Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Review


It’s time for the big Black Panther sequel. The first movie was definitely a big hit and was a fun ride all the way through. Trying to do the sequel without the original character was always going to be an extremely difficult task. Unfortunately it was a challenge that this movie could not overcome where its long length is felt this time around. The movie goes for a very somber tone for a decent chunk of the film and unfortunately this comes at the expense of the film as a whole. It felt very underwhelming as the film ended and I gave it some time until the next day to see if that might help stabilize things but it didn’t really move. Lets go more into depth on this one below.

The movie starts with Shuri trying to save Black Panther but unfortunately she was unable to recreate the heart in time and he passes. A year goes by and she has buried herself in her work to try and make Wakanda safer but her mother Queen Ramonda believes that Shuri is just doing her best not to think about her brother and this will hurt her down the line. So they go off to a quiet place in Wakonda but Namor appears and lets them know that the United States has developed a machine that can find Vibranium and his people are in the crossfire now. He intends to destroy the surface world and wants Wakanda to bring him the scientist and then the two countries can team up. Queen Ramonda will have to carefully decide how to play this or Namor and the Atlanteans might wipe her country off the face of the planet.

I’ll probably bounce back and forth between the positives and negatives as I go through the review so this should be more like a roller coaster experience. The first positive here is Shuri who does a good job as the main character. I wouldn’t say that she fills T’Challa’s shoes here but it’s always nice to have an inventor who can actually fight. She hasn’t wasted the time that has passed and has come up with all manner of defenses and weapons to aid her and the country in battle. Wakanda may have a lot of tech but it is still relatively small so they have to keep developing new items or things will be dangerous.

The film also goes out of its way to explain why the kingdom feels so weak most of the time despite this and it’s a good explanation. Perhaps a bit annoying but it does prevent this from feeling like a plot hole. Basically the country is super big on tradition so they refuse to use Shuri’s mecha suits, energy weapons, and presumably all of the other tech that she has developed over the years. It’s why they still use spears and basic armor instead of anything fancy. They’ll want to change that tune eventually or it may be tough to stay afloat but by the end of the film I feel like things are going in a positive direction there.

Unfortunately I didn’t like Ramonda in this movie. She was thrown into the role of Queen so it’s absolutely all right that she is not very experienced in this role as of yet but she tends to overreact a whole lot. She handles one situation with her subordinate quite terrible and you may mistake her for Odin for a minute there. Ramonda never really fights here and that could have at least helped her establish some authority. She never comes across as a very reasonable person and perhaps to contrast how Shuri was trying to be 100% logical with no emotions, Ramonda was the opposite way.

I was also not very impressed with the designs for the Atlanteans and even Namor himself. That screw stabbed through his face makes it look like he just lost a 1 on 1 to Misogi Kuwagawa the whole time. He doesn’t have that air of dignity and power that he typically does in the comics. He isn’t a big flirt this time so that’s good though. At the end of the day he’s a very selfish king who just likes picking fights. I don’t think the film seriously tried making him all that sympathetic here and that’s fine. Not every villain is meant to be sympathetic and having a big villain to be defeated works well.

They did his power justice though. He looks good and even in an extremely weakened state he is shown to be more than a match for anyone in this film. Namor became more of a Black Panther villain in recent (Relatively speaking since I don’t follow the comics too closely) years but before that he would typically go up against whole teams or very powerful opponents because he’s well above the street level tier. In the first film we saw how the suit could absorb most impacts and yet it doesn’t do much against him here which was a good way to highlight his power.

His two main subordinates Attuma and Namora look good in the fights but they just look way too much like expendable minions the whole time. They don’t feel like they have real designs considering how big their characters are in the comics. I’m hoping a sequel could change that with updated effects. The Atlanteans almost looked like characters out of Avatar and it also takes away from their appearing threatening..because they don’t seem very tough. One lady shoots a ton of them in the opening scene so you feel like they only do decent later on because people keep on hitting their weapons or not aiming properly.

Okoye is always a fun character though. Shuri gives her a hard time but Okoye is always ready for a good fight and does well here. She was definitely a step under Attuma but that makes sense since he is usually a powerhouse. She has a good dynamic with Shuri and that’s always good to see. Meanwhile Nakia gets a pivotal role here as well. She embarks on a tough mission and just gets the job done as needed.

There is a subplot with Ross as he keeps trying to give info over to Wakanda. I liked this subplot quite a bit because he makes for an entertaining character. We also get to see the US Government which is always fun. As always in these movies they want to blow everyone up and get rich so they’re good antagonists. My only issue here would be it feels more like this film is in a vacuum where the rest of the universe doesn’t exist in respect to the government. Over 10 years ago they had very impressive weaponry to take on the Hulk and have consistently improved their tech. Why are they sending normal joes with guns to take out a Wakanda facility?

The scene is there to make the Wakanda defenses look good and all but it would be even more impressive to see them take on some powerful tech. It’s an amusing scene either way as these guys get taken down quick but there just feels like a disconnect here compared to how you would expect the U.S. Government to be at this point in the MCU. Even if it’s a stealth unit then they would carry some kind of super powerful weapons right?

