A tale of the newcomer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) scene, Black Panther, and his tale of becoming king as well as the challenges that come along. The title hit theaters February 16th with a thunderous buzz of positivity following immediately, but was the movie at its core really worth all of its hype and ratings? (Spoilers Ahead)
The movie begins with a sand CGI model and a narrator explaining to the audience the lore behind the Wakandan Empire talking about the Vibranium meteorite that landed there as well as the secrecy of the Wakandan people, the tribes that created Wakanda and the “Black Panther” power.
After that, the movie has a flashback revealing an event in which T’Chaka, the king at the time and father of the main character T’Challa, kills his brother N’Jobu to save Zuri, a spy of Wakanda at the time that revealed to T’Chaka that N’Jobu helped Ulysses Klaue, an outsider to Wakanda, to steal vibranium from Wakandan mines which ends up killing a number of people. T’Chaka would leave N’Jobu’s son, Erik, behind creating the villain “Killmonger” and ending the flashback and bring the viewer to current day. The movie brings us back to current day with at the time Prince T’Challa and Okoye returning home to Wakanda after the death of his father, T’Chaka the previous king, and the events he took part in Captain America: Civil War and beginning to prepare for the ceremony to crown T’Challa as king. The tradition of crowning the king goes on and only one of the tribes challenges the throne, the challenger being M’Baku of the Jabari tribe. T’Challa has the Black Panther power removed, and then T’Challa and M’Baku fight for the throne with T’Challa ending up on top. Then T’Challa regains the power of the Black Panther and in the process goes to the ancestral plane and talks to his dead father, saying that he is afraid that he is not ready yet to be a warrior and a king at the same time. Some time later, T’Challa meets with his sister, Shuri, who shows off the Wakandan tech as well as gives T’Challa a choice between two upgraded suits, which allows him to store and disperse kinetic energy.
After this, the spotlight moves to Killmonger and Klaue, and them robbing a museum of a mislabeled Wakandan artifact made of vibranium. This alerts Wakanda of Klaue’s whereabouts and they send a task force consisting of T’Challa, Okoye, and Nakia (T’Challa’s ex-girlfriend). The task force ends up finding Klaue in the South Korea with the the main character also trying to capture him and a fight ensues. The fight ends with the CIA taking Klaue into custody for interrogation, but while being interrogated by the CIA, Killmonger breaks Klaue out to take him to Wakanda, but ends up killing him because he refuses. Killmonger then takes Klaue’s body to Wakanda and shows the people there that he himself is Wakandan also. These actions end up bringing him before the leaders of Wakanda, and allow him to challenge the throne. T’Challa has the Black Panther power removed once more for the fight between him and Killmonger. Killmonger would prevail throwing T’Challa down into the waterfall. Killmonger, now King of Wakanda, gains the power of the Black Panther and talks to his father, N’Jobu, in the ancestral plane, saying that the Wakandan people are lost and that he will show them the way. Killmonger orders the plant in which someone gains the Black Panther power to be destroyed but during the destruction, Nakia steals one and runs off. Then he reveals his motive of empowering “His People” by giving them Wakandan vibranium tech and overthrowing their “oppressors”. The next scene is Nakia, Shuri, and T’Challa’s mother, Ramonda, going to the Jabari tribe asking M’Baku’s help offering the plant to him to fight the Killmonger. M’Baku reveals that T’Challa is still alive but in a coma and shows them to him. They give the plant to T’Challa and is revives him. While in the ancestral plane, T’Chaka tells T’Challa that it is his time to join his ancestors, but T’Challa refuses saying that as long as Killmonger remains on the throne he can’t die. The camera cuts to Killmonger beginning to ship off the weapons, but T’Challa jumps in and slashes down the airship revealing he is still alive. A fight then breaks out between T’Challa, Killmonger, and the border tribe which backs Killmonger. This fight goes on for a while but ends up being T’Challa and Killmonger fighting each other with the Black Panther power and suits. T’Challa wins and decides to open Wakanda’s resources to the world.
