Saturday, February 17, 2018

Thoughts on Black Panther (Spoilers!)

Fair warning - there are going to be spoilers in this post. So if you haven't seen Black Panther yet, and want to remain spoiler-free, don't read on.

If you'd like to read my spoiler-free review, please click here.

(Spoiler-filled discussion after the jump)

So, Black Panther. Assorted thoughts...

I said in my review that they did a much better job with the villains than has been the norm for the MCU, and that's still true. Killmonger was a very well-developed villain, with a motivation and a plan that was clear. Ulysses Klaue was also a fine villain, giving us a manic fun performance that I would have loved to see pop up in other MCU films.


I mean, seriously. The only main villains I can think of off the top of my head who didn't die were Loki, Trevor Slattery/The Mandarin, Adrian Toombs/The Vulture, and... um... Could that really be it? In 18 movies, only 3 villains make it out alive?

I don't count Thanos, because he's been more a behind-the-scenes presence up until now. Nor do I count Justin Hammer, since he was more there just to facilitate the real villain, Whiplash. Who dies.

Not only does Marvel struggle to have good villains, but they're profligate with them, killing them off even when they're good characters.

* * *

Following up on my statement in the review:
Having seen it, there wasn't any "white people are evil" stuff (aside from a few exceptions about which I won't go into details), and the ultimate message of the movie was actually quite uplifting.
What I was referring to there were the couple of times the white CIA agent was called a "colonizer". That's the most egregious example of politics in the film that I noticed, and it was completely undermined by the final message of the film, that "we should all be one tribe."

Killmonger's hatred of white people as "oppressors" and who seemingly exist only to steal stuff from black people is one of his defining motivations as a villain. So to the extent that message is in the film, it's held up as the example of what not to do. I'll be honest, given some of the over-the-top reviews from far left sources, that was a pleasant surprise.

* * *

I was very shocked that there was no mention of the Soul Stone in the film. It's the only one of the Infinity Stones unaccounted-for, and given that Avengers Infinity War comes out in three months, I figured there would be some mention of it to lead into that film. But nope. Nada.

I still think they'll tie it in with the vibranium meteor that is the source of Wakanda's wealth and technology, somehow. Like they'll discover the Soul Stone in the mine, and that will trigger Thanos' assault on Wakanda. But I'm genuinely surprised they didn't do it in an end-credits scene.

* * *

How about you? If you've seen the film, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


grodog said...

We saw it today too, Joe. The "Wise men build bridges but fools build walls." seemed pointed straight-on at Trump to me, but I'm not a Marvel expert by any means, so it could easily be grounded in the characters/setting, perhaps.

WRT other Marvel villians living beyond the credits scene, I can think of a few more, but you're spot-on with the general trend: Mordo survived Dr. Strange (but then, he wasn't Mordo quite a bad guy threat yet, either); a number of X-Men bad guys have lived to fight in future films, too (not just Magneto, but a number of his Brotherhood of Mutants henchmen); the Green Goblin (although he passed from father to son in the first Spiderman films, didn't he?).

All that said, this "killing off the villains during the film in which they're introduced" syndrom seems like a too-common trend in Hollywood films: Darth Maul, Belloq, Sebastian Shaw, etc., etc. Given the trend toward series- and multi-series-franchises, you'd think that they'd want to carve out some development for the villians too---that's one of the things that makes Magneto so memorable!


Joseph Bloch said...

Hi Allan.

The "fools build walls" line might well be aimed at Trump, but I think the overall message, which undercuts identity politics as a general rule and repudiates Killmonger's argument that "2 billion people that look like us are being oppressed" is the real message. It shouldn't matter whether or not someone "looks like us". We should "all be one tribe".

(To be honest, I thought the walls comment was directed at the former Wakandan policy of isolationism, but now that you mention it, that specific wording probably does have more real-world implications; I find that disappointing.)

And while that might be a message embraced by a few extremists on the right, it's something that the mainstream on the left has taken as axiomatic (look no further than the fact that white nationalists are repudiated and decried by both sides, but BLM and the New Black Panthers (!) are embraced by the left). In a world where the left says that being colorblind is in and of itself racist, I think that's a powerful refutation.

As for the villains, bear in mind that I was speaking specifically about the MCU, and not the Sony or Fox Marvel films. In the specific case of Mordo, he was most definitely not a villain, but was being turned into one for the next film. And yes, Green Goblin died in the first Spider Man film.

And frankly, I would have been happy to see one or two X-Men movies that didn't have Magneto. I know he's a major character in the comics, and Ian McKellan and Michael Fessbender did wonderful work bringing the character to life, but he doesn't have to be in every... single... movie. Like Wolverine. Give some other characters a chance to shine.