Riri makes her big debut here and as the next generation Ironman we’ve been waiting for her to show up for a while. Right now she was mainly just working out of a small building without big tech so of course she doesn’t have anything ultra powerful just yet but the film shows off her genius well by having her build an Iron-Man suit and also construct the first ever device that can detect Vibranium. She has been putting in the work and it’s nice to finally hear someone yell “Let’s Gooooo!” since that’s one of the best modern sayings. It would be cool if that could become her catchphrase. I look forward to seeing where her plot goes.

Finally M’Baku also looks very good here. Unfortunately the film never gives him a proper win against an important foe but we still get to see his bravery as he jumps into every fight. Personally I think he deserved a good win but either way he had some of the more impactful moments here and it was definitely good to see him. He’s really come a long way in these two movies since where he used to be.

Now with the characters out of the way lets talk more about the film as a whole. I mentioned that it feels a bit long and that’s the biggest issue in the movie. It is going for a very somber tone and the in-universe reason is that Black Panther died so the nation is in mourning. As the film goes on Shuri is supposed to eventually give in to her feelings and cry it out since the main morale in the movie is not to hold things in. The issue is that this destroys the film’s pacing in more than one scene and grinds things to a halt. Every time we have extended somber scenes there is no chance for anything else to be happening.

This may be the first main MCU film where you actually may find some of the scenes to be a bit boring. We have to be explained that Namor is the great sea god twice as even the exposition can get a bit long and this is a movie that could have really benefited from having about 40 minutes taken off the run time. That could have helped the pacing so this could be more of a frantic action film. We do have some fight scenes but there aren’t many so the general action scenes will have to fit the bill for you.

On the fights, there were two standout ones at least. There is the fight on the bridge which is structured similar to the one in Black Widow and while it may not have been as strong as that one, it was a good one on one fight. We got to really see Attuma’s strength here and I just liked seeing a straight up battle like this. Then there’s the one on one battle you’ve been waiting for with Black Panther and Namor in the desert. It’s definitely the best fight in the film and uses a good amount of strategy in addition to the action which makes for a pretty good mix.

The special effects are definitely good throughout the movie though. You won’t have any issues there as the costumes look good and the energy attacks are on point. For the soundtrack, it’s not quite as good as the first film’s but there was one theme I enjoyed during the 3 way chase scene with Riri, Okoye, and Shuri. That song was on point and put a lot of extra energy into the scene and enhanced the chase as a whole.

While the film isn’t one of the funnier ones in the MCU, I would say that M’Baku got the best comedy scene by far. There’s one moment where Okoye and her group start bashing him and his men as usually so he starts making those Gorilla noises and everyone else does too and you have to chuckle a bit along with them because they’re just going in. It was a great way to end the back and forth argument while still having the upper hand with how out of nowhere that was. I thought that was a really excellent move. Still there’s enough jokes in here where you should find a fun one that you like as well.

There is one old character who makes a quick appearance in the film and he looks great. He has a really solid speech and you have to admire how confident the guy is. He just has no doubts about anything and while that is the very same trait which tends to lead him astray, it makes him a powerful speaker. I had a lot of fun seeing him there that’s for sure. It would be nice to see him return in a larger capacity.

There’s also an after credits scene here which is okay. Its definitely on the weaker side but you can see what they’re doing here. I just couldn’t help but think “Another somber scene?”. It also goes on for a while too long which embodies the film’s issue as a whole. For example this scene could have been ended halfway. You already get the context of what’s happening without the film trying to knock the point into you with the last lines. We understand the plot twist from the instant the character appears, we don’t need it spelled out. At least it sets up another plot seed that should be fun in a future film, provided there is a considerable time skip.

If the film really wanted to go the somber route then they needed to change the context of T’Challa’s death in the movie. Out of universe the whole thing was tragic but in universe he didn’t die stopping a giant end of the world threat or protecting his friends so it doesn’t work nearly as well. When you think of emotional deaths that make you teary you think of Mob Psycho, One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, DBZ, and titles like that where things really got tragic. Fighting until the end or entering a hopeless battle and then being defeated are the most emotional ways to go out. And then of course you’ll also have had that big action moment to bump things up.

I guess I would have just had Black Panther have a quick fight where he dies at the beginning of the film and then you play the emotional scenes afterwards. You could even adapt the opening moments of Ultimate Avengers 2 and that becomes a whole plot point of what that creature was and of course Namor still shows up so that gets sidelined. That would have been an effective way to kick things off. So at the very least those are some of the rewrite ideas that I would have had. The other route you could go would be to throw in some guest stars.

That would give the film more memorable characters and would automatically enhance the skirmishes and war scenes. Then you’d have a lot of big characters to follow and all. Shuri and Okoye are good characters as I mentioned earlier but they are still known more as side characters and having some kind of power hitter here to help out would have been nice. It’s always a tall bar to try and do a whole film without one of the big characters and it’s almost easier to pick a brand new character and make them big than upgrade the side character. Still, with Black Panther at the ready the third film should be able to jump right into the action this time and I think that will also end up helping the tone as well.

