Too good for Hollywood: Black Panther Image: Twitter
Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is growing up — it makes sense since it just had a class photo, and kind of graduated. But in all seriousness, MCU is straight up making superhero films for adults now — the R-ratings aside. Post Black Panther, nobody can ever ridicule or even question the intellectual quotient of a cine-comic buff.
Black Panther, MCU's first black superhero film, has such a magnificent social resonance — anybody who has ever read a newspaper cannot deny the utter fierceness with which the movie tries to get through to its audience.
While talking about the movie, Daniel Kaluuya (who plays W'Kabi, the head of Wakanda's Border Security tribe) had called the film an "African blockbuster". "Ryan Coogler (the director) is just man dem. He’s like us! He’s a normal dude, in a Golden State hat and a Tupac T-shirt, directing the whole set. It’s the most beautiful thing to see," he had said. Coogler's vision is so sharp, his Wakanda is so radiant and comprehensive, it is almost too good for Hollywood.
Black Panther emerged in the middle 60s, (prior to the Black Panther party) during the Civil Rights Movement. He was the first mainstream, black superhero and was @Marvel’s answers to Batman. Most of the characters in the comics were people of color. This happened in one issue. pic.twitter.com/eZBs1qqja9— Pam (@ricksltlsister) February 14, 2018
The film goes above and beyond its VFX and its Vibranium suits — Black Panther is so different from MCU's earlier outings, if Stan Lee didn't pop up, we'd think it's just some iconic two-hour long Kendrick Lamar music video. Here's what we thought of the movie:
The. Score. Is. Lit.
We don't know if DC is looking, but this is how you soundtrack a superhero movie. Grammy nominee Ludwig Goransson's background score is path-breaking. The film knows how to handle its drama (another reason it's too good for Hollywood), and does not overuse the rap, in spite of having the most stellar hip-hop curation ever (courtesy Kendrick again).
In one of the sequences, as King T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) explore the latter's high-end and swanky lab, a sound of distant drum rolls are heard — which echoes the old-meets-new spirit of Wakanda — and we seriously hope Hollywood is taking notes, because this stuff is next-level. In scenes where T'Challa is to be pronounced king, or even when Erik Killmonger (Michael B Jordan) is to be coronated, the film makes the most of its rap cred.
We will get to the Black Panther in a bit, but let's discuss Mr Dreadlocks Killmonger for a minute. Michael B Jordan is somehow even smoother and deadlier than his Creed avatar (another Coogler hit). He is the abandoned cousin of T'Challa, and the one man wronged by the fair Wakandians. Jordan brings a dark grit to his performance, and he is not just a trash-talking demigod or a Thanos — he is Killmonger.
He steals an antique mask from a British museum because he was 'feeling it,' and looked like he could break into a rap any minute. The time for a gangsta Marvel supervillain has arrived, and so has Killmonger.
Stop hurting T'Challa
For a king, T'Challa aka Black Panther goes through a LOT. We know he has super skills, but seriously, let the boy breathe. He is challenged by tribe warriors, buried twice (well, for a ritual), thrown off cliffs. Even Game of Thrones doesn't hurt its kings so bad.
If you thought GoT's trial-by-combat is too harsh, wait till you see the combat which the Wakandians have set up for their would-be kings. Basically, you are stripped of all your superpowers and you have to fight anybody who challenges you, and if you lose you die. It is the throne or a coffin — c'mon Wakanda, be realistic.
Dora Milaje are the real MVP
the dora milaje can slay me anytime they want and i wouldn’t blink an eye. 🙌🏼 pic.twitter.com/uI2gk0dHZd— captain* (@iamgeekingout) February 15, 2018
Let's just say the Avengers need not fear Thanos if Dora Milaje is on their army — they will sort that the big, bald guy situation in a day. Danai Gurira, as Okoye, the powerful and unyielding head of the all-female Wakandian special forces, is basically a textbook titled 'How to be a bawse lady 101.'
"Guns... so primitive," says Okoye during a face-off. Shots — fired — to the American gun laws.
Watson with an American accent
We repeat, Watson with an American accent. Martin Freeman — TV's John Watson has an American accent in this movie. He also had one in Captain America: Civil War — but we just wanted some space to talk about it. We wonder what Sherlock would say to this?
Coogler and cinematographer Rachel Morrison deserve some kind of a special President's award or something (oh, by Prez we mean Obama). Translating comic books on screen — no matter how hard the makers try — are virtually always flawed attempts. Consider Civil War or even Iron Man 2, the films which ended up having a bleh colour pattern — as they had to be shot realistically. Black Panther had no such crutch — Coogler literally ran wild with his imagination — from the costumes to the armoured rhinos, no MCU film has been so colour-effective as Black Panther.
Andy Serkis honestly has the most fun in this — no, we mean he actually screams out stuff like "That was awesome," and "Let's have some fun." As the sketchy black market arms dealer Ulysses Klaue, he has no morals and doesn't really care about who lives as long he has fun. We get you, Andy.
The last battle
The climactic battle sequence — where Killmonger and Black Panther fight out on a subway track, while the tribes fight each other on mainland is basically where the film shows what its made of. It is bloodless, beautiful and bad-a**
Justice for Killmonger
I’ll wait until the rest of the universe sees Black Panther before I go in depth about how great Michael B Jordan was as Killmonger and the exceptional way his narrative was handled. pic.twitter.com/KCYVlWr4iF— Andreas Hale (@AndreasHale) February 14, 2018
Killmonger did not understand why the Wakandians, in spite of being so supremely equipped, do not go beyond their borders and share their powers, to empower the oppressed minorities. As a black kid growing up in Oakland, we get why he would want to smuggle Vibranium weapons out into the world. T'Challa stops him with his "I'm not the king of all people, I'm the King of Wakanda," BS.
But by the end of the film, T'Challa sets up the Wakandian Outreach Centre in California and tells the United Nations that Wakanda is now ready for bigger worldly battles. That was what Killmonger had wanted all along — he just had a wrong way of going about it. As Killmonger dies in the arms of T'Challa, you almost feel like Black Panther could at least tell his dying cousin about the cause.
The Africa which could have been
A white person in Wakanda is literally referred to as 'the coloniser,' which is well, historically true. But this is a very timely statement in the midst of a certain Trump's 'shithole countries' comment. Wakanda is a country which was never colonised — and we might have had something like Wakanda had the colonisations never happened — and the thought itself is a masterfully done jibe envisioned by Coogler.
The ending of Black Panther is the the most beautiful thing ever in any MCU film — as T'Challa, an actual black superhero/king meets a random black kid at an LA playground, the film cuts off to its end credits. And if you have understood what the film stands for, you might get the immense significance of the moment.
Nothing, just checking out T'Challa's UN scarf —which is fire.
The UN session where Black Panther talks about Wakanda's cause makes up the first post-credit scene. The second scene has a major, major surprise — and we won't ruin it for you. Let's just say a certain Soldier — that's too obvious — comes back.