero is presumed dead. I bet you can’t guess what happens next?

While the elements of the plot in Blank Panther are the same as other superhero films, what makes the film unique is that it addresses themes of racism, imperialism, and colonization. It’s a fantasy about how Africa may have turned out if colonization had not happened, if Africa was on an equal footing with the white dominated north.

Some people have criticized the film’s autocratic monarchy of Wakanda and it’s ruler being a king. That was how the comic book was, but certainly, that is an issue. However, King T’Challa is a benevolent monarch, and most of the other powerful positions in Wakanda are held by women. The countries rituals are outdated, but compare them to our government currently. We all need to improve.

From the music, to the costumes, to the language, the film is African inspired. The language spoken in the film is the South African isiXhosa. This is a powerful change to the image of Africa and Africans in mainstream Hollywood films. In Black Panther, it is the African that is the savior, not the white man. That is the importance of the film, not that the character itself and the plot is unique. They’re not. It is the African centric plot and setting that gives Black Panther its power.

Wakanda City looks great in the film. Some of the CGI in Africa with their special invisible ship (yes, Wonder Woman has one) was easy to spot. The fight scenes were pretty good and the acting was great, especially Serkis and Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, warrior and love interest to King T’Challa, and Danai Gurira as the General Okoye.

General Okoye jpg

General Okoye

The Black Panther, King T’Challa, was played by Chadwick Boseman. He did well as king despite the stilted dialogue given him. Thankfully, it didn’t get to “Game of Thrones” levels of stilted dialogue. Moreover, no dragons appeared. Daniel Kaluuya looked as out of place much of the time in this film as he did in the white parent’s house in Get Out. They cast him to get viewers. There were probably better choices. I thought he was great in Get Out by the way. Martin Freeman plays the cutest, most cuddly FBI agent I have ever seen. He wasn’t bad, but someone more believable, more fierce, would have been better.

The music was over the top during the fight scenes, but the battles were kept below Lord of the Rings levels. The film was cheesy at times, but it had a stellar cast and avoided many clichés of the superhero genre.

Rating: Matinee. This is the best superhero film I have seen since Logan, which remains #1 in my book. It’s still a superhero film. However, it’s a great advance in themes from the Avengers and DC Universes which are trite in comparison. If I were to rate this film on social relevance alone, I would say: See it Twice.

Tex Shelters

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