Ahead of its release on February 16th, the embargo on Black Panther lifted today, allowing reviewers to share their full thoughts on Marvel's latest superhero flick. Similar to what we saw from initial social reactions, the first wave of reviews have been extremely positive. In fact, with 56 reviews accumulated, the film holds a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.6 out of 10 average score (note that that figure is still likely to fluctuate as the film nears wide release, but is impressively nonetheless).
So what makes Black Panther so great? Here's a sampling of what critics are saying (sidenote: check out our own Jeremiah's review here):
First, Deadline's Pete Hammond praised director Ryan Coogler's balancing of the film's ensemble:
It is remarkable how Coogler (who also wrote the script with Joe Robert Cole) has been able to give all these many characters, and others, their own story arc and weave them all together in masterful fashion... This is a superhero movie for the ages, and especially for this age.
Speaking of Coogler, the Associated Press's Jack Coyle compared the film to the director's Creed in one area, saying:
There are familiar Marvel beats here. Just as he did in the surprisingly sensational Rocky reboot Creed, Coogler hasn't reinvented the genre so much as electrified it with a new perspective and a rare talent for marrying naturalistic character development with spectacle muscle.
Meanwhile, in his B+ review of the film, IndieWire's David Ehrlich reflected on what sets Black Panther apart from previous Marvel entries:
It’s the first one of these films that flows with a genuine sense of culture and identity, memory and musicality. It’s the first one of these films that doesn’t merely reckon with power and subjugation in the abstract, but also gives those ideas actual weight by grafting them onto specific bodies and confronting the historical ways in which they’ve shaped our universe.
Liz Braun of the Toronto Sun also put the film above others in the MCU, saying:
Black Panther is every bit as good as you were hoping. Actually -- it's better. A terrific screenplay from Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole elevates this thing way beyond the usual boundaries of the Marvel Universe.
Giving the film 4.5 out of 5 stars, Wilson Morales of BlackFilm.com wrote:
Everything you wanted to see in this film, from the characters, the story, the action scenes, the costume designs, and the production values are firing on all cylinders.
The Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan — who calls the movie a "royally imaginative standout" in his headline, had this to say about the film:
With dialogue that deftly explores serious questions, such as how much if anything do wealthy countries owe the poor and oppressed of the world, "Black Panther" draws energy from Coogler's sense of excitement at all he's attempting. The result is a superhero movie that's worth seeing twice, and that is a rare sighting indeed.
In one of the more critical reviews so far, Nerdist's Marc Bernardin noted:
The screenplay (by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole) has trouble finding ways to emotionally engage with the character, all the way through to an action climax whose humanity is outweighed by its CGI... As a nerd and as a black man, I’ve been waiting for this movie for my entire life, whether I knew it or not. The fact that Black Panther gets so much right, but one crucial thing wrong, is both thrilling and maddening.
Finally, awarding the film a 5 out of 5, Jamie Broadnax of Black Girl Nerds concluded:
It’s everything I’ve ever desired in a live-action version of this popular superhero and yet so much more. Quite frankly, the experience is indescribable. I left the theater wanting to see this movie at least 10 more times. I already know that Black Panther‘s weight in gold at the box office will be in repeat viewings, because we just won’t want this cinematic experience to end.
Marvel's Black Panther hits theatres February 16th.