Tag Archives: Marvel

Black Panther Review


Warning: This post is political. This movie is political. If that bothers you, feel free to say so or go quietly away. No name calling will be tolerated.

Black Panther is spectacular. That is the gist of my assessment.

As a white woman, I feel very ill-equipped to talk about how many boundaries this film breaks and why; my personal experience with racism is limited or non-existent, and it’s small potatoes. Like, one lady at a restaurant being rude to me because she didn’t like white people…probably.  Outside myself, I only know what I have heard and seen from others, and it’s not very much even then.

I don’t want to diminish the suffering of others by pretending I know exactly what it’s like. I can only say that I hope that more films like this get made (both politically and with diverse casts), and I can tell you what I personally thought after seeing Black Panther in the theatre on Friday, February 16th.

I like this film because it runs on a smaller scale than some of Marvel’s other fare. I may have said this before, but there is only so big you can go with universe-threatening villains before it begins to feel silly, or the previous movie villains look like tinker toys in comparison. Do kids these days still know tinker toys?


Regardless, there’s a concept called “Power Creep,” in which the constant need to one-up the last villain or super power makes earlier movies and series less awe-inspiring, and therefore they won’t hold up in future viewings.

I like that the cast doesn’t look like me. Really, I do. I don’t have an issue relating to someone with another background or skin color than me, maybe because I tend to focus more on common human experiences that we all share. I like films that try to capture those more universal topics, and people’s differences make them unique and fascinating, keeping them from being too same-y. They also provide a good learning experience, which I was told from a young age to pursue and value, even if it’s – God forbid – “outside of the textbook!”

I thought I might mention it, if only because some people can’t seem to acknowledge and relate to someone else’s basic humanity when too many differences stand in their way. Personally, I think that perspective is depressing and limiting, and in this case, they’re missing out on a great movie because of it. But c’est la vie.

I like that Black Panther is political. It really couldn’t avoid being so, from the race side of things, and I’m glad it didn’t shy away for fear of turning off the Caucasian audience.  People who complain that movies, celebrities, athletes, and other “entertainers” shouldn’t be pushing politics onto their audience are usually in a position where they can comfortably walk away from the discussion at any point, and they get annoyed when someone makes it harder for them to do so. They don’t want to accept that person’s individuality as part of their whole package; they just want a show, damn it! Why is it coming with extras that they didn’t order?

Because other people cannot escape having these discussions. Their lives and families are affected every day, and they can’t just walk away. It’s called systemic oppression for a reason; it’s so ingrained in our society that we on top don’t think much of it and don’t have to, because we benefit. We, whether by direct actions or passive complacency, force others down so that we can be raised up, and that’s not right.

That is part of the human experience I mentioned previously; just because I haven’t personally experienced things like racism, slavery, and families being torn apart, it doesn’t mean that those topics can’t resonate with me. I am an ignorant outsider, but I care.


I like the story in Black Panther. In short, and sans major spoilers, Prince T’Challa returns from the events of Captain America Civil War to assume his place as the king of Wakanda. Wakanda hides its technological advances from the world by posing as a third-world country, and there is friction among many citizens, whether to reveal their country’s true nature or to keep it safe and secluded, despite constant threats of theft and potential discovery anyway. They owe their success to an alien metal called Vibranium, and the Black Panther’s powers to a heart-shaped plant that was effected by the coming of said metal.

The film’s politics come from that above-mentioned tension: will Wakanda reveal itself, and if so, could it become a haven for other African countries and peoples around the world? It’s an empowering narrative, and not just because it’s a superhero movie.

I like the costume design. I’m mostly ignorant of African cultures (I’m sorry. Japan came into my heart first), but I can see how much effort was put into every piece of clothing worn in Black Panther. The fighting outfits are distinctive and visually interesting, but still practical, especially for the women. That’s rare. *cough* Wonder Woman *cough cough*

That’s another thing: I love how many prominent women are in this story. I also liked pretty much all of them as characters, even if I forgot one or two names during the course of the movie (just for perspective, I forgot Martin Freeman’s character’s name at some point too, and simply started mentally referring to him as “Secret Agent Watson.”

