Black Panther Review

Introduced in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther returns in his first solo outing. It is also 18th feature in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Despite being ten years old and that many films under its belt, Black Panther adds new elements. This will be the first black superhero film under this franchise with a primarily black cast and black director. Monumental on many levels that cannot be understated. But how does the film actually fare?

Black Panther Okoye Nakia.jpg

Black Panther picks up literally a week after the events of Civil War. T’Challa is set to become the king of his country but that does not come easily. Not only dealing with his own uncertainties as a king but from outside forced. Ulysses Klaue and the mysterious Erik “Killmonger” Stevens stand as serious threats. A question posed in the film is that is a tough for a good man for to be a good king.

This is arguably the MCU’s most political film. There is much discussion on race relations, borders, isolationism, how much nations should help others, the good of the few versus the good of the many. It doesn’t get bogged down in any of this but the film never loses this element. Just because the main character dresses as a cat, there is a very important reason as to why. It also doesn’t present any of these issues as having easy answers.


Chadwick Boseman returns as T’Challa/Black Panther. He’s always a solid actor but unfortunately he gets lost in the shuffle. This is more due to the nature of his character. The audience does get to see many sides of him such as the stoic king, warrior, big brother, lover and even sometimes trickster. He is the anchor that everything revolves around and will be nice to see where he takes the character in further installments.

Black Panther movie cast

The supporting cast is astounding. Danai Gurira as Okoye, the general of the Dora Milaje oozes charisma. She does not play the generic badass. We see many sides of her that was somewhat unexpected. Lupita Nyong’o as Nakai, a spy for Wakanda and former lover of T’Challa brings a grounded element. Since she is much more world travelled than many Wakandans, she brings a different element to the film. Letitia Wright plays Shuri, the younger sister to T’Challa. The brightest mind in the MCU who starts out as support and comic relief but shows how she is much more than that.

Winston Duke as M’Baku was the biggest surprise. Based on the Man-Ape (which of course they don’t acknowledge), he could have been a generic antagonist. Instead he brings different layers to his character despite limited screen time. Forest Whitaker is solid as ever. as Zuri, the spiritual advisor in Wakanda. Daniel Kaluuya also has a small but important and poignant role as T’Challa’s best friend, W’Kabi. Kaluuya shows how great of an actor he is with just simple looks. Angela Bassett doesn’t get a ton of screen time as Queen Ramonda, but she makes the most of it with hints to a layered past. Andy Serkis returns as Klaue and you can tell he is having a blast playing the scene chewing character. Martin Freeman reprises his role as Everett Ross from Civil War and we learn a lot more about the character and his growing relationship with T’Challa.

Erik Killmonger.png

The standout is certainly Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger. Bringing out a realism not seen before in an MCU film. A man with justifiable anger but who has let that anger consume him. Whenever he is on the screen, you pay attention to what he says and does. The only knock is that he is introduced early on but disappears a good chunk before reappearing. This is Jordan’s third feature film with Coogler and one can’t help but think that this helped both the character and actor.

Ryan Coogler

This is director Ryan Coogler’s third feature film and he also co-wrote it. Though it is in the MCU, he does bring his own voice to the film. That really has been the standard for the MCU in Phase 3 and it has been the better for it. His first film, Fruitvale Station, was a low budget drama. His second film, Creed, had a higher budget but still kept the drama and great boxing scenes. Black Panther is the culmination as it is a high budget filled but never forgets the character moments even intermixed with the action scenes. Able to squeeze out these great moments that help the film not become too fantastical. It would be a crime if Marvel Studios did not sign Coogler up for a sequel to this.

The music within the film is fantastic. Being set in an African nation, there is of course many types of African music played throughout. One of the standout moments is the coronation scene. Then there is the soundtrack which is filled with hip hop. A less polished movie would not know how to integrate this. So instead of coming off like a bad music video, it worked effortlessly with the film.

The visual effects is where the film gets a little wonky. The introduction to Wakanda is one of the most visually breathtaking scenes in the film. But as the film goes on, the effects get less polished. The final action is the most egregious. A battle between two computer created men in cat suits. It doesn’t damn the film in any sort of major way. But it seems like they could have gone through another pass through render.

