Film Column: 'Black Panther' a visually striking filmBy Parker Aniszewski | 02/21/2018 9:15am
Photo courtesy of Rottentomatoes.com
Marvel can do no wrong. We are coming up on the 10 year anniversary of when the original “Iron Man“ was released, kicking off the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and changing the ways studios viewed shared universes. Ten years later, and Marvel is still king when it comes to the connected universes, at least in film. The newest film from the studio, “Black Panther,” just hit theaters around the world; does it reach the levels of an original “Iron Man,” or does it stumble like “Iron Man 2”?
I’m glad to say this is one of the better Marvel movies in the past few years, but not for the reasons you’d expect. The story is nothing revolutionary or mind-blowing. It’s actually fairly predictable and paint-by-number. However, the simplicity of this film allows the best parts of the film to really shine: the character designs, artistic style and soundtrack. The art style was my absolute favorite part of this film.The “Afrofuturism” look this movie strives for is visually striking. The wardrobe of the characters is unique, opting for traditional African patterns and themes with a mix of modern day styles to contrast.
Speaking of modern day, one of the characters is from America, so whenever he is on screen, the score starts very traditionally. Then instead of using normal score drums, they use more hip-hop style percussion. This idea adds just the right amount of originality and spontaneity – taking something so simple yet unexpected and putting an urban spin on it adds to the impact. It’s incredibly refreshing to see a Marvel film take a chance with their design, which helps this movie stand out in the catalogue of nearly twenty films with far too similar story structures.
To me, there are two standout people from this film: Michael B. Jordan as the villain Erik Killmonger, and director Ryan Coogler. Michael B. Jordan gives easily the best villain turn in any Marvel movie, giving a truly terrifying performance that has more layers than any villain in the MCU. He steals the show in every scene he's in. When I heard that Ryan Coogler directed this movie, I knew right away this movie would be good. Coogler’s last two films, “Creed” and “Fruitvale Station” are incredible films, and Coogler brings his stellar direction to this film. There are some of the prettiest shots I have seen from a comic book movie in this film, ripped straight from the comics.
From the start of the film, I was able to guess the story of the film nearly beat by beat. This isn’t really an issue with the film, but more an issue with the Marvel structure that most of Marvel’s origin stories follow. This film is far from perfect, however it features an excellent villain, great direction, insanely unique and interesting art design and music that helps fill in the gaps the story leaves. This is one of the better MCU films, one that I highly recommend every comics fan sees.