Over the past few years I’ve found myself staying away from the marketing around movies that I want to watch because they give away too much information. The entire story plays out in the trailer. I’m not sure why anyone would want to go watch the thing in the cinema after that. So my approach has been to go to the other extreme – ignore all trailers/articles/podcasts. That way all I go in with is a basic knowledge of what the movie is about.
With Black Panther, that was fairly impossible. The hype has been resounding and I was curious about how that would translate into the movie-watching experience.
Director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed) builds a world where ancient heritage and cutting-edge technology co-exist effortlessly, men and women play roles in society defined by their strengths and yet, nothing can keep a good old family drama from going down in the most explosive manner possible.
T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) is the successor to the throne as king of Wakanda and his responsibilities to his people kick in the moment he becomes king. His circle of insiders consists of Okoye (Danai Gurira), head of the order of the Dora Milaje which is the king’s personal guard; Shuri (Letitia Wright), his whip-smart, tech genius younger sister; and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) a spy for Wakanda and the girl T’Challa pines for. They go off on a mission worthy of a Bond movie and things escalate rather quickly, taking the action from England and South Korea all the way back to Wakanda whose borders have remained firmly closed to the world until the events within this movie. CIA operative Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) is the first to be let in–under extreme circumstances–but the real threat is Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who has a bone to pick with T’Challa and is in no mood for half measures.
What are the expectations from a movie like this? Different ones for different people. Casual movie-goers like me just want a good time at the movies and Black Panther delivers drama, thrilling fight sequences, great characters (shoutout to Shuri and Okoye for being so badass), and a solid story that doesn’t get too indulgent or meandering. Really, that’s all I wanted from this. I’m not invested in the Marvel superhero universe so that larger context is lost on me. Also, I should point out that the humour in this film (and there is a healthy dose of it), is of a much higher grade than the predictable quips that are the bane of a lot of Marvel movies. I know they get huge laughs, but they are so predictable that laughter might as well be canned.
The next level of movie-goer is the fan that is invested in the superhero universe. I was with someone from this category and he enjoyed the film as much as I did. There was the fair point he made that this movie did not have any particular stand-out sequences that would have repeat watch value and I see how that is the case.
The final category of people who have high expectations of this film are those for whom this film means more than just a few hours spent at the movies. These are the people for whom this film means representation – on screen, in the movie business, on the global stage of stories that need to be told. For those people, the success of this film (and it is a success already, the numbers are saying) means paving the way for more stories and opportunities and mad props to Coogler and his team for making this happen in such a glorious way.
Can I just take a moment to say how incredible the costumes were? Mad good.
I strongly suggest you watch this in the cinemas. Our experience suffered from a crappy 3D screen and even so it was a stunning visual experience. Go watch this, and let us know what you thought in the comments below.