Black Panther is the last movie before Marvel's The Avengers final chapter, Infinity War. When I first heard they were making this movie, I honestly couldn't care. I was expecting just another Ant-Man movie, full of unnecessary and boring plot, styled in the generic Marvel style. But, what I wasn't expecting was something unique, something perfect in of itself. A movie that, without context, could possibly survive alone.
Possibly. Let's get started. (This Analysis WILL Contain Spoilers.)
The plot is this: After T'Challa's (Chadwick Boseman) father, King T'Chaka (John Kani), dies in a terrorist attack (seen in Captain America: Civil War), T'Challa must return to his country and become king. Some afro-funk stuff is blasted in your face and some unrealistic force-field technology is force-fed down your gullet.
T'Challa heard Klaue (Andy Serkis) had recently stolen some Vibranium (basically a metal that has magical properties) and was selling it to someone in South Korea. Klaue has stolen Vibranium from Wakanda back during T'Chaka's reign, so T'Challa wants revenge. It's a set-up, and this is where T'Challa finds out about his long-lost cousin.
This cousin, nicknamed Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), kills Klaue and flies some tiny plane from South Korea to Wakanda in one day, arriving at the edge of the hidden country with Klaue's body as a gift. At this point, no one else in Wakanda knows that there is a long-lost cousin to the throne.
Killmonger is taken to King T'Challa and Killmonger fights him for the throne, winning and "taking" T'Challa's life. Killmonger, as the new king, destroy's the garden of the Heart Shaped Herb, a special plant that grants the king the power of the Black Panther. Killmonger now possesses the power of the Black Panther and starts sending out Vibranium weapons to oppressed minorities all over the world so they can "kill their oppressors."
Meanwhile, in classic Marvel style, T'Challa is not actually dead, and it is hidden in one of the many kingdoms in Wakanda. He is brought back to strength, given his suit, and then goes back to stop Killmonger. Some more CGI fighting, some Ex-machinas come into play, and Killmonger get's killed, staring out into the sunset. Some FBI agent that I have no emotional connection too stops the Vibranium weapons from crossing the border by blowing them up.
So here's the first thing about Black Panther that sucks. The plot isn't good, and it isn't bad. There are multiple aspects, but the thing about the plot that was inexcusable was the terrible fight scene at the end that dragged on and on, and during the middle of the fight you beg for the fighting to stop because they really solve nothing from it.
The second thing about Black Panther's plot is that they introduce these cool spiritual planes and amazing technology, and spend NONE of the movie expanding on them! I wanted more scenes from the Spirit Realm, more scenes in the CITY of Wakanda! But we got at the most three scenes in the whole movie in the city of Wakanda. There should have been more, it was super cool.
Another thing with the movie plot, which is a bit of a personal opinion, is they should have brought more of the REAL struggle for Blacks in urban areas, like Chicago or Compton, into the light. They wanted to tackle impersonal and distant issues to the average viewer. I am not saying that the political agenda and ideas of the movie were bad, nor am I saying I agree with them, but what I'm saying is that, well, the problem of Immigration doesn't affect the average viewer on a personal level. For a movie whose main political agenda was the problem of the treatment of Blacks and other minorities, they should have gotten much more personal. It felt distant from the real issues--far from what they were going for.
The soundtrack of Black Panther, which featured Kendrick Lamar on many of the tracks, and the composition done by Ludwig Goransson, was immaculate. The perfect blend of modern hip-hop and traditional African roots made the soundtrack rattling and powerful. You will find no other soundtrack much like this one, with a heavy emphasis on traditional African drums and percussion, and African singing.
The story was also told through the music as well. As Killmonger took more hold in the movie and began changing Wakanda, the music changed as well. The more he influenced the country to take more steps toward radical foreign aid, more and more hip-hop influences came into the music, like heavy-hitting bass and high hats that splice the movie theatre atmosphere. But, as Killmonger stares into the sunset, dying of his wounds, that traditional African singing is back and is a good way to end the movie.
The visuals of this movie aren't as stunning as I would have wanted. You have pretty scenes of African culture, but only in Wakanda. But, in general, the movie just looked like a Marvel movie does. Bleak and dark scenes when the main CGI fights were going on and then boring scenes of action and conversation.
The costume design is another story. Ruth E. Carter did an excellent job designing stunning and diverse African costumes, everything from the design of the Dora Milaje to the broad costumes worn by Wakandan citizens in the sparse scenes where you can see Wakandans other than the Dora Milafe, Black Panther, or his close family.
HOW IT FITS THE MARVEL STORY:
If you're watching this movie to prepare for Infinity War, then you are not alone. I only saw it so I would be prepared for Infinity War. The amazing box-office on this movie (which at the time of writing this is $1.079 Billion, making it the fifth Marvel movie to gross $1 billion) is just the before-shock of Infinity War, which I predict will gross upwards of $1.5 Billion. So, if you are expecting some grand preparation for Infinity War... you will be disappointed.
This is NOT a movie to prepare YOU for Infinity War, but rather a movie to explain Wakanda so you will not be lost during the battle for Wakanda in Infinity War. There is no discussion of Infinity Stones, Thanos, heck, they never even discuss other super-heroes or SHEILD or anything! This movie is just so you won't be lost when Thanos goes to attain Vibranium from Wakanda.
The movie IS A STANDALONE MOVIE! Don't go see it expecting it to be some grand setup for Infinity War. Go and see it because, just in general, it's a fun movie! If it were never made and Wakanda was explained a little more in detail during Infinity War, that would be fine. Because in all honesty, there was no need, in the Marvel Universe, for this movie. It fills no needs. It's just a movie to bring up civil and social topics that we DO need to talk about and solve.
How it fits into Marvel Universe: 2/5
Overall, I give this movie a 3.25/5. But maybe this will change with time and with the release of Infinity War in April.