Pretty good superhero movie, though despite all the fighting and classic hero vs villain conflict, it feels like the least superhero superhero movie I’ve seen recently. By making its main plot thrust informed by race issues, but unlike many other movies actually having mainly POC appear, it feels more current than most Marvel movies, even if it remains strongly in the realm of fantasy.
The first time I saw Wakanda for real, my first thought was, how do the economics of that state would even work with almost no contact to the outside world. We didn’t see any manufacturing facilities and all the stuff, right down to basics like bolts or gears, had to be manufactured locally. That’s obvious cherry-picking, I admit.
I never had that problem with say Thor’s Asgard, because that place is so obviously fantasy that I did expect it work at all in the first place. That I did expect this from Wakanda shows that its both fantasy and yet felt more real than other made-up places, because its one I wanted to buy in. An African high-tech nation that has been hidden from the world for ages and hasn’t felt the touch of colonization, damn that’s cool.
The biggest problem the movie has is how Killmonger is written. It’s never quite clear whether he wants to wage war on the rest of the world, just sow chaos in Wakanda or does all just to get revenge on those that have wronged him. It’s very human to have multiple agenda where you’re yourself not quite sure what you want, but here it feels more like the writers wanted to have their cake and it eat too. A villain with a point (Wakanda should do more) but whose entire plan is so obviously flawed from the start that even the most clueless viewers will recognize it.
Killmonger is just too murder-happy and generally over-the-top bad that you never really feel that anybody in Wakanda (or the audience) will really root for him or follow his arguments, its just traditions and fear that keeps them in line (with the exception of rhino guy). A Killmonger with more subtle and realistic goals would have felt like a far bigger threat, especially since Killmonger is basically the progressive to Black Panther’s conservative stance (though part of his hero’s journey was to move toward the progressive stance at the end) and could have easily morphed into a left martyr role (which would have left a bigger and more dangerous legacy than just dying pointlessly).