[NOTE: After some delays in obtaining a review copy, here is the review of the Black Panther animated series. Mania apologizes for the inconvenience. ]
Black Entertainment Television (BET) did a Black Panther animated series – written by long-time Panther fan, comic book geek, and former BET president Reginald Hudlin – which is based on the first six issues of the fourth volume of the character’s eponymous monthly title that Hudlin also wrote (John Romita, Jr. provided the artwork).
The Panther’s origin is modernized for a new audience in an effort to attract new fans. Reviewers criticized Hudlin’s approach because the Panther has never been a marquee character.
However, Hudlin’s story lends itself well to this movie to elicit a new audience, which is done as a stop motion comic that’s based on the art of Romita. The music is appropriate for the Panther as it is a Bantu-based style created by composer Stephen James Taylor as Hudlin insisted in the commentary that he didn’t want to have orchestra music – he wanted the music to sound Wakandan.
The actors are either right for the parts or they’re not – there’s no in between. Djimon Hounsou (The Island) is the perfect fit for the Panther, given his distinctive voice. In fact, if the long-delayed live action film ever comes to fruition, he would be the perfect candidate for the Panther and not Wesley Snipes. Oscar nominee Alfre Woodard (Cross Creek, Star Trek: First Contact) plays two parts: the Panther’s mother and Donde Reese. R&B singer Jill Scott plays Storm of the X-Men and Panther co-creator/Marvel godfather Stan Lee plays an idiotic general.
As far as the wrong voices… Adrian Pasdar (TV’s Heroes) plays Captain America – he just doesn’t sound commanding enough. Veteran voice actor Michael Bell (Duke from G.I. Joe) would be a better fit for Cap. The same thing with Kevin Michael Richardson as Wolverine – he just doesn’t sound right in this part. Yes, Wolverine’s gruff but way too gruff here – almost over the top. It would’ve been a hoot if Hugh Jackman could’ve done Wolverine’s voice or Cal Dodd, who voiced Wolverine in the 1990s X-Men: The Animated Series and on several other occasions.
There are points in the movie where the creators try too hard to make the Panther a major player in the Marvel Universe. Also, some of the villains are new like the Cannibal (who can assume the form of his victims), Black Knight (this isn’t the Nathan Garrett version, nor the heroic Dane Whitman version, but a new evil Knight) and Radioactive Man (not the Thunderbolts character). They’re introduced without any explanation as to who they really are. The Panther’s enemy Klaw isn’t new, but has a new look, which isn’t explained.
The Juggernaut is also a villain featured and it’s the Cain Marko we all know and love. However, in one scene the Juggernaut is taken down by tranquilizer gas. In previous stories, Juggernaut doesn’t need air.
Again, from the perspective of a newbie watching the movie for the first time, all this is fine. However, long-time fans will be scratching their heads over some of the things that occur in this movie.