I have been a comic book lover for practically all of my life. In childhood in the 1960’s I became a Black Panther fan in the barbershop in Rowan, Iowa. While waiting for the inevitable butch haircut which I didn’t actually want, I picked up the issue of the Avengers comic book that featured the original encounter with the Vision. And at that point, the Panther was already a member of the Avengers, battling against the threat of Ultron. He had previously entered the Marvel Comics world in an issue of the Fantastic Four which I had never read, and I hadn’t ever encountered the character in my comic book reading before that barbershop reading session. I spent an hour waiting for farmer haircuts reading and rereading that comic book.
I was thrilled to have Marvel make a movie about one of my all-time favorite Avengers. I would’ve loved the movie even if Wesley Snipes had succeeded in making it in the 1990’s. I was predestined, as the uncritical critic, to love this movie no matter what.
But then they made a movie that was so far beyond my expectations that I couldn’t help but fall in love with the hero all over again. It was simply the best movie Marvel has made so far in the Super Hero genre. I know I said this about other movies they have made, but they keep doing better and better. It was the best example of character development and powerful story-telling that they have done so far.
The villain Killmonger is the most finely developed villain Marvel has created to date. The portrayal was sensitive, sympathetic, and totally gut-twisting while you grudgingly had to condemn the villain because he was obviously threatening to destroy everything that was good as a reaction to the wrong that was done to him.
Of course, you expect a total love-gush of a movie review from an uncritical movie critic like me. I don’t review movies I didn’t love. But there are definitely people out there who don’t like this movie (in spite of a 100% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes). Some point out that the government of Wakanda has no banks or colleges or research centers (other than the king’s sister’s own) to support the science they are supposedly using. The science is portrayed as being just as miraculous and magical as that in Dr. Strange. Some rather wrong-headed people have criticized the movie for being racially charged and political. But how is an overwhelmingly black cast and production racially charged if both heroes and villains in the story are the same race? Surely Bilbo Baggins and Gollum don’t turn the tide against this movie. Not only are they in the minority, but they are balanced. One good, one evil. So I am willing to summarily dismiss any objections others have to this wonderful movie. I don’t even need to think about that.
I saw the Black Panther movie this weekend. I loved it. I knew I would since the moment they first announced they would make it. Now I can’t wait for the next one.