Cut To The Chase: Marvel's Black Panther

J.C. Howard

J.C. Howard | Mar 06, 2018

Marvel’s Black Panther was released last month and topped the Box Office for its opening weekend and beyond. The movie has plenty of buzz and much for good reason, but in addition to any of that, the Black Panther car chase scene is one that is far and beyond better than most! This is a spoiler-free review of why the Black Panther car chase was one of the best of all time!

Let me level with you. I’m not a big fan of car chases. They often take place at night, feature dark-colored vehicles, or are just a conduit for explosions. Boring! I mean, I like a good car flip as much as the next guy, but more often than not the car chase seems an overused trope. There’s rarely a purpose to it other than to say, “Oh look how fast this car is.” Or “Look how well this character drives.” Ok, but how does that advance the story?

My biggest critique of most car chase scenes is that there are too many cars to follow and they all look alike. Not to mention the fact that the drivers of the various vehicles are nearly interchangeable.

The prototype for a good car chase in my mind will always be the mall chase in The Blues Brothers. Jake and Elwood in a black and white ’74 Dodge Monaco and the police in their all-white cruiser. The cars are visually and symbolically different; a good car chase scene should be similarly easy to follow. Even in the Blues Brothers’ other chase scenes—including the epic pile-up—there remains stark visual differences.

The Blues Brothers: Great car chases? Or the best car chases? 

In Black Panther, the car chase is visually stunning and has a soundtrack that audibly drives the scene (Get it? Drives? …You’re right, I’m better than this). The New York Times produced a clip featuring the chase scene with commentary from the film’s co-writer and director, Ryan Coogler. In this “Anatomy of a Scene” clip, the Oakland-native Coogler discusses how he demonstrates a theme that reappears throughout the film, that of the traditionalist vs. the innovator; if you have seen the movie I’d definitely suggest checking out the clip, and if you haven’t seen the movie, the clip only has light spoilers, and will not spoil the movie overall!

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

Aside from the symbolism, the scene passes my Blues Brothers' test. Though there are more than two cars involved in the chase, the “good guys” are driving sedans, while the “bad guys” are driving SUVs. Visual markers like this help to denote which characters are in which vehicles, and frankly help me actually see the people for whom I should be rooting!

In Black Panther, the scene isn’t about how well anyone drives. For all intents and purposes, the baddies' driving is as skillful as the heroes' but that's not the point. The scene's real purpose is to illustrate the differences in the technological tools and strategies between the two groups. Our outnumbered heroes work together as a team to devise a thoughtful plan, assisted by superior automotive and communication technology, while the baddies' reckless escape tactics demonstrate a willingness to create chaos and use their own lackeys as cannon fodder. (Spear fodder?)

My biggest critique of the scene is the blatant product placement for Lexus. (I suppose I can’t really blame them; baby’s got to eat after all.) Despite that, it's still one of the best car chase scenes of all time in my book. Sound off and tell us what YOU think! Have you seen the movie yet? What did you think of the car chase? What movie has the best car chase of all time? Leave a comment below or head over to our community page on Facebook and let us know!

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