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.

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Posted by Kelly Konda

Grew up obsessing over movies and TV shows. Worked in a video store. Minored in film at college because my college didn't offer a film major. Worked in academia for a while. Have been freelance writing and running this blog since 2013.

4 Comments

  1. It bears repeating: The whole notion of the Comic Book movie going the way of the western (or the pirate movie for that matter) is a flawed idea from the get go because those are very, very limited genres. There is only so much you can do in a genre which has a very specific setting and a very specific set of tropes – which is true even more so for the pirate genre than for the western genre, but in its big days, there were hundreds of western made every year, we are currently talking about around 20 Superhero movies in any given year.

    In a way, the Superhero genre is exactly what people keep demanding: A mountain of untapped material which is worth exploring. God knows that those Hollywood executives really should bother to sit down and read a little bit more, if they did, they would encounter a lot of original ideas which might make a good movie.

    Reply

    1. This is maybe a perception vs. Reality scenario since the perception that the superhero genre is like the western and fated to die if it doesn’t drastically change seems more real to some people than the reality of the wider range of storytelling possibilities available to Hollywood from comic books and the generally lower number of actual superhero movies compared to the number of westerns at the genre’s height.

      Reply

  2. Trailer looks good and I truly want to support Black superhero of African status. But I do also feel Marvel magic s wearing off and they are scraping the barrel a bit. I am hoping I am wrong.

    Reply

    1. I certainly encounter a bit of Marvel movie fatigue of my own last year when I struggled to get into Doctor Strange, but what I like about Black Panther thus far is that plotwise it doesn’t clearly adhere to something we’ve already seen before from Marvel or this genre. Doctor Strange was largely Iron Man with magic, but Black Panther is kind of doing its own thing.

      Reply

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