Some people might find this politically charged as well, having so many women in the cast, and so many of them kicking ass. I invite them to go suck their thumbs and sit in the corner. The girls on screen can hold a scene just as well as any guy. Get over it.


Much like The Last Jedi, there seems to be a theme about your mentors disappointing you, leading you to one day surpass them. You may also have to clean up the mess that their pride, fear, or hubris has left behind. This is becoming a common refrain in movies and television recently, particularly revolving around male characters and their pride as men. Personally, I agree with those messages, as I think that valuing pride and hypermasculinity over being a secure, healthy person with a good understanding and control over their emotions is a problem that affects all kinds of men in modern society. Depending on how those feelings manifest, it can also affect their partners and other family and friends that surround them, so I like seeing more of these stories becoming popular.

Again, there’s a human experience to be found there, and the smaller threat makes the story feel more personal and relatable. I actually felt bad for the villain in the end, because he had clearly gone through so much pain to become the way that he was.

Black Panther will speak to different people in different ways, but some of the takeaways aren’t that far off from each other. I didn’t feel alienated or preached at when I saw this film; I felt enthralled and spoken to, in a perfectly frank and engaging manner. I’m happy to see that the opening weekend proved so profitable, and I hope more directors will tell these kinds of stories, and many more, in the future. After all, the population is always changing, and the “small voices” are growing too loud, too numerous, to be ignored.



Note: All images in this review belong to Marvel and Disney.


Guardians of the Galaxy 2: Even Better than the First

Two major spoilers below. Be warned. 

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 fixes a lot of issues I had with the first movie. Now that the origin story is out of the way, we can focus more on character development for more of the characters.

I like that Gamora has more to do beyond being the pretty tsundere arm candy for Peter, and that the nature of her relationship with Nebula is more fleshed out. I like that Nebula herself is made more “human,” giving a better explanation for her cold exterior and her desire for vengeance against both Gamora and Thanos. I like that Rocket has to come to terms with being a raging asshole. I even like that Yondu, a character that I barely registered or cared about in Movie 1, got a backstory that was just shallow enough to not take up too much time, but just deep enough that I actually really started to like him, and I actually cried when he sacrificed himself in the end.

I even like that the aliens look by-and-large more convincing this time around. They seem a lot less like humans in cheap body paint, because now they have expense-looking body paint. Probably a bigger budget for smaller-scale CG effects.


The only thing I like better about Guardians of the Galaxy (the first one) is the oldies playlist. This time around, it wasn’t quite as catchy and epic, but it was still pretty good. The regular soundtrack fit the scenes they were set to…I know that seems pretty basic and obvious, but is actually more commonly screwed up than you would think. It’s less deserving of special mention and more like showing up to work on time every day; expected, but appreciated, especially when others around you don’t do so.

Most of the jokes seem to come from Drax and his usual lacking comprehension of nuance and tact, but they always hit home runs. I can’t think of a single joke in the movie that fell flat or otherwise went unnoticed, and it was all-around a good time at the movies. It’s still not the deepest masterpiece of storytelling, of course (the villain’s name is Ego, for Pete’s sake!), but it’s good fun that doesn’t spend a lot of time talking down to its audience, and I really appreciate that. I like not having to go in expecting high art, but neither expecting cheap, boring, or insulting crap, and I walk away perfectly satisfied. It’s almost like watching a more serious Deadpool, which is great as long as the comedy and dramatic tones aren’t constantly at odds with each other.

Go see it. It’s really fun.



*None of the images in this post belong to me. 





Ryan Reynolds plays Wade Wilson, a mercenary for hire whose cells are mutated so that he can regenerate any body part he loses. He was a bit of a weirdo before, but the treatment to mutate his cells messed him up in the head, making him a deadly opponent with a deadly sense of humor.

