Rated Greg’s Top 5 Superhero Villains
- The Joker (Heath Ledger) – The Dark Knight
- The Joker (Jack Nicholson) – Batman
- Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) – Black Panther
- Bane (Tom Hardy) – The Dark Knight Rises
Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) – Batman Returns
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been around for ten years and eighteen movies. This Disney-owned filmography is the steadiest bet in the business in terms of box office success and fresh tomato scores. It’s resurrected defunct A-listers, established new ones, and provided some of the best jokes of the 2010’s. But if there’s one thing it’s consistently lacked throughout its run, something the other superhero franchises have been much better at, it’s producing a great villain….until now! Plain and simple, Michael B. Jordan’s “Killmonger” is THAT DUDE in Black Panther. No disrespect to the hero T’Challa, but I was definitely rooting for MBJ in this movie and something tells me I’m not alone. His slowly revealed ideology really does make a compelling argument against the protagonist’s altruistic vision. You could genuinely feel the packed theater begin to rally behind him, although that might at least be partially due to the fact that there was a collective GASP in the crowd the moment Jordan takes his shirt off (I didn’t see Magic Mike in the theater, but I imagine it was a similar sensation).
So Black Panther has a great villain. It’s other best asset is just a great story. It’s certainly more moving than the plots of the other Marvel movies, most of which revolve around capturing those dumbass magical stones, and you don’t even need to be familiar with the the rest of the series to understand what’s going on. The 134 minutes of Black Panther is probably one the best allegories to a tumultuous cultural climate you’ll see in a film this year, superhero movie or not. A subset of non-superhero fans flocked to the theaters last summer for Wonder Woman because it represented a moment. Making $200 million dollars over 3 days, the same thing is happening with Black Panther.
While the screenplay of Black Panther sets itself apart, unfortunately much of the CGI-fueled action scenes look like more of the same. That’s the only knock I have against the movie. Beautiful, talented actors in one frame changing into cartoonish, digital versions of themselves in the next frame in order to punch a green screen adversary. It’s just what superhero movies are at this point. Shit like that has a tendency to dull the weight of everything else going on. I just wish more directors would go the Christopher Nolan route and rely on stunt doubles during fight sequences rather than post-production CGI. But what are you gonna do? Finding nitpicks in Black Panther is not a worthy cause, especially by me, white person.
As far as I can tell, this is the first ever mega budget blockbuster with an almost* all black cast. Who the hell am I to say what’s wrong with it? I just can’t relate to not be seeing faces like mine literally all the damn time in big movies (watching white people do stuff with each other on the big screen is so common that you would never even register their race as an aspect of the movie when describing it to someone). So I gather that there’s a higher level of appreciation for Black Panther that’s reserved only for the under-represented communities. I dug it too though. Grade: B+
*I got $10 saying Martin Freeman’s entire arc was conceived by a studio note and not by writer/director Ryan Coogler.