Black Panther: My Spoiler-Filled Problems With A Good Movie.
I saw this movie and loved stuff about it. The world-building of Wakanda was excellent. The performances were mostly extremely engaging. The characters were mostly very well-drawn in terms of their personalities and motivations. There were some fun action scenes and moments. The visuals and sound were wonderful. Also, I was really happy to see this character and his supporting cast given center stage. But there were a few storytelling things that bugged me. There are BIG SPOILERS ahead, so if you haven’t seen the movie you not only want to avoid plot points but also might not be able to follow the arguments I’m making. Go see the movie. I did like it. But…
1) I felt like it would have been better to introduce Black Panther for the purposes of the film as a self-contained entity by starting on the young soldier in the truck with Nakia and following him out to where the reveal of Black Panther in the tree is done with the barking dog. Instead, we were robbed of a dramatic reveal for the character so you basically had to have seen Civil War for that.
2) There really wasn’t nearly enough conversation between T’Challa and Killmonger about why they disagreed and how they would do things differently to establish the reasons for the conflict beyond “Killmonger = Angry” Because of this, it seems odd when T’Challa makes such a huge change to his country’s interactions with the rest of the world. I understand the grades of difference in their approaches to this, but I’m not sure the movie does a good enough job of showing us that they understand the differences and have actually made an attempt to compromise, then finding it impossible.
3) Man-Ape (or the guy who is, let’s face it, Man-Ape) doesn’t leave any wiggle room for sending his warriors to help and we’re not shown him being motivated to do so after that conversation, so those warriors showing up just seems like it happened because the plot needed it to. We’ve seen another version of that plot moment done better in the Lord of the Rings movies.
4) Can somebody tell me why the ships that were holding Ross back with cables didn’t just destroy him instead other than because we needed him to succeed for the story? If he’s a great pilot, then why not just let him be a great pilot? I have no problem with him needing help with accessing the technology, it’s just that it seems he should be dead by then. This looks like a false building of suspense. Also it was the first time we’d seen the cables used, so we had no idea how they are dangerous or how long he has to escape.
5) Three words: TERRIBLE CGI RHINOS.
6) The final battle between T’Challa and Killmonger doesn’t really give any reason for his victory versus his defeat in the previous battle and his final move to win is really just “cool” without saying anything about him or the difference between the characters. Why did Killmonger lose this time? Because it was time in the run time of the movie for him to lose, that’s why.
7) The movie made use of two excellent villains and killed them both off. the MCU doesn’t have villains to spare, guys. Why do we keep killing them? My hope is that maybe Klaw will be resurrected by Thanos in his pure sound form. That would be awesome.
Like I said at the top, there was plenty to like about Black Panther, including some compelling characters and the visual style. Michael B Jordan’s performance as Killmonger was particularly excellent. But like with Thor: Ragnarok, I don’t think it deserves the massive heaps of praise it’s getting, and I don’t think I’m just being nit-picky for the most part.