Overall, Black Panther is a great entry into the MCU. It explores a new avenue that will presumably help carry the franchise forward. The cast and crew brought their A game to the film and it shows. Nothing seemed phoned in and pride oozes through the screen that is infectious. It is a highly recommended film.


SCORE: 9.5/10



Thor: Ragnarok Review

Thor: Ragnarok is the third Thor film and the seventeenth entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Needless to say, the Thor movies are probably the more divisive films in the MCU. While the first Thor movie is generally well received. The Dark World is considered by many to be the worst entry in the franchise. While part of the Avengers, Thor is something of an afterthought. So now Thor is back with his third film and this time he brought along his fellow Avenger, The Incredible Hulk, with him. How does it fare?


It is certainly the best Thor film but that is some faint praise. After the events of Age of Ultron, Thor went searching in the cosmos for more information about the Infinity Stones. This film picks up with him captured and casually dismissing what he left for. Quickly shifting things back to Thor events, Thor learns about Loki impersonating Odin and then the two brothers go searching for their father but ran afoul of Hela, the Goddess of Death. Things quickly shift again with Thor and Loki ended up stranded on planet Sakaar where The Hulk now resides but under the thumb of The Grandmaster. If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it was. It does feel like two distinct films smashed into one that doesn’t fully come together.

Taika Waititi, known mostly for comedic films, takes control of this Thor movie and it is a distinctly different Thor movie. It has been touted as a comedy and while there are a lot of comedic elements, it rang more as an adventure romp than a comedy. The comedy was better in this film than this year’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 but it took the wind out of a lot of stakes. Thor and Loki will have a dramatic conversation about their broken relationship and then a joke. This happens a lot in the film that it makes it hard to really care about some of the going ons.


Chris Hemsworth returns as Thor and probably gives his best performance. They do deliver more of the comedic elements of the actor but he does have dramatic moments to help balance out. It is also better to have Thor take more charge of things instead of being at the whims of others. Tom Hiddleston returns as Loki and the character is the butt monkey of the movie. The studio doesn’t want him to be the villain that he was but know he can’t be forgiven or trusted so he is constantly getting belittled. Cate Blanchett comes in as Hela and is a basic MCU villain. If the actress wasn’t so charismatic, the character would one note. Tessa Thompson enters the franchise as Valkyrie and brings a nice new element as the enforcer for The Grandmaster with a connection to Asgard’s past. Jeff Goldblum is doing his typical Jeff Goldblum thing but in a way that is not obnoxious and still gets across the potential menace of his character. Idris Elba probably gets the most to do as Heimdall in this movie but it is still undeserving of the actor. Karl Urban is another actor deserving of much more as he serves a forgettable role as Skurge. Anthony Hopkins is pretty much a non entity as Odin. Mark Ruffalo gets his most to do since taking over the role of Bruce Banner/Hulk. Hulk is now a talking character and akin to a toddler while Banner shows a different side to him. There are some interesting questions brought up about the Banner/Hulk dynamic that will hopefully carry over to the upcoming Avengers films.


Ragnarok is probably the most beautiful looking MCU film. There are bright colors and gorgeous looking sets. Even though Sakaar is a trash planet, there are some great looking designs. This is our third time seeing Asgard and it is a still a sight to see. The only questionable looking scene is one set on Earth at Norway. It is obvious that it was a reshoot with the shoddy CGI background that takes away some of the gravitas taking place during the scene.


Overall, Thor: Ragnarok is a very good film. I will not say that it is great. It works as a soft reboot to the Thor character. It will be interesting to see where they take the character past this film. But as a whole, it’s a solid but heavily flawed film where the cracks become noticeable the more you think about it. The biggest problem coming out is, you still really have no idea who Thor is. Marvel Studios has dropped the ball with this character and franchise.

