Black Panther is reinvigorating the superhero genre. That statement is kinda shocking, since the genre (especially the Marvel Cinematic Universe which includes Black Panther) is making money hand over fist.
Every MCU movie opens #1, even Ant-Man. So can you reinvigorate something that still appears to be quite vigored? Yes.
Save Them From Themselves
There are a LOT of super hero movies out there. Marvel will release four this year (including an Ant-Man sequel). Last year we had Spider-Man return along with a third Thor, and a Guardians of the Galaxy sequel. That’s an average of one every four months. And DC chimed in with Wonder Woman and a bloated Justice League. This year they’ll give us Aquaman. The DC movies don’t bring in nearly the cash the Marvel films do. And last year Universal tried to launch its Dark Universe with Tom Cruise in The Mummy. It bombed and their whole slate of franchises (Bride of Frankenstein, Creature From the Black Lagoon, etc.) is on hold.
Too many movies, too many characters, too little time to follow them all. It adds up to fatigue. All the shoot ’em up climactic scenes tend to run together after a while. By the end of Thor: Ragnarok, we were rooting for Asgard to be destroyed so we could all just go home.
And this is where Black Panther hits the reset button.
Wakanda Saves the World
The world of Wakanda takes everything you love about the MCU (strong characters, amazing visuals, snarky dialogue, and overall joy) to the next level. From a story perspective Black Panther is a lesson in no-good-deed-goes-unpunished. Even the bad guy has good intentions. Each character is well-developed without eclipsing the others. Honestly, the world of Wakanda could become its own universe and give several characters their own spinoffs. Nakia, Shuri, and Okoye to the front of the line! Even the climactic battle scene is memorable with a touch of humanity. Anytime you can stop the action and get licked by a heavily armored rhino, you know you’ve scored.
No doubt, as the first credits scene confirmed, Wakanda is going to venture out more into the world of the Avengers. But as the second credit scene reminded us, the world of the Avengers is already inside Wakanda. I hope Marvel will invite us back. It is a beautiful place with many stories, prequels and sequels, to be told.
Better Days Ahead
At a time when we are used to the same characters fighting the same battles with the same dramatic music, Black Panther is coming in and doing it better. Better stories, better music, better fights, better costumes, better sets. Now it’s up to the rest of the superheroes to keep up.. or get knocked over the head with a vibranium hammer.
Black Panther > Star Wars
Of the many records set by Black Panther, this is one likely to last awhile: it made $40.2 million on a Monday. A MONDAY! Most #1 movies don’t make $40 million over an entire weekend. That edges out Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Yes, Black Panther is setting Star Wars-esque records.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
Black Magic. This cocktail is made from Kahlua coffee liqueur, Vodka, and lemon juice. Serve on the rocks.