The superhero film is at risk of going the way of the western, puttering off to second-tier status (and worse, eventually) due to overexposure and the unyielding monotony of seeing the same old story time and time again.
Or at least that’s been the debatable argument made by the internet for the past couple of years.
Then Guardians of the Galaxy happened.
Hold on, now. These movies can be space operas?
Then Deadpool happened.
WTF? These movies can be R-Rated meta-comedies?
Then Logan happened.
What the deuce? These movies can be art, and not just good but Oscar-good?
Then Wonder Woman happened.
I am woman, hear me roar, in Amazonian gear too powerful to ignore.
You get the general idea. For the genre to survive it needs to evolve and advance beyond the same ole, same ole. Sometimes the change is small (and maybe not nearly big enough), such as doing yet another Spider-Man movie but this time skipping the origin story and finally letting him play with other Marvel characters like Iron Man. Other times the change is, well, it’s Black Panther:
What the heck did I just watch?
Okay. The teaser’s not actually that foreign to the superhero genre. There are shot of the hero in full costume flipping about acrobatically much in the way we’ve already seen before (in this case, in the Civil War chase scene). There are hints of villains, such as Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger and Andy Serkis as Ulsses Klaue, the latter of whom may or may not have been caught on purpose to stage a dramatic prison breakout. In general, there are glimpses of any number of characters who will be known to comic book readers and/or anyone whose followed the movie’s production history but are just intriguing mysteries to everyone else.
But there’s a utopia with advanced technology hidden in Africa?
There’s a protagonist who is a good man but too good to serve as a king, seemingly flanked by usurpers?
There’s a rap song playing underneath it all, and a cast almost entirely made up of black actors?
Ant-Man‘s Peyton Reed is sure excited:
This movie won’t arrive until February 16, 2018, but when it does it has a chance to be another Wonder Woman-like cultural event, the superhero genre finally catching up with the call for diversity and giving the world another embarassingly delayed first, in this case the first black superhero movie. Of course, plot-wise Wonder Woman is not that drastically different from what’s come before, with strands of First Avenger, Thor, Donner’s Superman and even Disney princess movies sewn together. However, the mere fact that it is led by a woman is enough to make it new and trascendent, at least for certain audiences. Black Panther, on the other hand, I don’t know if its plot is going to be so easily comparable to what we’ve seen before, and its Africa-set visuals are certainly unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in this genre.
But, frankly, I don’t need any of that to be excited. I was in the bag for this movie the moment they hired Ryan Coogler to direct it. Look what he did to energize the tired old boxing genre in Creed. Now watch him do the same thing for the superhero movie with Black Panther.
What about you? What do you think of this Black Panther teaser? Let me know in the comments.