Marvel Knights: Black Panther

PLOT:

The first full six episodes of the series have been aired on Australia’s ABC3. In North America, the six episodes were planned to be split in two making a total of twelve episodes.However, only three episodes were released before the show was removed from online stores.

  • Episode 1: In a top-secret Washington meeting, Intelligence Agent Everett Ross briefs the government on the history of the Black Panther, the warrior king of the African nation, Wakanda. Meanwhile on the other side of the world, Prince T’Challa wins an annual Wakanda tournament, and becomes the Black Panther. Meanwhile, a disastrous man machine hybrid is built.
  • Episode 2: Having been crowned the new Black Panther, T’Challa must contend with jealousy in the royal court while searching for the man who murdered his father. Unbeknownst to him, a deadly assassin named Klaw is assembling a team of super-villains to attack Wakanda.
  • Episode 3: A young T’Challa travels to Egypt and encounters Storm of the X-Men. While preparing to attack Wakanda, Klaw recalls how he assassinated the previous Black Panther.
  • Episode 4: Juggernaut and the Black Knight spearhead the attack on Wakanda, and the Black Panther learns the truth about his father’s murder.
  • Episode 5: With Wakanda under siege from Klaw’s team of super-villains, the Black Panther confronts the Black Knight in aerial combat; Princess Shuri must defend herself against the deadly Radioactive Man.
  • Episode 6: Klaw has taken control of Wakanda, and the Black Panther races against time to save his nation from destruction.

REVIEW:

Finally, a movie about the Black Panther! Wait, this isn’t a movie…it’s actually a 6-episode series that apparently aired on BET. I knew it was too good to be true. However, if you watch these episodes back to back, it plays out just like a movie. Best we’re gonna get right now, I’m afraid.

These episodes area bit of an origin tale of one of the, I don’t want to say obscure…lesser known is probably the better term…characters in the Marvel universe. While not being the exact origin, at least the one that I am familiar with, for those that aren’t necessarily familiar with this character, it is a good introduction.

One of the great things about this series has to be the theme song. It seems to be a lost art these days to have a great theme. I think the only current memorable theme is the song for The Big Bang Theory. Now, while you won’t leave humming the theme to Black Panther, it is well written and fits the tone of the show and the way they portray his character.

The voice casting is almost perfect. Djimon Hounsou is perfect as T’Challah. If they were to ever get off their asses and make a Black Panther movie (rather than needless reboots of characters like Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, etc…and a strange, unnecessary prequel to the X-Men), he would be perfect. Alfre Woodard and Kerry Washington really sell their parts well. I’m not really sold on Jill Scott as Storm, nor the performances of Adrian Pasdar and Kevin Michael Richardson as Captain America and Wolverine, respectively, but given their limited time on the screen, I’ll let it slide.

The story here in the best thing about this DVD. It is one of the better superhero plots I’ve seen in quite some time, but with the good, comes the bad.

If you’re expecting traditional, hand-drawn animation, you’re going to be greatly disappointed. Marvel Knights: Black Panther uses motion comic animation. Some people like this, but I am not a fan. To me, this is just a lazy way of doing things. On the other hand, at least they did actually animate the characters a little, rather than have them move like cardboard cutouts, as in the Jonah Hex feature of Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam DVD. Had they done that, I’d be ready to go postal on these so-called “animators”.

There is a bit of the plot that never made sense to me. It it possible that I just missed the explanation, but I am not a fan of the way America just wanted to invade, er, assist Wakanda. I know this is supposed to be a bit of an exaggeration and all, but they could have at least given a reason. What made it worse is that they kept going back to that war room meeting and it just confuses the audience more and more. I could go off on some political tangent here, but I won’t. Just know that this was not one of my favorite aspects of the story.

Character design is hit or miss with me. The heroes are mainly hit, but the villains…not so much. For starters, Klaw is supposed to have blue skin. Now, in this continuity, that may be different, but I’d have prefered the classic Klaw. On the flipside, this version of Batroc was better than the version I know from the comics, and it was good to have the good old, classic Juggernaut, but did they really have to keep trying to shoehorn in his line from X-Men: The Last Stand? You know the line, “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!”

Many familiar faces from the Marvel universe appear here, such as the Captain America (as I mentioned before) and the X-Men, especially Storm. You may remember the meeting between Cap and the Panther from Ultimate Avengers 2. This time around, though, I think they showed it closer to what actually happened in the comic. That isn’t my complaint, though.

I have issue with the way the X-Men were portrayed as more or less comic relief in the brief scenes they appeared. Something just wasn’t right about that. I know that they were doing everything they can to pump up the Panther and all, but last I checked, Cyclops wasn’t the joking type, neither was Wolverine. Nightcrawler, I can accept, though.

My final beef with this film is why was it on BET? Someone said that Luke Cage fit more into the BET atmosphere than Black Panther. From what I know about him, I’m inclined to agree. Just because Black Panther is African doesn’t mean he belongs on BET. On top of that, from my friends that do almost nothing but watch BET, this never aired here in the US, but only in Australia. What’s up with that?!?

I have to admit that while this was really a lot better than I was led to believe it would be, the animation is such a huge turnoff for me that I almost didn’t finish watching! That point aside, it is always good to get some new blood, if you will, out there in the superhero community. There is only so much that can be done with the usual suspects. Hopefully, this will open up the door for lesser knowns such as She-Hulk, Alpha Flight, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Moon Knight, and Sub-Mariner, just to name a few. So, is this worth watching? Well, for me it is above average, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it again, but, yes, it is worth the 2 hrs to watch all 6 episodes…if you can get past the motion comic animation.

3 out of 5 stars

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5 thoughts on “Marvel Knights: Black Panther

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