Panther on The Prowl

I wanted to give The Black Panther a little distance before I delved into it head first, like practically every other Marvel movie I’ve ever seen. This was something a little different in terms of it’s pre-release popularity, cast complexion and general scope of the film itself.  But, alas, I caved.  There I was a week after the opening slapping down money for two tickets for my date and myself. I was actually somewhat surprised. You see, being from an old school I remember the days when The Black Panther was a new concept in comicbooks. Sure, we had the super powered, indestructible Luke Cage-known as Power Man way, way back when-and a brown hued hero here or there in the DC universe as well. But in those days the Panther was considered a D-level character, at best.  Here’s what I mean; sure, he was a black man, but there was no real thrust to the character. He wore black, dressed like a night creature and was very agile and intelligent. Well, sure, but Batman plays that off as well, right?  Where was the meat? The hook to keep you vested in the character himself beyond his costume and abilities? In truth, Bruce Wayne is equally as interesting as his alter ego, for many reasons.  But the Panther lacked this, in my eyes at least. And as an Avenger he honestly added little to the group as a whole.  How could they possibly make him interesting enough to invest millions of dollars as a full blown, modern day feature film?  And there’s the rub, as Shakespeare would say; “modern day”.

Today’s Black Panther is a culmination of technology, amazing wealth, advanced, unparalleled science. In short, he’s James Bond meets Ironman. Some combo that is. What once was a bland character is now a bonafide, A-list, top flight Marvel heavyweight in his own regard. He’s prodigious as a team member or off on his own adventure. And this was long over due, again, in my opinion.  Today’s Black Panther, king of the secluded and advanced land of Wakanda and played by Chadwick Boseman, has an entire suit made of a highly advanced combination of metal and sound called Vibranium.  His sister is Q to his Bond, a genius at science and the creative process behind all the Panther’s gadgets and hardware. It has to be seen to be appreciated, because no amount of pretty words on page can do this terrific movie enough justice.  A well crafted script embodied by a top notch cast that totally delivers on every line, in every scene. Amazing what a great production can do for the movie business.

There was nothing spared for anyone who appreciates this kind of film; action aplenty, fights galore, incredible car chases and, fortunately, thank the high Heavens a ‘real’ and well characterized ‘villain’-if you will-played brilliantly by the awesomely talented Michael B. Jordan, whose own agenda and perspective are not as villainous as you’d think, depending on your own point of view.  A big part of the movies theme is morality.  There are two very strong instances here where a choice made does and can have a hard trickle down affect.  What does one man owe another.  What is one countries obligation to another, or a man to his own family.  This film wasn’t just slapped together haphazardly just to be thrown into the Marvel cannon. It leaves you pondering very deep thoughts.

I went in somewhat jaded by all of the hype, not wanting to get my hopes too high. My hopes were exceeded glad to say.  For those who thought that there may be a little Caucasian alienation let me assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. The seventies gave us a plethora of Blaxploitation heroes and anti-heroes. Brothers from another mother, so to speak.  But if the “we are all one” message never resonated soundly before, it does here.  Power to the Panther.