Overall, Wakanda Forever is going for a very different vibe than the first Black Panther. The original film went for a balanced approach of being a classic action movie and just executing on a high level. The villain was very memorable, the action scenes were good, and it was all amplified with a good soundtrack and solid humor. This film is going for the emotional vibes instead and basically using that to hold up the whole movie but you can’t survive on that alone. Without another top notch villain to help keep things up or the other aspects that made the first film so good, this one couldn’t hold up. It just isn’t all that interesting at times and it felt like the movie needed some kind of burst or pop moment to get you back into the mix. As the film throws in a bunch of flashbacks to the original Black Panther you almost can’t help but be tempted to go back and watch the original. It’s still worth checking this one out at least once as you continue the story but it is one of Marvel’s weakest entries into the MCU.

Overall 5/10

What If…? Season 1 Review


Lets take a look at the latest in the series of MCU related TV shows. This one’s a bit different from the rest as it takes place outside of the normal universe although you could probably guess that from the title. The What If comics from back in the day were always a lot of fun. There’s a ton you can do with the concept to the point where there are really limitless possibilities. A single story can turn into 20. Any scene where you might have called for “plot hax” or something can now be rewritten so you can see how it “should” have ended. This show’s off to a good start, lets break down each episode.

The first episode is What If Peggy Carter became Captain America instead of Steve. In this case Steve ended up getting shot and was in no condition to continue the experiment so Peggy went in his stead. Can she still end the war and save the world? It’s a decent way to start off the season but at the same time the reason this was not very exciting is because it doesn’t feel much like a What If. Put it this way, Steve had no real combat experience and was rather scrawny before taking the serum. Carter knows how to fight and has kept in top shape.

After taking the serum they would more or less be equal and Peggy should actually be more skilled initially thanks to her combat experience. So completing the events of the movie is sort of a given. The show tries to add a bit of a change here with a random monster at the end which was fun but for all intents and purposes this is just the first film again. It’s a good story, just nothing that you haven’t already seen before.

Next up we have an episode that really goes out there. The Ravagers head to Earth and pick up T’Challa by mistake instead of Peter Quill. T’Challa ends up becoming the Star Lord and is rather good at it. He ends up being an accomplished Ravager and even ends up convincing Thanos not to snap half of the universe away and gets the guy to join the team. The Black Order is still on the loose though and they could do a lot of damage with the “Embers” so the team has to put a stop to this assuming they can trust Nebula.

Now this is what you would expect from a What If episode. By changing one thing you’ve changed a whole lot of other aspects. Thanos being a Guardian of the Galaxy is a good example of this. It’s fun seeing how T’Challa would work as a Ravager and the episode has quick pacing and a lot going on at all times. It’s an engaging story although it does have some power level issues.

Namely Thanos and this is not the only time he will be clowned in this series. I can’t believe for a moment that Thanos would be having any kind of trouble against these guys. He was actually losing against the Order and it’s like he just became a huge punching bag the instant he turned good. Remember that Thanos was casually beating the Hulk in Infinity War and that was without using any of the stones. Given that, there is no way he would be having any kind of trouble against the Order. This should have been an easy stomp. Still, power level issues aside this was quite solid.

The third episode is one of the highlights of the season as we get a true mystery episode. Someone is picking off members of the Avengers but the trick is that the Avengers haven’t actually formed yet. So someone knows who was going to be on the roster and is taking them out ahead of time. This ends up bringing in some attention from Asgard as well since Thor was one of the targets. Who could possibly be strong enough to defeat everyone?

This is a well written story in large part because I can actually buy a lot of this. At first you may be skeptical as to how this person could take down all of the Avengers and the episode has a pretty good explanation. At most you may just be skeptical with the Hulk. It’s a question of if the radiation and blood would be enough to break through and prevent this from happening or if the skin was strong enough to resist. In both cases I would say there is enough room for doubt where I would buy into it. I had no issues here which is impressive for this kind of story. The reveal at the end also makes sense.

Following that up is a Dr. Strange story. Basically he doesn’t go into a car crash initially and lives long enough to have a good relationship going with Christine. Well, one day she dies in a car crash and so Strange decides to become a magician to bring her back to life. Everyone warns him against this but he correctly decides to go back in time. The problem is that every attempt seems to end in failure so he has to find some way to save her life for good. What depths of power will it take to pull this off?

I definitely like this kind of story quite a lot where we see the lengths Strange will go in order to save Christine. Now where he crosses the line is when he starts to actually destroy other monsters to get stronger. There’s nothing wrong with altering time and going back to make things better as long as you aren’t hurting anyone. The moment time travel is established you don’t know if someone else has been messing with time so it’s all fair game. It does seem as though the universe is rigged as Strange tries to save her many times and I appreciate the effort. You really can’t give up and have to just keep trying until the end. The climax fight with the two Stranges was also a blast. I felt like this episode really fit a whole lot into it.

In the 5th episode we get the big Zombies episode. So what if the Wasp came back but she had the Zombie virus and quickly started transmitting it. Before long the Avengers are infected as well so there is just a small group of heroes left to fend them off. Either they will find the cure and save the world or the entire planet will be covered with zombies before long. It’s a solid thriller kind of episode. Now this one does feel a bit more iffy with how the heroes are infected though. Now granted there are a lot of ways to make the zombies do well here. The way it was shown just didn’t seem right.

