What Did You Think of Black Panther?

I got lucky and was able to watch Black Panther today.

I say “lucky” because I assumed that a 4:00 show on a Sunday–even for a highly anticipated movie from Marvel/Disney–would be easy to buy tickets for at the box office. But on a whim, just in case, I ended up buying them in advance.

As it turns out, not only was the 4:00 show sold out, but the 7:00 show was also sold out. On a Sunday. I’ve never seen that happen. And it turned out to be awesome–it was a great crowd.

I went into the movie with really high expectations. I had avoided all but the original teaser trailer, so I knew very little about the movie other than that it was very well received by reviewers (like this one). I’ve been jittery with excitement all weekend.

I’ll talk about what I liked and didn’t like below, with mild spoilers.

The Good

  • I have to start off by saying that I love that this movie simply exists (and that it made a lot of money, which hopefully means more movies like it will exist). There are so few blockbuster films with predominantly black casts (and directors, writers, and producers), so I’m glad this movie was made.
  • I thought the worldbuilding of Wakanda was amazing. It’s vastly more technologically advanced than any other modern society, yet it also feels true to African culture. For example, I loved the design of the flying vehicles. They didn’t feel like generic ships–they felt inherently African.
  • I really liked how the movie wasn’t about saving the world or defeating some giant, nefarious force.
  • There was one character who brought tears to my eyes a few times because of how fierce her loyalty to Wakanda was. She put country above everything else, but not in a flat, cold way. Really, the characters in this movie are superbly fleshed out.
  • Finally, the action scenes in Korea (the casino and car chase) were some of the best action scenes I’ve seen on film. You could tell exactly what was happening, there were several crowd-pleasing moments, and there was 10-second single-take sequence that had me on the edge of my seat.

The Constructive

  • As much as I loved the action scene in Korea, and while I thought the other action scenes were evocative and entertaining, they were full of tons of quick cuts that made it hard to tell exactly what was happening at times. Granted, it was better than in most action movies, but given what director Ryan Coogler did in Creed, I was hoping for more.
  • Several core elements of the movie hinge on a trial-by-combat system of determining Wakanda’s next ruler. As much as I liked the mix of futuristic technology and tribal aspects of Wakandan worldbuilding, it seemed out of place here. Given how advanced they are, why are they still determining the new ruler based on trial by combat? Why is that an option? Do melee combat skills correlate at all to how good of a king or queen you’ll be?
  • At the end of Black Panther, there is almost nothing different than the beginning of the movie. Sure, Wakanda decides to share its technology with the world, and a few people are dead, but that’s pretty much it. Compare this to Iron Man or The Incredibles. There are big differences between the beginning and end of the movie–there’s a sense of progression. Maybe I just need to use my imagination more, because the decision at the end to open their doors to the world actually is a big deal. We just don’t get to see how big of a deal it will be.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Black Panther. What did you think?