SCORE: 8/10

Iron Fist Returns in Luke Cage Season 2

Say what you will about the Iron Fist character on television and there is a lot to say. But one of the highlights of The Defenders was the interaction between Luke Cage and Iron Fist. The big brother/little brother dynamic that they had was great. Since the release of The Defenders, it has been a little vague on how the Netflix shows were going to proceed afterwards. The second season of Jessica Jones does not look to feature any of other Defenders. So it’s nice to see Luke Cage continuing threads from that series. Possible lead up to a Heroes for Hire? Luke does need a job after all. The big question is…what brings Danny Rand to Harlem?

Marvel’s The Punisher Trailer Takeaway

It should be noted from the get go that I am not the biggest fan of The Punisher. Personally, the character works best for me in guest appearances and limited series. I have never been able to tolerate reading an ongoing Punisher book for more than six months. So when The Punisher was announced as getting his inevitable Netflix series after a recurring role in the second season of Daredevil, I was just “meh” about it. I’m really not sure as to what they can do with the character for thirteen episodes. So the trailer came out today and it really did nothing for me.

  • We see more of Frank’s life before his family was killed. It seems to be retconning the events of Frank’s family being murdered. Either that or he might be hallucinating and mixing things up. There are some definite Max Payne vibes here.
  • Apparently there is a conspiracy around Frank and why his family was murdered. This was one of my major criticisms surrounding The Punisher in Daredevil. Instead of simply just making Frank’s family victims in a random act of violence, there has to be this whole thing going on behind the scenes. It seems to unnecessarily complicate things.
  • Karen Page is back and I’m no fan of that character. Constantly chastising Matt Murdock for being secretive yet always defending Frank Castle, a known mass murderer, who even tells her point blank not to defend him.
  • There are scenes of the actor who plays Micro. I’m not the biggest fan of Micro but hey Frank has to have some sort of supporting cast to talk to.
  • A lot of the imagery shows that Frank is definitely a disturbed individual, which is appreciated.

I still don’t get a sense as to what this show is going to be about. What the overarching story of the season is. I know that an actor has been cast as the man who will become Jigsaw. But who knows? That could be something that happens in the last scene of the last episode. I’m not too excited for the show but I’ll give it a fair shake.

Thor: Ragnarok Character Portraits Released

With tickets going on sale today for the November release, Disney released these characters portraits for the major characters

Chris Hemsworth Thor Odinson
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Mark Ruffalo The Incredible Hulk
Mark Ruffalo as The Incredible Hulk


Tessa Thompson Valkyrie
Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie
Tom Hiddleston Loki
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Cate Blanchett Hela
Cate Blanchett as Hela
Idris Elba Heimdall
Idris Elba as Heimdall
Anthony Hopkins Odin
Anthony Hopkins as Odin
Jeff Goldblum The Grandmaster
Jeff Goldblum as The Grandmaster

The Defenders Has Me Anticipating Iron Fist Season Two

The Defenders has come and gone and now it is time to deal with the repercussions from the series. One in particular would have to be Danny Rand aka Iron Fist. Inspired by Daredevil’s (supposed) sacrifice, the final shot we see of Danny is a classic bait and switch. Hearing police sirens ring out and a lone figure in the shadows overlooking the city. We are at first led to believe that it is Daredevil but the figure’s fist lights up and we see that it is Iron Fist. Not only that but he is wearing a similar tracksuit to what he currently wears in the comics now.

Of course they kind of blew it with him not wearing the bandanna.

But now Danny seems to have a purpose, which is something that he was lacking in his own series. Since he is a public figure, he will no doubt have to start wearing the bandanna around his face. He did see Matt Murdock wearing it during the fight in Midland Circle. Becoming an actual hero in New York City will also give him a way to make up for not being there for K’un Lun. But there may be more to that than what has been revealed. We do know that there are forces now going out of their way to get revenge on Danny for “ruining” their lives.

There are many ways that the second season can go. That’s something that was missing from the first season. The producers also know all the problems that happened in the first season. The biggest problem with all Netflix series is that they are made in a bubble. So they cannot course correct if things are going wrong until after the series is released. I do go into the second season with trepidation but I’m not going to be down and out on the show either. I like Iron Fist and want the character to prosper and hopefully have a Heroes for Hire show down the line.