So the Avengers fly in and land in the middle of a bridge only to be surrounded by zombies and quickly got slaughtered. There were thousands of zombies by this point so it was impossible to miss them. Why fly to the middle of the bridge? You either blast from afar or if you don’t want to hurt the zombies, then stay in the air. Going to the bridge was effectively a suicide mission. The twist ending I also have a hard time buying because I don’t see how a certain someone would get infected. Unless a bunch of other planets already got infected, I don’t see how Earth would have had time to tag this guy.

It was cool to see the last remnants of humanity banding together here. It was a good team up here and the end of the world always gives a good opportunity to see some team ups that you wouldn’t otherwise have. I’d say this is probably around the middle of the season. It doesn’t beat a few of the others that I’ve mentioned but still offered a good scenario. This is such a famous story that you almost feel like it could and should have been a multi parter though.

In episode 6, what if Killmonger was the one to save Tony from the events of Iron Man 1? This causes him to be promoted to a very high position and he convinces Iron Man to help him build a bunch of armors. The guy is surprisingly quite smart with tech here to the point of it maybe being too convenient. He then decides to slowly start taking control of the world. This one’s definitely quite out there which is good but I do feel like the characters got sloppy at times. There’s no way Killmonger should have made it out of the room once Tony knew what was up. I had a hard time believing he could beat the robot or that Tony’s room wouldn’t have some kind of evidence of what really happened.

Things certainly worked out quite well for Killmonger that’s for sure. It was a good episode although a bit on the unbelievable side to me. You know, come to think of it this has been a rough stretch for Iron Man, seems like he’s died quite a few times in this series. Surprisingly this is one of the only episodes where the twist ending actually gives the heroes some hope as opposed to almost all of the others where it ends with the villains getting ready to win.

Next up is the party Thor episode. What If Loki stayed as a frost giant so Thor grew up on his own and got super spoiled. He decides to throw a big party that’s so powerful it starts to destroy the planet. Fury is forced to call in Captain Marvel and the two have some big fights. It’s definitely the most light hearted episode to the point where you can call it a comedy. There’s more slapstick here, the characters are having fun and Thor’s mom even gets to have some hype.

It’s a nice enough episode. The fight with Thor and Marvel is absolutely the highlight and really why you will be watching this. It’s nice to see both characters blasting each other back and forth. I would say Thor definitely has the edge based on how the fight was going here since he was holding back the whole time and just having fun while Marvel was clearly going all out. Even with her best attacks Thor was just having fun the whole time which speaks to his skills. I think the episode would have benefited from being taken just a bit more seriously though. The next two episodes get quite serious though so I suppose this was a way to brace yourself for those parts.

In this case Ultron ended up getting the full download into Vision’s body and was able to quickly wipe the team out. He even one shotted Thanos (I had a hard time buying into that one) and then proceeded to take over the world. Black Widow and Hawkeye are the last lines of resistance against him and need to find some kind of way to take him down. It’s difficult because of how strong he has gotten though so they may need some unexpected help.

Part 1 is the best episode in the season so far. The fight scene between Ultron and the Watcher is really solid and I like how far the series went with it. We have reality breaking and Ultron even eat a universe at one point in one of the rare moments where we see what a universe buster can do in a practical setting. Now this does come back to haunt the show in part 2 with how powerful Ultron looks here but the whole thing is definitely very impressive. It also shows us what a threat Ultron is and why we will have to band the team together.

The final episode is really a big team up as we have reps from almost every episode show up to try and take Ultron down. It’s nice to see what reality’s final line of defense can do. The only one you can take seriously as a threat to Ultron at this point is Dr. Strange. I liked the show’s decision to have a magic barrier blocking all damage for the rest of the heroes since it at least gives a reason for why they don’t all get one shotted. I still don’t see why Ultron couldn’t just beat everyone a lot quicker though.

Keep in mind that he should be able to destroy the planet in an instant with no real effort that would have put most of the heroes in a bad spot. At one point he even ponders out loud why he is having so much trouble. I don’t know myself, Ultron was shown to be so powerful that he should have easily been crushing these guys. If you can get past the power level angle then you’ve still got a solid end here. It’s naturally fun to see all of the characters teaming up at the end like this.

And that wraps up season 1. There were definitely a lot of fun adventures here. They’re entertaining and the writing is on point here. I may have some power level issues mainly with Thanos in all of his appearances and Ultron at the end but the scenarios themselves are on point. I also like how each of the episodes have a twist ending at the ready. Usually you can assume that the heroes are doomed to be destroyed but if season 2 continues some of these scenarios then we’ll see how they get past them.

Personally I’d rather season 2 is completely filled with new scenarios though. Keep each one as a one and done because there are just so many slots that you don’t want to have to go back and revisit any with such a limited amount of episodes per season. Trust me when I say it would only take an hour or less to come up with a full 10 seasons worth of great scenarios so the more new ones you can do the better.

One thing I would like them to change for season 2 is the animation though. It’s well below average and just doesn’t look all that good. The art style is trying its best to look fairly realistic but as a result it doesn’t stand out and the colors are very faded except for some of the fight scenes. The fights can be quite solid but another style would really do the show some wonders. Give it a more traditional animation style like Spider-Man or the Avengers EMH show and then you’re in business.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Watcher keeps claiming that he won’t interfere during the pre episode narration in season 2 now that he has broken his vow. Hopefully he doesn’t so we can acknowledge that now he is ready to step in if things get too dangerous. I’ve never been much of a fan of the Watcher because of how slow he is to act. At least in this show he can fight rather well so I give him some props there. It is his best appearance in all of Marvel but he needs to start interfering to save these universes and then I would really start liking the guy.

