Black Panther 3/5 Stars

I saw Black Panther over the weekend.  It’s a good comic book movie, but not as good as the hype would suggest.

One positive is it works as a stand alone movie.  It’s not just setting up the next Avengers or anything like that.

I thought the jokes were incredibly lame.  Marvel movies usually have mildly amusing humor.  Black Panther attempts that, but it really falls flat.  I’m having trouble remembering a specific one liner, but needless to say, I did not laugh once.

It’s not some hardcore anti-white movie.  In fact the plot is centered around a black villain wanting to steal the Black Panther’s advanced weaponry and give it to blacks around the world to use against their “oppressors” which would presumably include a lot of whites.  The hero, the Black Panther, fights to stop this.

There are only two white characters.  One is a bad guy who gets outsmarted and murdered by the black villain.  The other is a CIA agent and ally of the Black Panther.  I guess this is an important character from the comics so they felt compelled to insert him in this movie, but he really adds nothing.

There is also a debate about whether the Black Panther’s country, Wakanda, should allow in refugees (they currently don’t) or share its hidden technology with the rest of the world.  Interestingly the Black Panther makes some solid arguments about refugees “bringing their problems with them” and “threatening their way of life.”  I guess the audience is probably supposed to reject this way of thinking, but it’s not entirely clear.

The refugee issue never gets resolved, but after the villains are defeated, the Black Panther (who is also King of Wakanda) decides to open an outreach center in a poor black Oakland, CA neighborhood to share their scientific prowess peacefully.  I guess we’ll have to wait for the sequel to see how that plays out, but sounds like a bad idea to me.  Their science is based on their having access to some magical mineral called “vibranium” that no one else knows about.  So any outreach would mean giving outsiders access to this stuff which is almost certainly going to lead to its further weaponization by some villain in the sequel.

Anyway, worth checking out, but let’s not get carried away and pretend this is some epic masterpiece.

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