Truth be told, there is too much in Black Panther for just one review. You’ll need time to process everything within the movie. It is UHQ. The movie addresses issues earnestly, but it takes the sense of play typical of Marvel to a new level.
Take one of the villains. (Spoilers in this paragraph.) We are introduced to an erudite-looking, perhaps even professorial (although youthful) African-American examining artefacts at a British museum. Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger requests the attention of a museum employee, keen to learn about the provenance of the pieces in the museum displays. As the conversation continues, it becomes apparent that her beverage has been spiked and that he is an Angry Black Man, who wants to take back the artefacts that were appropriated by colonial conquest centuries earlier. We can understand his justifications – indeed, we can sympathise. Next, a white South African arms dealer (a marvellously psychotic Andy Serkis) shows up and it’s clear Killmonger is under his employ. So what is his motive, if he allies himself with a man who is clearly a bushy-bearded Afrikaans lunatic? We’re three moves in, and there are far more to come with this character alone.
We’ve read some criticism about the escaping ships at the movie’s end, and how the setpiece seems tacked-on. But isn’t the movie a supermassive wink at Star Wars? Look to The Last Jedi, at the rebels’ escaping ships. Here in Black Panther is not an evil empire, but a good and righteous kingdom, taking their rebels to task. And couldn’t the same be said of Rian Johnson’s movie, and its escaping rebels, which itself subverts typical Star Wars tropes?
If there is reason for the connections between the stars, it’s a beautiful tip to Kevin Bacon.
Ryan Coogler delivers.