The Defenders Season One Review

Ever since 2015 and the launch of Daredevil, the Marvel Netflix universe has been slowly building towards The Defenders. A second season of Daredevil followed as well as inaugural seasons for Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Now the time has come for the four main heroes of the series to come together and take on The Hand. They are joined by a majority of their supporting cast members from their respective series to help flesh out this side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Does it succeed or does it fail?

Well this is not the same thing as The Avengers did for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact it’s a pretty underwhelming affair. The four heroes don’t even all meet up until the end of episode three. What ultimately drives the series down is a lackluster villain. The Hand has been present in both seasons of Daredevil as well as the first season of Iron Fist. Now they are front and center here with Sigourney Weaver playing the head or should I say the main finger of The Hand. Playing the steely villain who we meet as she is just learning that she is set to die in the next few months and so has to advance The Hand’s plans. Elodie Yung reprises her role as Elektra and last we left off with the character, she was dead. Needless to say, she is back and does not get to do…at first but her role ramps up as the episodes go along.


It has been a while since we’ve seen some of the main quartet that makes up The Defenders especially Jessica Jones. So the first two episodes helps to reestablish where these characters are since we last saw them. Luke Cage is being released from prison, Jessica Jones has not progressed that much, Matt Murdock has given up being Daredevil and is clearly suffering from trauma and Danny Rand is returning to New York after hunting down those responsible for K’un Lun’s disappearance. The first two episodes are unique in that each character has their background illuminated by the primary color associated with their character, i.e. Matt Murdock usually has a red background. As the characters slowly come together, the colors blend together.

This event series essentially focuses as an Iron Fist season two. Depending on how you felt about that first season, this could be a negative or positive. I was not a fan of that season but the cracks in the overall Netflix side of the MCU show in this series. It’s clear that there was no real clear plan about what would happen when this show happened. As all the loose ends from the previous seasons, don’t totally mesh with one another. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones since those two series were so separate, it is easy to plop them into a situation. But with everything we learned about The Hand from Daredevil and Iron Fist, it is a mess and doesn’t totally make sense.

The main four actors; Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil, Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, Mike Colter as Luke Cage and Finn Jones as Danny Rand/Iron Fist reprise their roles. The actors all do a fine and even one in particular do a better job in their role. Finn Jones is probably the most improved as this show is much improved and better written so he is able to match the material. His chemistry with Mike Colter is great and makes you want to see a Heroes for Hire show. The bond between the very secretive Matt Murdock and Jessica Jones, whose job is to invade people’s privacy, is also noteworthy. The four do really spark when interacting with each other.


The supporting cast for me was a little unnecessary for me. While it was nice to see some pop in and out, there seemed to be too much time. I still can’t believe Karen Page is a top reporter. The only ones who were necessary were Colleen Wing, Claire Temple and Misty Knight who basically could be considered Defenders. Special mention goes to Stick, played by Scott Glenn, who reprises his role. Playing the very pragmatic and ruthless blind man who knows more than he lets on. Stick is also an example of making things up as they go as some revelations by the character don’t really make that much sense in retrospect.

The action scenes are pretty much on par with Daredevil season two. It is cool seeing the different fighting styles in the heroes. Daredevil is a brawler with martial arts training. Iron Fist is pure martial arts. Luke Cage has fighting experience due to be a former marine and cop. Jessica Jones just relies on her super strength more than anything. When all four are in fight scenes together, it’s fun watching them mix and match. Luke Cage and Iron Fist seem to have the best fighting chemistry as they compliment one another very well.

Out of all the Netflic Marvel shows so far, this would probably be somewhere in the middle. The shorter episode count definitely helps as there is not that much padding. But the muddled plot and lackluster villains really drag down the season. It does a good job of helping to redeem Iron Fist and hopefully that wave continues into that character’s second season. The conclusion obviously helps set up the next phase (minus The Punisher) of the Netflix Marvel shows. So it does it’s job and now that the characters know one another, more crossovers would be appreciated. So it’s the end of phase one and onto phase two. The future is exciting.


SCORE: 7/10

Avengers: Infinity War Concept Art