In a smaller than your usual “save the world from some cataclysmic event” superhero story, Wade has to save his girlfriend from a fellow mutant with a vendetta against him.

I might have mentioned that superhero stories have never really been my genre of interest, but even I got excited when it was announced that there would be a Deadpool movie. All I knew about him was that he was a comedic antihero who breaks the laws of space, time, and the fourth wall, but that was enough to hype me up.



Random and in-joke humor doesn’t taste the same for everyone, but since the advent of widespread internet access, it has become increasingly popular with my generation. I somewhat disagree with Mr. Doug Walker in his assertion that comedy is almost entirely based on misery, because otherwise, how could such jokes get a laugh from anyone? Saying the word “waffles” doesn’t hurt anyone, except maybe by annoyance. And it isn’t only the reaction that gets a laugh out of the audience.

I would amend the assertion like this: comedy is about misery and upsetting expectations. Sometimes one results from the other.

Take the classic falling piano gag; a piano falls from an apartment’s kitchen window several stories up, and it looks like it’s on a collision course with a cartoon character below. That would be pretty funny if it hit them, but imagine if at the last minute, a police officer shoos the person away for loitering, stands in their exact spot, and gets hit just after he looks up?

Would that be funnier? You expected the pie to hit the first guy, anticipated getting a good laugh from that, and then it ends up hitting another guy instead. Whoever gets hit will be funny as long as they react in a way that suggests disgust or misery, but both types of humor can work and they can go hand in hand to make a funny joke funnier.



When Deadpool is beating up badies in the car and it starts to flip, he slows down time to do this. You can argue that this is funny for a number of reasons, like the fact that it’s interupting a violent fight. Anyone who may be unfamiliar with Deadpool will be wondering a) how he can stop time, and b) what is so important that he feels the need to stop the fight to say it? For those who do know Deadpool, they’re just waiting for him to say something crazy, because he’s a hilarious badass who says exactly what he means, unfazed and uncaring about decency or even the laws of physics. He’s not a part of your system, man!

Is it juvenile? Hell yes, but here is the difference betwee n Deadpool and the Seltzerberg “parody” films: Deadpool is the only one doing it. He has an endless parade of normal people who can react to his antics, which appeals to both the 13 year old boy and the growing adult inside.

In that sense, Deadpool is closer to Borat comedy than Seltzerberg comedy, which is all about cramming as much gross out and out-of-place references to as many more popular movies as possible, with no thought of structure or coherence.

Gross out, like a jump scare or a well-placed pie to the face, is best when used sparringly, because, again, it messes with expectations. Most people do not like to be extensively grossed out because disgust is in place to keep us away from things that are poisionous or unhealthy. Deadpool uses gross out occasionally because it messes with his enemies and his audience, and while it is in line with his established character, he doesn’t beat it into the ground.

Or, at the very least, he varies it.



Deadpool is a nice bridge between predictably crazy and crazily unpredictable; you know he’s going to do or say something weird, but it’s not always the same brand of weird. It’s random humor, but also self-aware humor, because he makes cracks at superhero and general movie cliches.

If sex jokes and violence make you uncomfortable, don’t watch this movie. This is not a wholesome adventure for the entire family to enjoy. It’s also not timeless in any sense of the word; hopefully, people in the future will never know who Mama June is, let alone picture what she looks like after an intense round of yoga. But it’s a fun break from the seriousness of world-ending superhero stories, even ones with wise-crackers like Ant Man and Iron Man.

Though I don’t know how Deadpool will do if he has to share significant screentime with another character or set of heroes (more prominent than the ones that appeared in his movie). I guess we’ll just have to see.



Gleefully perverse and brimming with energy, Deadpool is a welcome and fresh addition to the Marvel cinematic universe.



*All media used in this review belongs to Marvel and Disney.