Holy Fuck! Avengers: Endgame is finally here! I wanna say right up front that there will be absolutely NO SPOILERS in this article. However, we go into FULL SPOILERS in our deep dive review of Avengers: Endgame on this episode of The World’s Best Podcast! My Marvel Movie companion, Paul Sr. and I had a chance to see the movie a few days early, but we wanted to wait until at least some of our listeners had a chance to see the film, before we posted this SPOILER-RIFFIC review.
It so rare for movies to live up to the hype, but Endgame manages to surpass expectations. One of the many things fans love about comics, especially from DC and MARVEL, is the interconnected universes. You could be reading a Spider-Man comic and the X-Men or Iron Man or Daredevil would pop up. That was the ingredient that had been missing from superhero movies when the “Superhero Boom” began with movies like Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Singer’s X-Men.
It seems so obvious, but it was still brilliant. I remember seeing Iron Man for the first time and being blown away that SHIELD was in the movie. It seems so small now, in retrospect, but that little addition made it feel like the Marvel Universe (It was also the first appearance of fan favorite character, Agent Phil Coulson). Then of course there’s the immortal post credits scene from the first Iron Man film, when Tony meets Nick Fury which I’ve posted here below:
Building off the incredible success of IronMan and then creating 22 films that make this beautiful tapestry of a story, is mind blowing. The fact that out of the 22 films released so far, there have been so few missteps is astonishing. Even their weakest movies, and there’s only 3 or 4 like Thor: The Dark World, are pretty good or not bad at their worst. Everything else is more less gold.
The Russo Brothers, who’ve directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and now Avengers: Endgame, absolutely stuck the landing with this movie, it’s a must see. The films directed by The Russo Brothers, Joe and Anthony, aired the 4 best films in The MCU. Who would’ve thought that guys who worked on TV shows like Community would go on to tell some of the most epic stories of our generation? For the record, I loved Community.
I think the real hero in all of this is Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel Studios. He was not only a massive fan of the source material, but he’d seen what mistakes other Marvel superhero films had made in the past and learned from them. So when it was time for Marvel Studios to start producing their own films, he knew what he was doing and he got the right people involved to work with them. Another huge kudos goes out to Casting Director Sarah Finn, who’s worked on almost all of the films, if not all of them. With maybe one or two exceptions out of literally hundreds, each character was a flawlessly cast. We owe a lot to her work as the reason these films came out so well.
I know I’m late to write up my non-spoiler review for those of you who didn’t get a chance to head out to theatres to see Black Panther this weekend. So lets dive right in!
Black Panther takes place a few weeks (maybe a month) after the events of Captain America: Civil War and T’Challa (Black Panther) is still mourning the death of his father King T’Chaka (played by character actor John Kani, who was in one of my all time favorite movies, The Ghost and The Darkness). So, only a few weeks have gone by between the events of that film and the beginning on Black Panther. At this point, when we see T’Challa played by the incredible Chadwick Boseman, he’s still mourning the death of his father, but he has a responsibility to his country. The traditions of Royal Succession must be observed. Of the 5 (I think?) tribes within Wakanda, during a time designed for transition of monarchy, can challenge T’Challa for the right to the throne. His Black Panther powers are temporarily taken away and in a absolutely gorgeous waterfall setting, T’Challa faces M’Baku of the Mountain Gorilla tribe for the right to be king. The loser either is killed or submits, T’Challa defeats M’Baku through submission and gains a crucial ally later in the film.
The design, technology, and world of Wakanda is beyond my wildest hopes. It is stunning. Wakanda is unlike anything we have ever seen in a Marvel movie before. Or even a superhero movie at all for that matter. The imagination, production design, and costuming are all stunning.
The cast is phenomenal as well. With Michael B. Jordan turning in (no surprise) on of the best villain performances in a Marvel movie so far. He is a man on a mission. He’s single minded and terrifying. The man is absolutely not fucking around. T’Challa didn’t really understand the man he was dealing with when he first faced Jordan’s Killmonger. Andy Serkis also delivers a fun performance as classic B-LIST Marvel villain, Klaw. Some people might not to want their arms cut off, but considering he got a pretty bad ass laser arm canon to replace, pit I’d say he got a pretty good trade off after Ultron cut his arm off in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Angela Basset, Martin Freeman, and Forrest Whitakerer also turn in small, but memorable roles. Of the 3, Martin Freeman probabaly has the most to do as CIA Agent Everett Ross in a big step up from his nothing role in Civil War. He’s actually an a semi-important character here. Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira are both fantastic as missionary / T’Challa’s love interest and The Head of The Wakandan Military respectively. I even say that Okoye, Danai Gurira’s character could easily hold her own with The Avengers and something tells me she’s going to need those skills pretty soon.
But beside T’Challa, by far my favorite character was his sister Shuri. She was pretty much the worlds coolest little sister. I really hope there is a scene in one of the future Avengers: Infinity War movies where she completely schools Tony Stark if he sees her laboratory and she just puts him to complete shame. She’s a technological genius who supplies for Brother with some of the coolest toys in the movie, Shur’s one of the most fun characters to watch. Just like Bucky and Sam Wilson become Captain America in the comics at one point, Shuri eventually becomes Black Panther. So that could be a cool way to go in future movies
Warching this film you can’t help but think of Avengers: Infnity War. Avengers: Infinity War is technically 2 parts, with part 1 coming out in a few weeks on May 4, with part 2 coming exactly a year later (like we used to see with Lord of The Rings). I really think that when the dust settles after Part 2, a lot of “old school” Marvel characters will gone or dead. Permanently. After seeing this film, I see T’Challa as someone who could easily fill the role in the team left by a potentially absent Captain America. He could be the heart and the rock that Cap is now.
Many of the Marvel films have obvious weaknesses that hurt an otherwise really entertaining film. There is this substance to this film that you don’t often see in superhero movies like this. You’ll walk out of the theater asking questions and having discussions and debates. That’s a certainly good thing when our mainstream entertainment provides us with thought-provoking material. Director Ryan Coogler has absolutely knocked this one out of the park. Black Panther is absolutely one of those must see movies. It really is just a phenomenal movie, I can’t recommend it enough.
Note:I saw this movie with my father and he gave a grade that was between 1 and 10 (10 the best, 1 the worst). Just to keep things interesting I’ll make my review a letter grade.
Marvel’s Black Panther
Paul Sr. ( My Dad): 9.5
Me, Paul Jr.: A-
Note: On our original spoiler podcast for Black Panther, I give the movie a full A. But after thinking about it a little bit, an A letter grade should be reserved for the best of best. The absolute upper echelon of what Marvel has to offer. There is no doubt that this is an excellent film and one of my favorites from the MCU but I wanted to make that small change.
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