So last night I took a break from
work and writing my next post dealing with the Mueller indictment and saw Black Panther
. And I want to talk about it. As per usual, I’ll keep things spoiler-free
above the fold and warn you before I get spoilerific. Without spoilers, I remember getting a very
“Wonder Woman” vibe when reading the reviews.
Now, I liked Wonder Woman. I own
a copy of it and have watched and enjoyed it several times. It is a legitimately good movie. But it was much better reviewed than it
deserved to be. And you got the
suspicion that people were worried about being called sexist if they dare to be
insufficiently exuberant in their praise.
It took me a while to think of
what this reminded me of, and then I remembered this video. Watch it to the end. It’s pretty amazing/horrifying:
Now, in this video, I am not sure
there was any genuine enthusiasm for Stalin.
I mean, if they are that scared of him, how much can they really like
him? On the other hand, I absolutely
believe that there is a lot that is genuinely good about Wonder Woman, so I
presume that a large part of the praise it got was entirely genuine. But there was also an element where I
wondered if they were going massively over the top just because they were
afraid of being “the first one to stop clapping.” And I began to get the sense that the same
thing was happening with Black Panther.
And I was right. It was good.
I recommend it. But the praise is
waaaaaay over the top. For instance, I
saw reviews comparing Michael B. Jordan’s turn as Killmonger as being like
Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight.
If they mean he is as scary as that iconic character, no, he’s not even
close and he’s not meant to be. If they
mean well-acted, yeah, Jordan did a pretty damn good job, but in a contest I
think I’d still give the win to Ledger.
Although to be fair to Jordan, it’s a bit of comparing apples to
oranges. A good scary performance is
much different than what Jordan was giving us.
Jordan’s Killmonger actually more resembles Michael Shannon’s depiction
of Zod, in Man of
Steel, in that he
is shown to be a determined and ruthless follower of comprehensible ideology. I’m not saying you necessarily agree with
their ideology, but it was an ideology that seemed pretty logically consistent
and worked out.
(Well, Zod’s ideology was
consistent at least until Superman screwed up his plans so thoroughly that Zod
completely flipped his sh*t and decided to go on a killing spree, but in that
movie’s context it made sense that events would completely break his mind and
drive him insane.)
That being said, Killmonger,
despite having a silly name (that was surprisingly well-justified in the movie)
was really one of the best villains in the Marvel Universe. And Andy Sirkis is actually pretty awesome as
secondary returning villain Klaw.
Also, toward the end, there is a
character death that was surprisingly moving—really probably the most moving
moment since the funeral at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
And finally, before we get really
spoilerish, let me point out that you don’t need to stay for the final after
credits scene. As we all know, Marvel
really loves to put in those mid- and post-credits scenes, sometimes setting up
sequels, sometimes tying up a loose end, sometimes schmucking around (I’m
looking at you, Guardians of the Galaxy 2
but with affection). So there is a
mid-credits scene that I won’t reveal, but I will say I think it should have
just been part of the movie. And then
when all the credits are done, they have an after credits scene that you
frankly didn’t need to see (although there are some kids who are pretty funny,
so maybe it is worth seeing it for that).
Why you don’t need to see it is...