Before TV fans got too focused on the fourth match of the NBA Finals, Marvel Studios dropped a bombshell on us today with the first trailer for Black Panther. Directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station), the debut solo movie for the King of Wakanda is arguably one of Marvel Studios‘ most anticipated and ambitious projects. T’Challa’s introduction in Captain America: Civil War was well received by moviegoers, with many stating his and Spider-Man’s introduction were the highlights of the film. But while the web-head will take us back to joys and obscurity of high school next month, Black Panther will expand the already impressive Marvel Cinematic Universe, starting a landmark chapter in the overall arc. There was a lot going on in the trailer, but here are some key points to notice:
FIRST LOOK AT THE MAIN CAST
This trailer wasted no time in introducing us to the main characters. Both Chadwick Boseman and Martin Freeman are reprising their respective roles from Captain America: Civil War, with Andy Serkis returning to his role as Ulysses Klaue. The elusive arms dealer hasn’t been seen since his debut in Avengers: Age of Ultron, losing an arm to the killer A.I. Empire Strikes Back style. Since he is seen still without an arm, one can deduce he has returned to Wakanda not only to get revenge on T’Challa, but maybe to get a vibranium prosthetic, connecting him closer to his comic book roots. Klaue will be conspiring with nemesis Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan. Often seen as the Bane to Black Panther’s Batman, Killmonger has the strength, skills, and cunning to match his hated foe and has attempted to usurp the Wakandan Kingdom many times over the years.
Black Panther won’t be alone in his fight, however. Aiding him will his mother Queen Ramonda, played by a very Storm-looking Angela Basset, and sister Shuri, played by Letitia Wright. The presence of a royal family in a modern day society definitely supports Daniel Kaluuya (who plays W’Kabi, T’Challa’s confidant) claims about the film being similar to HBO‘s Game of Thrones. We were also shown first looks at Forest Whitaker’s Zuri, a shaman and trusted adviser of the royal family, and Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, a member of the Dora Milaje.
A DIFFERENT TYPE OF POLITICAL THRILLER
Much like Captain America: The Winter Solider, Black Panther looks to be leaning more towards the political thriller genre than a typical action film. Not surprising, as T’’halla’s role makes him unique among Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. I’m sure the action and overall tone will be similar to Winter Soldier, but I expect the story and underlying themes to be more akin to television’s West Wing and House of Cards, focusing on the machinations, conspiracies, and grabs for power often seen in political dramas. Winter Solider challenged Steve Rogers’ (and our own) perception about what it means to be a soldier versus a good person, a call back to the promise Rogers made in Captain America: The First Avenger. This shift in perspective challenges a new question: “What does it mean to be a king?” We all know that being a good person is essential to being a hero. But, as it was stated in the trailer, it’s hard for a good man to be a king.
LIVE ACTION WAKANDA
Much like Thor’s home of Asgard, Wakanda is a classic landmark of the Marvel Universe. Known as one of, if not the most, advanced nation on the planet, fans like myself were worried how it would be represented. I’m happy to say that I was nowhere near disappointed. The advanced, yet realistic look of Wakanda and its many points of interest seem to take cues from different places like Dubai, Egypt, and Seoul, all of which are known for preserving their rich history and culture while still living in the modern world.
Places like The Golden City and Wakanda’s Royal Palace are on full display, and I assume T’Challa and Killmonger are shown fighting at Warrior Falls, where many of their battles have been known to happen in the comics. The fact that such a place has lived in relative secrecy should serve as evidence as to what they’re capable of. Hopefully fan favorite locales such as Necropolis, the Wall of Knowledge, and The Great Mound will be seen at some point during the film or in a possible sequel.
BLACK PANTHER’S NEW SUIT
Much in the way of Iron Man, Black Panther’s suit seems to have upgraded since last seen in Captain America: Civil War. Certain shots show the helmet with a slight redesign, while the suit itself looks less bulky. Some sort of energy weapon is also seen towards the end of the trailer, looking somewhat similar to weapons seen in the current Black Panther comic series. The recent surge in his popularity would lead to some ideas slipping in (much like Spider-Man will have a more technological suit in his debut film), and Marvel Studios is known for pulling out all of the stops when introducing new characters. Or for a simpler theory, what we saw in Captain America: Civil War was some type of “away suit.” Wakanda has been known for its isolationist views and showing up with your older, yet still highly advanced, gear could fit into T’Challa’s character development. Either way, it looks good to be king.
WAR OF A NATION
The movie might also be a spiritual adaptation of the first major story arc of the new Black Panther comic series, “A Nation Under Our Feet”. Both seem to deal with a dramatic upheaval in Wakanda and the Black Panther’s struggle to do right by his people as will and ideologies are be tested by a warring tribes and an unknown enemy that sparks a violent uprising among the citizens. Images like the one above show the Dora Milaje ready to battle against what looks like warring tribes. Each group is seen wearing a distinctive color and pattern, further drawing comparisons to the different warring factions seen in Game of Thrones. The film’s use of ancient and futuristic weaponry is also a nice touch, further setting this film apart from the conventionally militaristic look of the MCU.
Black Panther hits theatres February 16, 2018.