Review of The roars of ‘Black Panther’ awaken the Marvel universe

This movie is a selection of the criticism of The New York Times.

Black Panther creates technical wonders with great style and manages to be part of a myth, something increasingly rare in current movies.

Most of the major film productions offer a joyful experience that usually ends in the same story as always, these are plots that only seek to expand the franchise. But that does not happen in this movie.

Its starting point is the fantastic nation of Wakanda, an African Eden that is also the legendary El Dorado where green landscapes meet the blue sky of science fiction. It is a land where spaceships-with landing strips similar to tribal masks-rise over majestic waterfalls as a story unfolds that goes way beyond what a franchise or brand dictates.

Wakanda is the home of the Black Panther, the alias of T’Challa(character played by Chadwick Boseman), the latest Marvel hero who jumps from the pages of the comics to his own movie.

Created in 1966 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Black Panther – a feline hero wearing a slender suit with claws and ears – debuted with the Fantastic Four in an adventure located in Wakanda, a fabulous place that works thanks to the power of the vibranium , a mysterious metal.

It was an exciting start (besides being very opportune because the American revolutionary group of the same name was officially formed that year) and at the end of their first adventure, the fantastic ones assured T’Challa that “there are no reasons why the race of Black Panther comes to an end. ”

In the following decades, Black Panther has experienced various alterations of costumes and adventures in comics, some with the direction of filmmaker Reginald Hudlin and, more recently, with the participation of the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates .

To direct the first panther film, Marvel chose Ryan Coogler, who with Creed updated the Rocky series by creating a black boxing champion that was played by Michael B. Jordan.

For Black Panther , Coogler went back to working with Jordan and other members of his previous teams such as Rachel Morrison , director of photography at her debut film, Fruitvale Station . The continuity of his collaborators may explain the intimacy and fluidity of this film.

As with all the Marvel film adventures, the story has many parts and moments, but the end result is outside the traditional record of superheroes extremely busy saving the world with trivial plots.

Written by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, Black Panther tells T’Challa’s story to the present-with some glances at the past and the future possibilities of the character-while making concessions for the appearance of other warriors from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Panther Negra already appeared in the gray movie Captain America: Civil War ).

The film also establishes with a touch perhaps too light to Wakanda as a militaristic monarchy that, however, is fair and democratic. Initially, the story features Ulysses Klaue, a typical cartoonish villain played by Andy Serkis (who seems to have had a great time during the shoot).

It all starts with this arms dealer of the underworld, full of Afrikaans sarcasm and accompanied by an armed horde that includes Erik Killmonger (played by Jordan).

The evil of this band attracts the attention of the Black Panther and an international lawmaker, the friendly agent of the CIA played by Martin Freeman, whose status as the white good boy is a reminder that this production maintains some of the dubious conventions from Hollywood.

For a while, the plot and its protagonist go from here to there, jumping from Wakanda to Busan, South Korea, as if the filmmakers were doing a James Bond remix with a touch of Spider-Man antics. We even see the hero in a casino where, a short time later, a kind of choreographic chaos breaks out – with legs and dresses that spin through the air – but he manages to take off the plot.

There is also the inevitable chaotic chaos that makes Busan the setting for a video game and, unfortunately, in a car commercial, an atrocious sequence that improves a little because of the fun fact that who puts his foot on the accelerator is a warrior woman .

Touches like these (as well as a wig that ends up flying gracefully and the appearance of rampant rhinos) and Wakanda as a backdrop give a certain realism to the action scenes, although Coogler’s strengths as a director are more intimate.

There are sequences that come to move to tears for their visual treatment and dialogues, but also for the sensitivity that is displayed on the screen.

Coogler was smart in choosing the stories he decided to highlight, so before Serkis can steal too many scenes, the director focuses on Killmonger and directs the film in another direction, away from the white villain who mistreats black people and focuses on how the citizens of that imaginary land live their lives.

Part of the pleasure of the film and its ethos , which is manifested throughout the visual proposal, is the way it dispenses with traditional conventions such as “or is this or is that” and the binary form that shapes our discourse on race.

Life in Wakanda is urban and rural, futuristic and traditional, technological and mystical; all that at the same time. The spacecraft approach the towering buildings with thatched roofs; a stationary train passes over a market with woven baskets.

In one of the most striking scenarios, an outdoor throne room is horizontally aligned with branches of trees, creating a pattern that deliberately blurs the gap between the inner and outer world and that is repeated in the design of clothing and other elements.

That rejection of the binary division is evident in the character of Killmonger, whose story, with much emotional charge, gives more friction and weight in terms of real life than any of the other major productions of Marvel.

Like many adventures of the type, Black Panther resorts to a drama of father and son – with a murder of by means, a power vacuum and an heir that is not sure if to accept the command – and a intrigue of paternal line full of confrontations and confrontations about inheritance, identity, the diaspora outside of Africa, the new world and the old world.

A part of the particularly moving plot involves actor Sterling K. Brown, impressively sensitive and vibrantly fearful in his role; in his appearance he manages to transmit whole chapters of sorrow.

Jordan also highlights; he has an incredibly charismatic presence that even makes you wonder what the movie would be like if he played the Black Panther.

Boseman is magnetic in a way that catches you on a slow fire and his performance is more contained than Jordan’s, even more deliberate, although he also has flashy and easy-going moments, especially when there is hand-to-hand combat.(The fight is very popular in Wakanda: there are several very sexy matches with bare skin and visible muscles).

Like other Wakandans, the Panther speaks in an English with a South African touch, an accent that evokes Nelson Mandela and suggests that T’Challa is close to assuming a role as an international diplomat.

For the political vision of the film – and for the construction of the myth – it is important that the protagonist appears surrounded by a phalanx of women, including a battalion of warriors called Dora Milaje. It’s not about the hard bicep girls and physical abilities that abound in movies but that, in the end, are not real characters.

For all the problems she had with her father, T’Challa is surrounded by women who offer her maternal, military, fraternal and scientific support. A warrior (Danai Gurira) commands her army; his little sister (the vivacious Letitia Wright) provides him gadgets and Bond devices.

Angela Bassett plays her mother, while Lupita Nyong’o, as a spy, takes on a special role that could generate her own film.

Filled with wonderful women and Afrofuturist scenarios, Wakanda in itself manages to become the film’s greatest strength: it is her war cry and defines the whole spirit of the project. At first, a white man describes her in a dismissive way as “a third world country: textiles, shepherds, beautiful clothes”.

Part of the joke, which the film powerfully ingeniously, is that Wakanda certainly fits that profile, with the caveat that his pastors patrol the border with technological magic and that their textiles and costumes dazzle the vibranium .

In addition, since it was never conquered, Wakanda does not suffer the historical traumas of much of the rest of Africa. It is a territory free from the ravages of colonialism and postcolonialism.

Race is very important in Black Panther , but not in the Manichean terms of good and bad, but as a means to explore the great human concerns about the past, the present and the abuses of power. Only that aspect makes that, unlike many conventional films, is more reflective about how the world works, although these ideas appear interspersed with many elements of comics.

It would not be a Marvel production without manly fights and digital avatars. However, in its emphasis on showing the imagination, creation and liberation of the black race, the film becomes the emblem of a past that was denied and a future that feels very present. And, in doing so, he opens his world and ours in a beautiful way.

 

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