Black Panther Review Roundup: What Are Critics Saying About Marvel's New Movie?
The time has finally come. The reviews for the next installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are out. Black Panther won't be in theaters until February 16, but critics are sharing their thoughts about the movie and, so far, it's very good news.
The film, which follows King T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) in the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, has been met with unanimous praise by critics thus far. Reviews are touting everything from its visual design, to its representation of race and gender, to its soundtrack. Thankfully, it seems as though the story and characters explored in the movie are also well-received--save for some minor criticism of T'Challa, himself.
- Movie: Black Panther
- Studio: Marvel
- Release date: February 16
"[Wakanda] pulses and thrives, colors and structures simultaneously informed by African heritage and an alienness granted by vibranium technology. The original songs by Kendrick Lamar fit perfectly, lending each scene both modernity and an added sense of history. And the characters who live there easily cement themselves in this movie as some of the most fully fleshed out in the whole MCU." -- Michael Rougeau [Full review]
The New York Times
"Race matters in Black Panther and it matters deeply, not in terms of Manichaean good guys and bad but as a means to explore larger human concerns about the past, the present and the uses and abuses of power. That alone makes it more thoughtful about how the world works than a lot of mainstream movies, even if those ideas are interspersed with plenty of comic-book posturing. It wouldn't be a Marvel production without manly skirmishes and digital avatars. Yet in its emphasis on black imagination, creation and liberation, the movie becomes an emblem of a past that was denied and a future that feels very present. And in doing so opens up its world, and yours, beautifully." -- Manohla Dargis [Full review]
"The film does deal head-on with issues of race, subjugation, and oppression in ways both heartbreaking and hilarious. At one point, a young black boy in a rundown apartment in Oakland, California ([director Ryan] Coogler's hometown), dismisses the idea of Wakanda itself: What good is “a kid in Oakland, running around believing in fairy tales”? Coogler answers that question with the film itself: Here is a fairy tale for children who rarely get them, and never like this." -- Marc Bernardin [Full review]
"For a film that touches on so many very real and very serious topics, you might expect Black Panther to be an entirely solemn affair. Some parts are, but it's also an entertaining adventure film about an action hero with awesome gadgets and a super-suit, a fun film with many laugh-out-loud moments, and a gorgeous movie with a distinctive visual style that can't be mistaken for any other big-budget movie. It's a testament to director/co-writer Ryan Coogler's skill that he juggles all these elements without his film ending up tonally inconsistent." -- Jim Vejvoda [Full review]
"This movie is a game-changer, and for all the valid critiques you can throw at Marvel, the studio deserves credit for bankrolling Coogler's fearless vision. You have to go back to 1998, back to Blade and Wesley Snipes for the last time Hollywood launched a superhero franchise led by a hero of color. Since then, there's been Catwoman (oof) and supporting roles. Never in our lifetime has there been a superhero blockbuster so intently invested in the black experience, in the importance of identity and heritage, and the tragedy of being denied those things. " -- Haleigh Foutch [Full review]
"Truth be told, T'Challa is kind of a bore, even if the movie that surrounds him seldom fails to thrill: He's prince of a utopian city with little interest in the fate of the world beyond his borders--until his father, King T'Chaka (John Kani), is assassinated during a bombing at the Vienna International Centre (a flashback to Captain America: Civil War). Though the Black Panther who made his impressive, hyper-acrobatic debut in that film is one and the same as the character seen here, Coogler humanizes him to such a degree that T'Challa doesn't feel like a superhero so much as a deeply conflicted world leader — albeit one who must defend his title via brutal hand-to-hand bloodmatches (in a ritual that suggests a considerably more primordial, and decidedly anti-democratic, form of governance)." -- Peter Deburge [Full review]
"If you're thinking you're in for another macho power trip, forget it. The women are more than a match for the men in this game, from the iconic Angela Bassett as Ramonda, T'Challa's widowed mother, to the ready-to-rumble Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia, T'Challa's ex-love and a spy for Wakanda in the outside world. And wait until you see the dynamite Danai Gurira--Michonne on The Walking Dead--fire on all cylinders as Okoye, head of Wakanda's all-female Special Forces known as the Dora Milaje. Her head shaved, her eyes beaming likes lasers and her weapons at the ready, she is the living definition of fierce. And there's no beating the smarts and sass of the wonderous Letitia Wright, who brings scene-stealing to the level of grand larceny as Princess Shuri, T'Challa's kid sister." -- Peter Travers [Full review]
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