The first reviews for Marvel's Black Panther are now online. The upcoming superhero film is not only one of the most anticipated comic book movies of the year but of all-time as well - and it's been a long time coming. Marvel Studios reacquired the Black Panther movie rights in 2005, but it's taken them 13 years to get it onto the big screen.
Black Panther - directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed) and starring Chadwick Boseman (Marshall) as the eponymous character - marks the 18th installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And yet, despite being stuck in development hell for so many years and coming 10 years after Marvel Studios launched the MCU, Black Panther's early social media reactions prove that the acclaimed film studio can still churn out top-tier productions after all this time. That's something that the film's first batch of reviews agree with.
Black Panther's review embargo lifted this morning, and the first reviews are now online. We've compiled a selection of SPOILER-FREE excerpts below. Readers can click the links back to the original sources to read the full reviews.
Variety - Peter Debruge - No score
“Black Panther” is a radically different kind of comic-book movie, one with a proud Afrocentric twist, featuring a nearly all-black cast, that largely ignores the United States and focuses instead on the fictional nation of Wakanda — and guess what: Virtually everything that distinguishes “Black Panther” from past Marvel pics works to this standalone entry’s advantage.
The Wrap - Alonso Duralde - No score
But when “Black Panther” works, it’s thrillingly alive, whether it’s the dazzling colors of the vivid costumes by Ruth E. Carter (“Selma”) — in Wakanda, the Basotho blankets emit force-fields — or the eclectic and vibrant music choices; the score by Ludwig Göransson (“Get Out”) vacillates smoothly between European strings and African percussion and woodwinds, while the songs put Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd side by side with South African performers like Babes Wodumo and Sjava.
THR - Todd McCarthy - No score
With uncanny timing, Marvel takes its superheroes into a domain they've never inhabited before and is all the better for it in Black Panther. There's no mistaking you're still in the Marvel universe here, but this entry sweeps you off to a part of it you've never seen, a hidden lost world in Africa defined by royal traditions and technological wonders that open up refreshing new dramatic, visual and casting possibilities. Getting it right where other studios and franchises — they know who they are — get it wrong, Marvel and Disney have another commercial leviathan here, although it will be interesting to see how it plays in certain overseas markets, where industry traditionalists say black-dominated fare sometimes under-performs.
IGN - Jim Vejvoda - 9/10
Black Panther delivers the goods as an adventure film, a political statement, and a cultural celebration. It shakes off a sluggish start thanks to a memorable cast of characters going up against Marvel’s best-realized villain in almost a decade. Some of the vibrance is drained by cartoonish visual effects that endanger the very human feel of the story, but the emotional weight of its themes and the cast’s compelling performances ultimately keep the film on track. Overall Black Panther is an exciting step forward for the MCU. Long live the king!
EW - Leah Greenblatt - A-
Coogler’s filmmaking isn’t flawless. The CG backdrops veer into screensaver territory, and the battle scenes are often shot in turbulent closeup; the last 30 minutes are so frenetic it feels like there are defibrillator pads sewn into the theater seats. But he infuses nearly every frame with soul and style, and makes the radical case that a comic-book movie can actually have something meaningful — beyond boom or kapow or America — to say. In that context, Panther’s nuanced celebration of pride and identity and personal responsibility doesn’t just feel like a fresh direction for the genre, it’s the movie’s own true superpower.
Collider - Haleigh Foutch - A-
Black Panther is Marvel’s boldest movie yet, and fortunately, it’s also one of its best. As a studio, Marvel has thrived by redefining the constructs of serialized cinematic storytelling, honoring the comic book characters fans love, and allowing filmmakers to put their singular stamp on the material. Back Panther checks all those marks, but it’s also allowed to be more insular than the average Marvel movie; a decision that proves not just beneficial, but essential when you realize the full weight of the story it wants to tell. Because Black Panther isn’t just a crowd-pleasing superhero movie (though it is that for sure), it’s a vital moment in cinema history and a heartfelt, thoughtful exploration of the scars of colonialism and the hope for healing.
Empire - Jimi Famurewa - 4/5
Like Taika Waititi before him, Ryan Coogler gives the Marvel template a bold auteurist twist with an African extravaganza that packs a muscular intensity and challenges as much as it exhilarates.
Polygon - Joelle Monique - No score
Black Panther is the best Marvel film thus far. Aside from the incredible representation and the gorgeous visuals, the story is terrific. I have never cared for a villain the way I care for Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger. Standing with feet shoulder width apart, he always has his hands clasped in front of him, and he never looks at anyone straight on unless he intends to end them. Killmonger is as attractive as he is intimidating. But Jordan wasn’t hired for just his sex appeal. That sharp eye and wounded heart shine through a tough exterior to illuminate a real human being. He is the crown jewel of an incredibly wealthy project.
Critics are praising Black Panther as one of the best MCU films yet, with many going on to say that the film's cast is what makes the movie special. However, some critics point out that Black Panther is still a comic book movie, one that's filled with lots of actions, explosions, and occasional cases of some horrible, "screensaver-like" CGI. Then again, those grievances are almost standard for comic book movies these days. And the action isn't the only thing that's going to be drawing hordes of people to theaters to see Black Panther, which is why the film has already surpassed all ticket presale records and is projected to top Deadpool's February opening record.
Given the reviews and the hype surrounding Black Panther, it's safe to say that Marvel has another win on their hands. Perhaps this means that audiences can expect Black Panther 2 sometime during Phase 4?
Source: Various (see links)
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