Overall, Marvel’s What If is a solid show and it’s a great premise for a title. This is a good way to really bring up some fun scenarios that you couldn’t do in the main universe. As the seasons expand I like to imagine we can expand the character roster too and really get in some more characters like the X-Men, Fantastic Four, etc. If you’ve been curious to see how things could quickly go off the rails then you’ll want to check this out. Hopefully season 2 doesn’t take too long to come out.

Overall 7/10

Anguirus vs Black Panther




Suggested by Destroyer Anguirus is a pretty tough Kaiju. He may get some mockery for being weak relatively speaking next to the other Godzilla monsters but he can still make waves. There are plenty of Kaiju that aren’t a part of the Godzilla verse that he could tackle. That being said, it won’t be enough to stop Black Panther. While the Panther may not have the same level of tech as Tony Stark, he’s got quite a lot of suits in his armory and even an “Iron Man” suit of his own. He would be able to completely overwhelm Anguirus. Black Panther wins.

Black Panther vs Windeagle


cb23b87ada603892886db0ebf7e8a309--marvel-series-comic-book-covers
Black Panther has returned to face off against one of his old foes. The Windeagle may have a gun, but that doesn’t automatically mean that he is an incredible villain to be feared. Black Panther still has the vastly superior hand to hand skills which will help him win this match up with ease. He is faster and stronger than Windeagle so there is little chance for the villain to tip the scales. Windeagle will likely fade from our memories once more. Black Panther wins.

White Wolf vs Black Panther


Black-Panther-White-Wolf
The White Wolf is one of Black Panther’s more dangerous opponents as he is a threat to Wakanda itself. His hand to hand skills are on point and in a fair fight Black Panther only has a slight edge. Fortunately for T’Challa, he also has a wide array of armors at his disposal which will make it easier for him to take White Wolf’s hits while dishing out lethal ones. Panther has grown stronger with time while the White Wolf has remained relatively stagnant. Black Panther wins.

American Panther vs Black Panther


2063768-black_panther_vs_american_panther_1
The American Panther is one of those villains that lost pretty quickly so he never became a big character. Still, he has a cool costume and is a decent hand to hand fighter. He’s certainly not in T’Challa’s league though. In a fair fight this fake panther would stand no chance against the real deal. Black Panther has the better tech and the better skills so it would be very difficult to defeat him. Black Panther wins.

Black Panther vs Killmonger


Killmonger-Black-Panther
Killmonger is a villain that I wasn’t really aware of before the movie, but he is certainly a credible villain in the comics. Black Panther has apparently never beaten him in one on one combat in the comics according to the page on Comicvine. He does seem to be superior to Panther in hand to hand combat, but fortunately for T’Challa he does have a lot of armors and tech at his disposal. It’s no surprise that a character with his resources would manage to snag a few upgrades through the years. Killmonger just wouldn’t be able to keep up unless he was at an even playing field. Black Panther wins.

Black Panther vs Man Ape


mbaku
This is a tribute to Black Panther. Man Ape is one of those villains who is fairly iconic but didn’t really get much better in the modern comics. He used to be a credible threat to Black Panther but has long since been surpassed. While he looked good in the movie, he still isn’t ready to surpass the king. A fitting way for Black Panther to score his first win on the blog! Black Panther wins.

Black Panther Review


It’s time to take a look at the next Marvel Cinematic film! Even though we get 2-3 of these a year, it always feels like such a long wait until the next one. This one has been a long time in the making as Black Panther got a lot of fans after his appearance in Civil War. He was definitely a highlight in that film and remains a great lead in this film. The movie does a good job of not letting the jungle limit it and we do get quite a few nice city scenes as well. All told, it’s a solid addition to the MCU and I’d be up for a sequel although I don’t think there is too much more they can do here in Wakanda so a sequel would probably need to take place at one of the other bases.

The film starts with a quick recap of Wakanda history. We then see the previous Black Panther murder a traitor which sets up the main plot. Right after Black Panther is crowned King of Wakanda, another member of royal blood has shown up to take it back. King T’Challa must now learn what it means to be King and if he even wants to rule such unloyal followers. Either way, he has a duty to stop this villain from launching an attack on the rest of the world or Wakanda will face severe retaliation of the Avenging kind.

I had one big fear when walking into this film and that was that the movie would resort to animal violence since part of Wakanda is essentially a jungle. Then just when I thought I was safe, 3 large Rhinos showed up. Fortunately the film went out of its way to ensure that none of them were hurt. Panther trapped one, a second just ran off, and the third one turned good. Once this scene had been played out, I knew that the film was going to be safe. We also mitigate the jungle aspect as most of Wakanda is actually very high tech and sci-fi esque. I definitely enjoy seeing technology and cities the most so this was good for me. I’m still not a fan of any landscape that isn’t a city of some kind or the inside of a high tech facility. Those just make for the best scenes if you ask me.

