[Spoilers for Black Panther]
I keep thinking about how awesome Black Panther is, but how its final fight doesn’t even come close to doing the rest of the movie justice.
Black Panther has some fantastic action scenes and sequences (just think about the casino or that car chase in South Korea). And we know it can do close combat fights well: first, T’Challa and M’Baku, then the emotionally charged challenge between T’Challa and Killmonger at Warrior Falls for the kingship. But unfortunately, the film fizzled for me in the final T’Challa/Killmonger battle.
Set on a vibranium-powered train’s twisty tracks, removed from the rest of Wakanda’s vibrant backdrop and plunged under the ground in darkness, the scene felt contrived and uninspired. The train seemed unnecessary and only there to add an element of drama that felt melodramatic to me instead of nerve-racking.
The “men” fighting were so obviously CGI’d that the stakes seemed lowered, and the train’s loops, threatening their combat, seemed made for the benefit of a Black Panther video game more than anything else.
While the end result of the fight—T’Challa and Erik and the sunset—is a scene that I will never forget, their final battle was unworthy of this incredible movie, and that’s a shame.
Unfortunately, crappy climactic fight scenes come all too often in superhero movies (I think television often gets it better, or maybe those battles just feel more resonant because we’ve taken longer to build up to it).
The nearly flawless Wonder Woman almost lost the thread entirely with its mess of a showdown between Diana and Ares. The Thor/Hela matchup in Ragnarok wasn’t all too thrilling either, at least until Thor gains control of his lightning power and blasts the hell out of everyone, at which point it became awesome (“Immigrant Song” playing in the background never hurts). The Guardians of the Galaxy 2 final fight is kind of a chaotic mess until Yondu fixes everything and makes everyone cry.
My favorite final fight it probably the one between Steve and Bucky in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, because it’s so brutal and feels so personal, but that ends when Bucky hesitates to kill, followed by Steve falling out of the Helicarrier. I also love the end of Jessica Jones season 1, though that’s not so much of a traditional physical battle so much as a battle of wills.
So what’s the right way to do it? Has there been a superhero showdown onscreen that left you breathless and genuinely wondering how the hero or heroes would pull it off? All movies and TV are game here.
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