Redbrick Film offers their opinions on Marvel’s Black Panther, a superhero film already being heralded as a potentially game-changing blockbuster
Luis Freijo- Film Critic
Much hype preceded Black Panther, the film that, supposedly, would open the path for the inclusion of diversity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a problem that had been largely criticized in the Disney franchise. I wonder, however, until what point they have succeeded. Black Panther is, first and foremost, a Marvel movie. That means, of course, that its main goal is to provide entertainment. Objective achieved. Not even a shadow of boredom appears in the film, with the beautiful Wakandan designs, spectacular action sequences, some amazing long-takes and badass dialogue. It lacks some of the jokes of many of its predecessors (particularly Thor: Ragnarok), but it features a couple of them vis-à-vis between Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman (a.k.a Gollum and Bilbo Baggins) and the glorious scene where a white character (Freeman’s) is going to explain something to the Wakandans and he is rudely and rightly shut up.
However, the circumstances of the film created the need of having a sharper political edge than most of Marvel films, and Disney is not very good at crafting that kind of film. It worked with Captain America: Winter Soldier, but something more could have been done with the starting points of Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther. Yes, at some points the discourse about oppression and the need the break the chains works, but the feeling is that the advanced Wakandan technology is more a metaphor of African-American issues than African desires. The film appropriates “Africanness” in the colourful looks, exotic traditions, etc., but only answers to a Western framework of race, resulting thus in an involuntary offensive film for a great percentage of the non-Western audience it might be intended for. Issues of representation in film are always muddy waters, and Disney stands in an ambiguous place with Black Panther.
Megan Whitehouse- Film Critic
With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 97% it’s hard not to have impossibly high expectations when walking in to see Black Panther; although with Ryan Coogler at the helm of this latest instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one can rest assured that the film will deliver. Black Panther takes on a different direction to the franchises’ previous instalments. Where Captain America looked at the rise and fall of an unsuspecting hero and Iron Man dwelled on the conscience of a billionaire playboy, Black Panther delves into deeper issues, focusing instead on the notion of oppression and the discrimination of minorities. It’s refreshing to see a film with such pull at the box office tackle such important and relevant issues. Chadwick Boseman delivers a decent performance as the eponymous hero but it is Michael B. Jordan that stands out as the power hungry, remorseless villain ‘Killmonger’.
Jordan strikes the balance between raw emotion and careless apathy perfectly; elevating any scene he appears in. The costume design of this film must be singled out for praise; it is absolutely outstanding and Ruth E. Carter deserves an Oscar on the spot for her work. The real gem of this film however, is the performance from newcomer Letitia Wright as Shuri, the younger sister of our hero. She is full of witticisms and most of the film’s comedy falls to her to deliver, her timing is perfect, she is definitely one to watch. This film is an impressive celebration of African culture and although it staggers somewhat in terms of pacing towards the final act the performances from the cast and the brilliant direction by Ryan Coogler ensure it remains a brilliant and thought-provoking addition to the ever-growing MCU.
Matt Taylor- Film Critic
Marvel’s Black Panther, from director Ryan Coogler continues the trend of Marvel movies while also being a new beast entirely: it’s the first mainstream superhero movie to feature a predominantly black cast, making it one of the most important films of the decade. And, thankfully, it doesn’t disappoint. The cast are simply perfect. Chadwick Boseman is excellent as T’Challa, being able to carry on what he started in Civil War but having more room to breathe and develop his character. Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger ranks easily among the best Marvel villains to date; he’s extremely physical, allowing for some excellent fights between him and T’Challa, but he also has entirely understandable and sympathetic motives, making him more human than many characters we’ve seen in this universe.
The other standout is Letitia Wright who’s performance as Shuri -T’Challa’s younger sister- embodies such childish glee it’s infectious, and her chemistry with Boseman is just wonderful. The rest of the cast (including Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Daniel Kaluuya, Forest Whittaker, Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis) are also on top form.
Everything about the production of the film feels incredibly fresh – an African setting allows for an entirely new feel and aesthetic to the film. The city of Wakanda is gorgeously realised, and it all feels so authentic, right down to the smallest details. It’s fantastically shot, too – Coogler directs with a bold and superb vision, leading to some superb cinematography (the Ancestral Plane is particularly good-looking), and some fantastic fight sequences (a mix between sharper, quickly edited ones and longer takes that are just breathtaking). The film’s music is also brilliant – it’s an interesting mix between a score from Ludwig Göransson and original songs by Kendrick Lamar, which is dramatic when it needs to be, but also feels fresh and epic in the film’s cooler moments.
Todd Waugh Ambridge- Film Critic
Black Panther may be the eighteenth film in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, yet its arrival utterly rejuvenates the franchise. Any feelings of fatigue or boredom have been reignited by this instant hit that tells a deep, resounding and socially-responsible story while staying true to the MCU style. Ryan Coogler directs the the nearly all-black cast – front-lined expertly by Chadwick Boseman – in a film that is as important and timely as it is charming and entertaining.
After so many entries, the MCU is always improving, with Black Panther delivering the best villain the franchise has ever had – and not just by default. Michael B. Jordan portrays Killmonger as a fanatic, but one whose views you can fully trace back to understandable, believable and socially-intriguing origins.
His character arc in the film is as strong as the Black Panther’s and both go all the way back to the idea that “with great power comes great responsibility”. Despite this, the truth is that Black Panther doesn’t feel like an ordinary superhero film. Sure, it’s got the obligatory action scenes and quick-fire quipping, but it is something more. In a fully-packed theatre of kids, elders and everyone in between, you could feel the waves Coogler is making. This is a film that will mean a lot to a lot of people, and if the MCU continues to pump films out of this quality, there are no signs of it stopping – nor any need of it.