The best scenes of the film all take place in the city for the most part. The opening fight scene with Klaw and his gang was handled really well. Panther’s new suit made for some good action effects like when he totaled the car. The old suit was bullet proof which is great, but this one does all of that and more. While the suit is shown to have limitations, this should help him keep up with heavy weights like Spider-Man now. In theory, Captain America would probably lose at this point since their fight was already very close and now landing any damage on Black Panther will be very difficult. It’s a really useful power up and with all of the new tech Panther’s sister is coming up with, he is only going to get stronger.

Pretty much all of the hand to hand fights here are really good. The scene where both Panthers are decimating the opposing armies was a nice contrast as they are both way stronger than the rest of the fighters. Of course, that’s why Black Panther needed to hurry and take the other one out since casualties would run high. Even with this, the film does a good job of making the warriors look reasonably strong. I’d personally say that they looked more impressive than the Amazons in Wonder Woman as these seem to know how to fight and wouldn’t get caught off guard by bullets from people right in front of them. The film also corrects one more thing from the WW film. In that title we learn that the Amazons are also hiding in plain sight by having their island just appear as more water. This doesn’t work for obvious reasons. People just fly through there anyway and then the illusion fades. They would get found out in no time. In Black Panther, the illusion is backed up by being an actual country with borders. They have soldiers and weapons deter anyone from approaching. The deception is simply in appearing to be poorer than they actually are. Maybe this will still be a bit of a stretch for some, but it’s much more believable if you ask me.

Black Panther is a very solid character as I mentioned earlier. While his best appearance will likely always be in Civil War as his character was perfect there, he doesn’t really do anything wrong here. Maybe he should have been quicker to throw the villain out or done more to prevent Klaw from escaping, but you can’t expect him to think of every possible contingency. Thanks to the ritual fights forcing Panther to be in human mode, we do see a more vulnerable version of him. His hand to hand skills actually may be under Bucky, Black Widow, and some of the other hand to hand characters in the series as he has trouble with various fighters, but granted, he should always have the Panther serum for future films so it shouldn’t be a problem. He’s still more than proficient as only high level fighters can hope to defeat him. He may be King, but Panther isn’t stuck up or arrogant yet which is good. Part of why he can be annoying in the comics is that he ends up being like Black Bolt at times where he seems completely corrupt with power. I don’t think the films will be going that route.

Ross is a surprisingly great character and was actually my favorite in the film. He’s a very confident CIA agent who doesn’t back down from anyone. His illegal dealings with Klaw may be suspect, but I get the feeling that he was going to double cross the villain. He’s quick on his feet and an ace pilot as well. He’ll certainly be fun to have around for future films and I’m glad that the CIA has at least one really good member. It seems like they’ve been playing second fiddle to SHIELD for a while so it’s time to finally surpass them. Ross doesn’t really have any bad scenes. Another really good character is Panther’s sister Shuri. She recently got to appear in an animated Avengers episode and based on her portrayal there the film’s depiction was also very accurate. She’s a genius with tech and has come up with many great inventions in a short span of time considering that this takes place only around a week after Civil War. Considering that a big threat like Thanos and his army won’t go down to brute force so easily, her tech will come in handy. She’s not afraid to get on the front lines as well and is just a very charismatic character the whole time.

Killmonger is the main villain of the film and he’s pretty cool. Even before becoming the Panther Killmonger was a very talented fighter as he racked up kills in many different countries. It was interesting to see how he was an undercover agent for the CIA who managed to use the heroes and villains until he finally got into Wakanda. To an extent I do have to question how he knew so much about Wakanda though. He knew about the traditions and seemed just very well aware of the culture in general. We can assume he found the location from the book and since his father was okay with him finding it, maybe that’s when he learned everything. Maybe the book was also just very detailed. Getting Klaw was easy enough since it was relatively common knowledge that he was the one who broke into Wakanda the first time. Killmonger does continue the Marvel tradition of having a villain who has the same abilities as the main hero as he and T’Challa are essentially copies of each other, but that doesn’t really matter to me all that much as long as the fights are good and they were here.

I didn’t care for Klaw though. He’s just not my kind of villain and seems to just get lucky all the time. He’s just a normal guy with a sonic cannon and he isn’t even all that fit. I don’t know how he escaped for this long, but it definitely seems like a stretch. He’s wanted by basically every powerful person on the planet so where can he possibly hide? Well, his plot seems to have finally wrapped up here and I won’t miss him. Okoye was a good member of the Wakanda special forces and is certainly one of their best fighters. Her best combat appearance is probably in the club where she beats up quite a few special agents, but she also puts up a reasonable fight against Killmonger. At that point, tech just beats talent, but otherwise I don’t see any Wakandan fighter beating her in a fair battle.

W’Kabi is a pretty terrible character. I can’t say much about him, but you’ll probably know where his character is heading right from the start. It’s similar to a character beat we saw from Doctor Strange only this one is probably more petty. There’s definitely no saving this character. Nakia is a decent character. She doesn’t get much to do and is overshadowed by the others, but isn’t bad. I do wish we could have avoided the token romance which doesn’t add anything to the film and just seems to be filler, but I guess it wasn’t given much of a focus so it could have been a whole lot worse. Nakia’s Tron Discs were cool though. Between that and the Energy Cannons, we had quite a lot of good weapons that have a lot of potential for future films. She just need a hoverboard or air boots to help her maneuver quicker. Baku’s a fun character s well. He definitely has a strong sense of honor and will repay his debts. When he accepted his defeat gracefully without trying any cheap tricks I had a feeling that he would be a good character. He also has a point that Killmonger beat Black Panther in a fair fight so calling it murder was a little drastic. Blame the outdated ritual system, not the player. Baku made the right decision in the end though and really came through for the heroes.

