Arts & Reviews

Black Panther: A Unique Flavor to an Overused Template

By: Mike Massotto

Marvel movies are being released almost constantly, and while none of them are particularly bad, a change of pace or structure would be welcome. Upon seeing the atmosphere of Black Panther, I thought that this Marvel film might bring a story as colorful as its setting. However, while “Black Panther” is definitely a well made film, it doesn’t offer anything new other than the setting.

The main character, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), is appointed king of the fictional African country of Wakanda after his father dies in the events of Captain America: Civil War. As king of Wakanda, T’Challa is given the title of Black Panther and has access to the metal known as vibranium, which is said to possess great power but its capabilities are kept very vague. Armed with a high tech vibranium suit and with help from his  tech-savvy younger sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) and his trusty bodyguard Okoye (Danai Gurira), the new Black Panther is tasked with hunting down those attempting to steal vibranium from Wakanda for use as weapons. While this is all golden and well executed, it’s predictable every step of the way. Many scenes set up in the film were able to be pieced together a few minutes before they actually occured, given that you were a diligent viewer. Despite preferring to actually be surprised with the movie at some points, the culture and myth in “Black Panther” was still captivating, from the panther god Bast to the dynamic of the five tribes in Wakanda. The colorful attire of the Wakandan people and the customs needed to become king of Wakanda are thrilling to watch, even more so when these traditions are questioned in the face of the greater good. The soundtrack for “Black Panther” adds to the mysticism of Wakanda, with traditional instruments and contemporary synth beats used to show the contrast of Wakanda’s technological prowess and traditional values.

Unfortunately, “Black Panther” doesn’t stand out enough. Although unique lore and fantastical scenery are packed into this Marvel film, it’s still a Marvel film, with a dramaticized African culture placed overhead to make “Black Panther” distinctive. This causes the movie to suffer in ways that it shouldn’t, especially towards the ending which particularly reeks of a typical Marvel cinematography and script writing, something that over the past nine years viewers such as myself have gotten bored of.

“Black Panther” on its own is a good movie, but falls on its own spear by presenting itself as something new, even though at its core it’s just the same as any other Marvel hero film. I shall award “Black Panther” an 8 out of 10, with praise for its colorful cinema, well picked soundtrack, and unique world building, but condemning its false originality and predictable story. That’s all folks!

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