February is Black History Month and what better way to celebrate than going to see a motion picture that embraces and emblazons the beauty, strength, and nuance of African culture and the heroic spirit of the African people?
I am of course talking about...
All kidding aside, this movie is indeed a triumph. It was an excellent film, being both engaging and entertaining. I have to say that it was really refreshing to see this epic after the dismal experience that was Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Black Panther did what many other such films fail to do; It built a world, gave it grandeur, and yet it made the central conflict personal.
Although ostensibly a Superhero movie, it felt much more like a Fantasy film, albeit one that's really more Science Fantasy. Black Panther's overall feel and aesthetic is closer to Lord of the Rings crossed with a James Bond movie than it is an Avengers/Marvel Superhero flick. I liked that. A lot. It gave it its own identity beyond the Afro-futurism look of its costumes, setting, and technology (although that was perfectly done).
While the film has both a cool hero and an interesting villain, it has as its best feature an excellent supporting cast. Through the secondary, and even tertiary characters, the Black Panther movie creates a sense that the world within it is real and the people know each other. They have personalities, interests, and desires all their own. They are imperfect, they make mistakes, but they try to do the right thing or what they believe to be the right thing. In some ways this even extends to the the villain, which is what makes him one of the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far.
I can't say enough good things about the movie, so I'd like to change the subject slightly and talk about the films importance.
Barking Alien, the blog, isn't a place where I normally put forth my personal views on subjects like politics or social issues. Not normally. There have been a number of times over the years where I've bent or broken my own rules and this might be considered one of them by some. So be it.
For a very long time now we've seen films in which super-powered heroes and the lords of fantastic kingdoms battled the forces of evil to save the world, or even the universe. They have also largely been White.
Certainly Black Panther isn't the very first Black hero on film. We've seen Blade, Hancock, and Spawn, but none of these have what King T'Challa's movie has. Black Panther has the main character as a rich and powerful individual, surpassing in both wealth and influence such characters as Batman and Iron Man.
T'Challa is a King. He rules a nation. His nation is powerful, beautiful, and more advanced than what we have seen so far on the world of Marvel Cinematic Earth.
T'Challa is not a freak, a wash-out, or man fighting a secret war (well, not exactly). T'Challa is a major part of a much larger universe. He is as big and as important to Marvel films as is Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and Doctor Strange.
As such Black Panther, both the character and the film, is of significance to the greater mythos he dwells within and to an audience who finally have an A-List Superhero is looks as they do.
P.S.: Post title is a reference to the song 'Black Cat' by David 'Ziggy' Marley.