It can be hard to feel bad for Wakanda when they have such poor traditions though. Why should Black Panther have to fight to be king anyway? I guess it’s to give the other tribes a way to be King, but since it will just cause tensions and potentially get them to split again it doesn’t really seem to be practical. I’m pretty sure T’Challa learned his lesson with that though and probably abolished that rule very quickly. Also, the fact that it’s possible to suffocate underneath the dirt they throw on your for the ceremony is another part where you have to shake your head. What’s with all of these unnecessary risks? Killmonger may not have done it for the right reasons, but at least thanks to him these traditions are probably gone as well. On a side note, I was wondering where Bucky and Captain America were hiding the whole time, but I guess getting involved in this fight would have just made things more complicated. Panther could have certainly used some backup, but it all worked out.

I really enjoyed the soundtrack here. I didn’t care much for the Lion King themes or the tribe tradition music, but a lot of the tunes were surprisingly techno/electronic. It seems like this theme would pop up whenever the villain showed up and basically for any action scene. Good music makes the whole presentation that much better and it definitely worked really well here. I’d say that as far as MCU soundtracks go this would definitely be in the top half. The visuals are also really good. I do like the purple energy that the suit gets from taking a hit and the metallic invention room that the sister uses looks cool. It’s a pretty nice set up for sure. The writing is also solid as you’d expect. The one liners between the characters are usually pretty solid. Killmonger adding a more modern/slang spin to Wakanda was also rather nice. He acts as a bridge between the new and old ways to an extent.

The film does have some of the weakest after credit scenes though. The first one just feels like it should have been the actual ending. It’s not really teasing a lot considering you knew this was where Panther was going with the idea. It’s not a bad scene, but it’s not really much of a stinger either. The second scene is far worse as it is showing us something that we’ve already known. It isn’t even a good character that we see and is just rather boring. You could feel the theater letting out a sigh as we waited for something else to show up and then the clip ended. These scenes are just bonus so they can’t hurt a film at all, but I was still hoping for something a little more hype.

So where do all of the Avengers stack up power-wise now? I’d list the rankings as 1. Thor 2. Hulk 3. Dr. Strange 4. Spider-Man 5. Iron Man 6. Vision 7. Black Panther 8. Captain America 9. Scarlet Witch 10. Black Widow 11. Ant Man 12. Hawkeye. For now I’m not counting the Guardians or the helpers like War Machine and Valkyrie, but I’ll do a more complete list for Infinity War. The suit was definitely enough for Panther to finally pass Cap. Strange could potentially pass Hulk depending on how powerful his magic is in Infinity War and by the same token Vision could drop behind Panther and Cap if he looks really bad without his Gem. Some of these matchups are pretty close so a power up can make all the difference.

Overall, Black Panther is a fun and engaging film. It’s pretty fast paced for the most part so it comes across as very exciting the first time around. I do think it will lack in replay value to an extent because some of the dialogue will likely drag on the second time around along with the flashbacks. When the action is happening the film is at its best but we do get some reasonably long breaks in between the action like getting Panther back into fighting shape and having the council of Wakanda chat about things. The writing is strong though and the cast is good though so it’s certainly a movie that I’d recommend to everyone. It’s good to see another Marvel hero get a stand alone film and we are one step closer to Avengers Infinity War now. I have high hopes for that film and am fully expecting it to be one of the best MCU films yet. There are just so many good ways that the film can play this out that I have to assume they will choose one of them. It’ll be cool to see Panther lend his might to the team as well. Only a few short months left.

Overall 7/10

Captain America and the Falcon Secret Empire Review


It’s time to take a look at the Secret Empire. Recently Marvel has had fun bringing back old events. We got a new Civil War, Infinity Gauntlet, and even the Secret Empire. Many don’t know this but there was an original Secret Empire event which the new one is lightly based off of. Honestly, it’s very light so the plots are quite different, but it goes to show that Marvel has been doing their research. This isn’t a very good event, but it’s decent enough. The writing just hasn’t aged well in some respects.

The collection starts off with Falcon being jumped by a bunch of hooligans. Captain America saves him, but Falcon isn’t happy since he’s tired of being in Cap’s shadow. Cap offers to help him get a power up through Iron-Man or Hank Pym, but Falcon wants it to be someone more relatable so he goes to Black Panther. This is only the start of where Falcon starts to act petty. He brings his girlfriend along for the ride basically just to show off and she gets competitive with the others very quickly. She picks fights with almost literally everyone she comes across and even throws a spear at Black Panther just to get his attention. Thanks to her, two of Black Panther’s guards are murdered and Falcon doesn’t seem to care as he keeps bragging about his upgrades. He runs back to show them off to Cap and is quite eager to take on the Avenger in a fight.

