To begin with, I think we need to give some credit to Every Frame a Painting, which produced this brilliant video about how bad Marvel’s musical scores are. Since it came out in 2016 and went viral, Marvel has made a concerted effort to improve its music and develop some thematic musical connections within individual movies.
That leads us to Black Panther, which probably has the best musical score of any Marvel movie. The score does not necessarily become a character in and of itself as it does in a movie like Dunkirk, but the music is unique, beautiful, and consistent.
Black Panther itself is unique, beautiful, and mostly consistent. Look, let’s get this out of the way. Black Panther is not the masterpiece some are claiming. It is a top tier Marvel movie. Thematically, it is much deeper than most Marvel movies and certainly has themes that will resonate with a black audience (and did) in ways a white audience might not connect with. One scene refers to a white character as “colonizer.”
At a larger scale, Black Panther deals with mature issues better than most any Marvel movie. Those issues include abandonment, absent fathers, and being defined by the mistakes of our fathers. The movie handles those respectfully and sincerely.
Black Panther also has a good bit of humor in it. It does not take itself too seriously and uses some of its seriousness for punchlines. It kept the entertainment going and there were not really any scenes where I felt bored.
Chadwick Boseman, who plays King T’Challa, is the Black Panther. We saw him first in Captain America vs. Iron Man. He plays his character with a real dignity. Michael B. Jordan, known as Erik Kilmonger, is the bad guy who was raised on the streets of Oakland without a dad. I thought he overplayed the role, though it might have just been because of the perfectly understated treatment Boseman gives his character.
The movie had Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett in it, so you know it is good. I think the movie cannot live up to the hype of some. The racial dynamic of the movie has caused all the same sort of over praise that Wonder Woman got, but on steroids. The movie is definitely one of Marvel’s best, but it will not cure cancer or solve world problems as some of the reviews might lead you to believe.
There’s some profanity. There’s a middle finger. And there’s some blood. Of course there is violence and some of it is intense for Marvel. I know my 12 year old could handle a movie like this and I’m pretty sure my 9 year old could handle a movie like this.
Marvel has produced a very solid new entry with some of its best visuals and definitely its best musical score. Honestly, it is starting to make me sad. Marvel has mapped out its road through the Infinity War series where we know some of the characters are going to get killed just because they’re tired of playing them.
I have a hard time believing Marvel is not going to go full social justice warrior crap after that as it reboots or otherwise repackages its franchises that for now, at least, have been mapped out sufficiently to mostly avoid the postmodern nonsense to which its comic books have fallen.