Opening night at Black Panther felt like a celebration. All six showings at my cinema were totally sold out that night, and continued to sell out through the weekend. But, yes, the audience was ecstatic, completely into the event, dressed in traditional African attire, laughing, cheering, applauding, hooting, and generally having a great time. It makes me want to give Black Panther a higher grade. There’s nothing like a good party.
My A- is still a very good grade. But I honestly preferred the recent Thor: Ragnarok and Spiderman: Homecoming…those were better plotted stories, tightly woven with better heroes and villains, more sprightly humor, and people I cared about. This movie (an origin story that suffers by introducing an entire NATION of new characters) moved along so quickly that I was often lost, and didn’t get to know much about anyone. The title character himself, with so much else this movie had to accomplish, had surprisingly little to say or do. The actual Black Panther had more action in Captain America: Civil War.
However, Black Panther is a spectacularly gorgeous film. The cinematography, location shots, the CGI, the total aesthetic appeal — all was topnotch. There was an epic feel to the proceedings, decent humor (mostly from the scene-stealing Princess Shuri), and standout female performances by the aforementioned Princess, the Queen, the Girlfriend, and the General. The women were the best part of the narrative.
Wait, of course, through the entire credits. This is a Marvel movie, after all. The final movie stinger provides a long-awaited payoff.
Updated Note: With Avengers: Infinity Wars coming out this week, and Black Panther STILL in theaters, this is the first time we’ve had two MCU movies playing at once! I might make my movie day a double feature…
Movie Grade: A-