Tag Archives: Black Panther

Black Panther Makes the MCU a Deeper, Richer Place

Black Panther
doesn’t have the aura of a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. Yes, it features allies and enemies we’ve met in prior outings like Age of Ultron and Civil War. Yes, it has a jovial vibe throughout its cast that buoys heavier moments. And yes, it has the mandatory, climactic third act battle, draped in CGI and stuffed with the usual fanfare.

But Black Panther also stands apart from the rest of Marvel’s offerings on the silver screen. It is unabashedly Afrocentric in its focus and in its approach. It is a forthrightly political film, meditating on the legacy of colonialism, the oppression of people of color around the world, and the push and pull of calls for isolationism and for global activism. Though squeezed into the standard hero movie structure, Black Panther takes its audience to a different space, one untouched by the rest of the world and, in some ways, untouched by the broader cinematic universe the film exists within, which gives the movie its unassuming strength.


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Captain America: Civil War Brings the Superheroic Back Down to Earth

CAUTION: This review contains major spoilers for Captain America: Civil War.

Before Anthony and Joe Russo were directing superhero movies, they worked on a little show called Community about a group of misfits at a community college. The series, oddly enough, had a surprising amount in common with The Avengers. Both were about seven people from different backgrounds who bounced off one another in interesting ways, carried their own unique psychological baggage, and who would still, now and then, come together and do amazing things.

One of the most remarkable things about Community was its mastery of tone. The series was pitched as a comedy, and true to that billing, it was a funny, creative, and occasionally off-the-wall show. And yet it could just as easily shift into something quiet and personal, something unremittingly dark, or even something difficult and complex that lacked the sorts of easy answers seemingly required of all network sitcoms. The Russo brothers brought the same incredible ability to mesh different tones and characters to Captain America: Civil War and translated it onto a much bigger stage without missing a beat.

Because Civil War is hilarious, action-packed, and all kinds of fun. It’s has tons of inventive sequences and fights big and small that are filled with humor and imagination. But at the same time, Civil War is, in its own way, a very dark film about fear, regret, anger, a deep divide and a personal loss. It touches on big ideas like moral responsibility, individual guilt for broader actions, and the dangers of power without boundaries. The film, however, grounds these ideas in its well-developed characters, intimate individual moments, and personal relationships. It’s a smorgasbord of different scenes and settings and moods that can make you laugh, gasp, and feel the tragedy of a given moment, without letting these varying tones clash. And that is one hell of an achievement.


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