Millions of years ago a meteorite crashed to Earth, infusing a magical mineral called vibranium into the plants and soil of what would become the African nation of Wakanda. Eventually, humans came along and were able to make use of this mineral, which when consumed, gives the bearer super human powers. For generations the tribes of Wakanda fought amongst themselves until finally it was decided that only one person should have these super powers and that person should be the Black Panther, the King of Wakanda.
In modern times, vibranium is used in Wakanda’s advanced technology and also to hide Wakandan society from the rest of the world. The current King T’Chala (Chadwick Boseman) believes as his predecessors did, that the world is not ready for the responsibility of using vibranium.
But there are forces in the world that think it’s time for vibranium to be released to the world, even if only to weaponize the oppressed.
We say, “Black Panther is too shallow to be deep, too disposable to be important.”
TAYLOR: There are interesting aspects to this film which make it stand out from all the other comic book movies and these aspects do stem from the real oppression of Africans, but the story does not properly examine these facets. What we have here is a story of a choice: On one side you’ve got the King and the Wakandans, basically hiding and hoarding all their power for themselves and on the other you have a growing rebel force who, having grown tired of being oppressed, wish to make use of this technology to fight back. If the story had been about using Wakandan technology to help, not harm, then the film could have lead to a global black solidarity, an emancipation. As it is, we simply have a tale of guys that are neither good nor bad, fighting for their right to continue fighting.
HOWE: I am a little torn about this movie, on one hand I am looking at it thinking it is a beautiful looking film with its colours, its dialogue and execution of some of its fight scenes. Yet on the other hand I got a little lost in the timeframe between this and the first time we saw Black Panther in The Avengers movie, or was it Civil War (see what I mean?) because this flick tells us how he became the superhero where as I thought he was him already. So instead of trying to figure that out, I disengaged my brain and enjoyed it for what it is, a comic book film.
TAYLOR: If the filmmakers truly wanted to examine racial tension and oppression, they would have left the white man as the bad guy. For a while in the film, they do, Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) is a terrorist and all-around bad guy with racist overtones who possesses some stolen Wakandan tech. But Klaue is never seen as effective and his time in this film is short lived. Instead we see only Wakandans fighting other Wakandans. For a film that promised to deliver “a grown up movie about an African superhero,” all we have is a very silly film with a lot of window dressing. This film is not at all about oppression or racism, it just points to these things and says, “This is why we should be fighting, but instead let us fight because I want to be King.”
HOWE: Even though I love Serkis as an actor, my biggest gripe is once again, why not get an actor from that country to play the part? Why not get a South African to play a South African? Putting on an accent just doesn’t do the role justice, and please don’t get me started on fellow Brit Martin Freeman, his American twang is just plain awful and to me he will always be that Office bloke, Tim.
Taylor gives the Black Panther 3 pointless rhinos out of 5.
Howe gives it 3.5 sneaky sneakers out of 5.