The acting as a whole was sub par compared to the big names it had. No one really stood out of the crowd blowing me away in terms of acting. That being said Michael B Jordan, Killmonger, and Sterling K Brown, N’Jobu, gave the most emotional performance. Even then I personally didn’t find them all to compelling, but I believe this to be more of a story setup problem than anything else. I found Winston Duke’s character, M’Boku, somewhat entertaining.
The story of the movie has many problems with it. First off, it offers extremely little into T’Challa’s past, which is okay because of just how long this movie is and how many characters it has along with many subplots and points being made, but I feel as if the movie would have been better with it rather than without it. Speaking of T’Challa, the character arc in this movie goes nowhere. T’Challa mentions the struggle of being a warrior and king to T’Chaka, but never struggles with either and the movie never shows any either. In fact, one could argue that he really only is a warrior in this movie, as he doesn’t even make any kingly decisions until the very end, when he opens Wakanda to the outside world. Also, it’s rather hard to feel tension in any fight T’Challa is in, as he just out right loses a fight or he has his Black Panther suit as it’s literally indestructible and even new to this movie can store and disperse kinetic energy. This made the final action sequence essentially pointless when T’Challa starts to struggle against the Border Tribe army. This story also falls to the huge marvel villain trope of the villian just being the hero with the same powers just different views. In the final battle between T’Challa and Killmonger, they had the same exact suit and Black Panther power up with a vibranium disperser being the only thing to decide the fight. Another problem is how Killmonger obtained control of the suit. For the suit to be controlled by the user Shuri must bind it to the user (at least that the only way shown) and at the time, Shuri wasn’t present for him to have it bound to him. A huge continuity error was brought to MCU with how vibranium is used in this movie. In every other movie in the MCU, vibranium is just known for its property of being the hardest and strongest material on the earth, but in this movie the Wakandans use it to power their cities as well heal people which is a completely new concept. Mind you, this is the material that Captain America’s shield is made of and shared none of these properties. A huge problem in the movie is that besides the opening flashback, there is no origin to the villian and hero besides the fact that their fathers are now dead. Nothing that really looks back on what motivates them. A good example of this is Killmonger throughout the movie say that he was oppressed along with “his people”, but that’s just it the movie never really dives into it and explain exactly what happened to make him think this way. This story likes to talk about a lot of things but never really dives deep into anything just like that another thing that I could categorize as that would be the undertone of the “Wakandan Way”. It seemed if T’Challa didn’t like what someone was doing or wanted to do he would just say that it wasn’t “our way” and it would just be dismissed entirely from the story and just stop. And last but not least the villain just wasn’t good, his motives were just radical so radical to the point of genocide of an entire race and didn’t really have a reason why.
Visual effects were definitely a weak point in this movie. Let me start off by saying when this movie wanted to look good, it looked great, like the Korean fight scene but when it didn’t it looked awful like the ancestral plane scenes and many more. Just by watching, you could tell when an actual set was made for a scene and when it was just a green screen, and for the most part it was just green screen. When a set was created it looked immersive and detailed but the movie copped out of that for the most part with most of the movie being done with a green screen. You could tell when the movie switched from set to green screen as there was a significant amount in loss of quality and desync. An example of this is the last fight between T’Challa and Killmonger, with it being mostly VFX when it came to the dramatic talk at the end it just didn’t looked as if the characters were actually there.
All in all, I give this movie a 4/10. Sub par development of characters, a villian that I just couldn’t get behind, and the rest of the MCU lead to this score was the main reasons for this scoring. If I had to describe this movie it would be as a filler to keep you interested for the next movie, Avengers: Infinity War as this movie essentially ended with the same starting point and little happening in between. Despite the score I gave, I do recommend see this movie as I know many people who loved it, I was just not one of those people.