“Soon there will only be the conquered and the conquerors.”
Sharpen your claws, comic book fans. Marvel Studios just dropped the first trailer for the much-anticipated film Black Panther, and it looks like a wild ride.
Chadwick Boseman (Get On Up, Captain America: Civil War) returns as T’Challa, heir to the fictional African Kingdom of Wakanda. Black Panther is one of the first Marvel films to star an African American actor in the leading role, coming shortly behind the Netflix Original series Luke Cage, which stars actor Mike Colter, and long after the Blade series, the 1998 film trinity starring Wesley Snipes. The story of T’Challa was a first for the comic book world when he stepped onto the scene in 1966. Black Panther was one of the first black characters ever portrayed in comic books as a true superhero rather than a background or side character. With a majority black cast, this film will hopefully set the stage for others like it.
The cinematic universe first introduces Wakanda in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) managed to acquire a sizeable amount of Vibranium, one of the rarest metals in the Marvel world, from the only place it can be found — Wakanda. The indestructible, nearly mythological metal was used to make Captain America‘s (Chris Evans) iconic shield and Black Panther’s bulletproof suit.
Ultron takes the Vibranium (and Klaue’s arm), but viewers are not given any hints of his fate until now. The trailer shows Klaue sitting in a room, being interrogated by CIA agent Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman).
Viewers may remember Agent Ross from Captain America: Civil War, and Lord of The Rings fans will be delighted to see Bilbo Baggins (Freeman) and Gollum (voiced and performance captured by Serkis) staring each other down.
Klaue asks Ross how much he knows about Wakanda. With disinterest, the agent states, “It’s a third-world country,” as the scene cuts to a shot of a gorgeous waterfall. “Textiles,” continues Ross, “shepherds … cool outfits…”
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Ryan Coogler notes, “One person knows quite a bit about Wakanda, and another person thinks they do, but they don’t.” Klaue is quick to tell Ross where he is wrong. Wakanda is far more dangerous. “But I thought it would be awesome to start with a character who has seen Wakanda in its true light,” continued Coogler.
In the trailer, Klaue’s voice over accompanies beautiful images of Wakanda. According to Klaue, explorers have searched for Wakanda, believing it to be El Dorado, but he is the only one to have “seen it and made it out alive.” The group of armed men shown prowling in Black Panther’s territory may not be so lucky. T’Challa rolls out the welcome mat for them in the form of a serious beating.
The scene jumps back to the interrogation room. T’Challa and Okoye (Danai Gurira, The Walking Dead) watching through a two-way window. They do not look terribly pleased.
In Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa dons the guise of the Black Panther in order to bring justice after the death of his father, T’Chaka, initially believing former assassin Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) is responsible. At the end of Captain America: Civil War, Steve Rogers said goodbye to Barnes and left him, frozen and asleep, in T’Challa’s care. During the film, viewers learn a bit more about his home and how the ruling family keep Wakanda’s prosperity and technological advances a closely guarded secret for the safety of its people. As Klaue says, what Ross believes about Wakanda is “all a front.”
The trailer treats us to a few more shots of Wakanda. We see T’Challa’s fighter jet, the Royal Talon, swooping in over the gorgeous city. Another scene shows T’Challa stepping out of the jet and down into a pool surrounded by cascading waterfalls, where royal adviser Zuri (Forest Whitaker) and a cheering crowd, all clad in colorful, wonderfully complex African clothing meet him. According to Entertainment Weekly, this place is “Warrior Falls, where kings are coronated.” T’Challa is taking the throne in his father’s place.
T’Challa certain has his work cut out for him. A masked figure uses explosives to presumably break Klaue out of the interrogation room. The trailer shows Nakia, portrayed by actress Lupita Nyong’o, striding through a casino. A fight breaks out there. Nakia is part of the Dora Milaje, a group of dangerous female bodyguards and “wives-in-training” for the king. The original story of Nakia depicts her as a villainess after she is banished from Wakanda for attempting to get rid of T’Challa’s love interest. Will the cinematic universe follow the same story?
Love may be the least of T’Challa’s worries. Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Fantastic Four) is pictured as Erik Killmonger, the villain of the film, apparently restrained, being escorted by actor Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out). T’Challa is shown walking with his mask off and his arms out towards a group of his own people with a calm look on his face, perhaps hoping to convey that he means no harm.
He wears that same look in front of a press conference as he takes on the political duties of his new role. The trailer shows him walking into his throne room, flanked by female guards. His personal bodyguard Ayo (Florence Kasumba) is pictured nearby in several scenes. Fans of the franchise may recall Ayo stonily telling Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), “Move or you will be moved,” during a fantastically tense moment in Captain America: Civil War.
We catch a very brief glimpse of actress Angela Bassett portraying Ramonda, T’Challa’s mother, with Nakia and Shuri, T’challa’s sister (Letitia Wright) at her side and Agent Ross behind her.
The trailer goes on to show several battles. One appears to be between Killmonger and T’Challa, another between M’Baku (Winston Duke), the leader of a rival tribe and the eventual villain Man-Ape. Another shows Killmonger facing off against a squad of female warriors. Those same warriors are confronted by a group of male warriors who may be M’Baku’s side. It does not look like the skilled women will be easily beaten. Shuri and Nakia are shown with some serious-looking weapons.
The Black Panther is shown racing down what seems to be a street in Korea. We get one more glimpse of M’Baku, yelling in triumph in front of Shiri, Nakia and more warriors. Then the trailer cuts to the Black Panther being flicked into the air from the roof of a car that appears to have been destroyed in a blast of purple energy. He lands on top of another moving car with the grace of … well, a panther.
At this point, it is not clear if T’Challa will be joining any members of the Avengers Team from Thor: Ragnarok, alongside Dr. Strange, or if we will see him in Avengers: Infinity Wars. Still, if the trailer is any indication, Black Panther will not disappoint when it is released in theaters on Feb. 18th, 2018.