While Falcon was gone, a smear campaign was run against Captain America on TV and it was quite successful. So successful in fact that within days the whole country was agiainst the hero, even the Avengers. It’s almost laughable how quickly Iron-Man shows up with his threats and Falcon starts to have doubts as well. Even Nick Fury quickly jumps on the bandwagon. Captain America begins to lose faith in America which is understandable but before he call it quits, it’s time to take down the Secret Empire. It turns out that they have also kidnapped most of the X-Men so Professor Xavier, Jean Grey, and Cyclops arrive as backup. Together, the heroes stand a fighting chance, but Cap may have to cross some lines in order to clear his name.

The Evil Cap part is what the new Secret Empire is really going for while here it was all just bad media coverage. I think a big problem with the arc is that it all hinges on Marvel’s America being as gullible as possible. Did everyone really believe these media interviews so completely? What happened to the Daily Bugle and their reporting skills? Why didn’t the Avengers launch a campaign of their own? Why would everyone accept a new Moon hero coming out of nowhere as Captain America’s replacement? I felt like this comic took a lot of beats from the Thunderbolts but in a far more rushed and less believable scenario. I don’t know, the whole thing was rather fishy the whole time.

Captain America also wasn’t at his most likable in this comic either. He basically said that he wouldn’t help the X-Men until they pointed out that it was the same villain behind both schemes. He falls for every trap that the enemies laid out because his emotions cloud his judgment the whole time. It’s easy to forget that he is supposed to be a seasoned veteran here because he rarely acts like it. He also makes the wrong decision to end the comic and this has got to be the 4th or 5th time he’s done this. I didn’t realize that he was lacking in confidence so often. He’s still an entertaining enough character to watch, but he can be annoying.

Falcon is unfortunately even worse. He spends the early issues being jealous of Cap and then he rushes into battle without actually remembering how to fight. In a critical moment he ends up knocking out Black Panther and himself by mistake and tends to lose in all of his fights. Even in his big return fight where he teamed up with Cap, he lost in under 5 seconds. Naturally he started throwing petty insults at Cap after that. Falcon has just got to be the most petty superhero of all time and I’d consider him to be more whiny than Alpha from the recent Spider-Man comics. I’m glad that the Falcon has improved over the years because otherwise I can’t see why he’d stay on as a main character.

Black Panther looked good here. Despite everyone rushing him and murdering his men, he stayed calm throughout and always had a plan. He was definitely useful here. Thor and Iron-Man had decent motivational speeches, but didn’t do much in the story beyond that. There is a subplot where Peggy thinks Cap still likes her while he actually likes someone else. This drama plot definitely feels like it’s out of left field. It could be resolved rather quickly but Cap is too nervous to say anything. I’m not too surprised. It’s not an easy decision of course, but he still needs to make the hero call here.

As for the villains, we mainly focus on the Tumbler. He’s not half bad although you can’t help but feel like he is just Batroc by another name. His agility lets him take on guys like Captain America, but I can’t see him lasting too long otherwise. The Moon villain was more of a threat and he was someone that I could take a lot more seriously. He had super strength, speed, and intangibility. I think he could also teleport. Captain America and the others really couldn’t beat him during the issues so his fans must be thrilled. He gave the issues some more stakes as this was a villain that they couldn’t beat with brute force alone. I also liked the design.

We also have the corrupt politician. He wasn’t quite as fun as Godfrey, but I liked him all the same. He did a good job of stringing everyone along in his plot. The Secret Empire members also weren’t bad although most of them weren’t actual characters. It is interesting how Hydra created so many splinter groups. It really is a dangerous organization in that sense since every major villain group seems to be connected to them in some way or other. I’m trying to figure out who the politician who destroyed himself was since it obviously rattled Cap. On one hand, I want to say that it was the President, but I suppose that would be a little too bold. Whoever it was, I still wonder why it would break Cap. Maybe they’ll say it in a future comic or maybe they won’t.

The art was certainly on point. Everyone was in their ironic costumes and it was easy to go from page to page. Everything was sharp and this comic has aged incredibly well in that respect. I breezed through the issues as a result. Good art can certainly make a difference in a comic. Now, this review may have been on the negative side as I just had a lot of logic issues with the whole thing, but it was a fun comic. If anything, it just reinforces to me that the Marvel characters are still a lot meaner than the DC ones. They doubt each other and change sides at the flip of a hat. That hasn’t really changed much over the years.

That said, the adventures were still fun to follow. Seeing Cap have to break out of jail and steal stuff was pretty interesting. The team up with the X-Men was a lot of fun as well and I hadn’t been expecting that. It was also interesting to see the X-Men in their extremely old costumes while everyone else looked quite a bit more modern. I believe their was a plot reason for that, but it was a fun contrast. I would have liked to have seen Cyclops do a little better in the fights, but this wasn’t exactly his rodeo.

Overall, It’s been a while since I read a Captain America comic. In many respects he was portrayed well as he takes command of the situation and always walks around with a strut. That being said, his self doubts and general disregard for everyone else could be a little extreme. The Falcon was certainly extreme and maybe it was just the writer who didn’t really understand the characters. It can make the issues funny in an ironic way as you wonder why everyone is acting this way, but it is certainly entertaining through and through. There are no objectionable scenes in the comic and it never drops a random animal scene or anything else to worry about. It’s just a fun action adventure and you can’t ask for much more than that. I’d recommend checking out this comic and you may look at Captain America in a whole different way.

Overall 7/10