Black Panther ★★★★★

Uses the American/African divide(s) for a complex missive about what you can understand and what you can't, what you can do and what you can't. Of course I'm going to be a total sucker for Ryan Coogler's unsubtle fusion of superheroes and James Bond and, yes, Rocky--but more than that is his unsubtle reminder of how those properties can reflect, have reflected colonial attitudes and actions: an artist citing his influences, talking about what he loves and loathes about the same concepts; the world that birthed you and the world that molded you. ("Well, look what I've done.") It follows in Black Panther's treatment of the MCU--the jejune manner it leans on Civil War before it starts revealing character motivations and mistakes, rendering that connection moot; and the first running gag--"don't freeze"--is Whedonian bullshit, where the rest of the humor lands right on target. But even that deep, reflexive consideration dips into the darker end of why you don't understand. The way Coogler presents Serkis's Klaw, a mannequin joke-character turned into a Get Out unto himself, a composite image of white supremacy and tone-deaf fascination with "the culture." ("Please, don't make me listen to your music.") But again, Coogler compares and equates cultures--sees the same impacts that are being made by comics and countries alike. "Killmonger," a nonsense superhero soap-name that, in these hands, becomes the expression of a collective sin--a bitter and sarcastic reduction of these last fifteen years, these last twenty-five, these last hundred, these last four hundred: where we have all been, and where I have not. Perhaps Martin Freeman must look away, but Jordan's parting words are the damning epitaph about how "consideration" will only get you so far.