Black Panther: Standard Superhero Movie with a little Wakanda Flair

Addison Scufsa

All hail King Killmonger! Black Panther may be the namesake of the movie, but the villains of Black Panther stole the show in what was one of Marvel’s better superhero movies to date. Led by a rich world and story, excellent performances from Michael B. Jordan and Andy Serkis, and great superhero powers, Black Panther shines in all the right places. 

Although in the Marvel Cinematic Universe moviegoers require little to no background knowledge fully to enjoy Black Panther. The story revolves around T’Challa, the Black Panther, taking the throne following his father’s death. Faced immediately with threats from abroad and within, T’Challa is forced to make several key decisions that affect Wakanda and the rest of the world. 

One of the most noticeable differences between this movie and other Marvel movies is its setting.  Wakanda is the movie’s strongest asset, creating a stunning and colorful country and culture that blends traditional African themes with highly advanced technology. It works very well, helping reinforce the idea of Wakanda being highly advanced but separated totally from the world and yet quite traditional. 

The technology also makes Black Panther extraordinarily interesting, as well. When in combat, he leaps and throws things around thanks to a special plant found in Wakanda. At the same time shrugs off massive blows with a Vibranium suit upgraded to be absolutely badass in the movie. Along with a couple other special powers, the Black Panther is one of the best Marvel superheroes.

While I found the villains’ backgrounds to be somewhat uninspired, performances by Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger and Andy Serkis as Klaw were by far the best in the movie. Jordan was very convincing in his portrayal as a jaded outcast of Wakanda which helped the storyline tremendously. Andy Serkis stole every scene he was in, turning what could have been mere plot-filling scenes into some of the best in the movie. 

As a whole, the first half of the movie was much better than the second half, thanks in part to Andy’s performance. The problem with Marvel movies is they can be formulaic. As the movie transitions into the third act, viewers might think that they have seen this before. Thankfully, the characters and setting were enough to prevent it from hurting the movie too much, but it is was still disappointing to see.

Although few, the moments of awkwardness stuck with me for a while. One joke in particular using the, “What are those??” line was especially awful. Certain other scenes just ended abruptly as well, especially toward the end of the movie. Characters that were essential for most of the movie faded from the screen with a whimper.

Despite the criticisms, Black Panther was still an above-average superhero movie. The movie used its characters and story well, with a few exceptions. Thus it was a welcome addition to the Marvel Universe. Some reviews are giving it more praise than it deserves for more superficial reasons just as those who are harsh critics do. Taken strictly as a superhero movie, Black Panther does better than most. It also has posted some pretty impressive attendance and financial numbers so far, becoming the fifth-best domestic opening in U.S. history and the second biggest Marvel movie opening ever. Based on those numbers, it is safe to say T’Challa will be back. He earned it.