It’s been a while sense a trailer has dropped that I can really sink my teeth into, and what better trailer to explore than the brand new teaser for “Black Panther”, 2018’s first installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is a short teaser, but one that has a lot of people talking and a lot of great hints to explore, so lets get to the breakdown!
First off the trailer opens with two characters that should look very familiar to fans of the MCU. One is Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue, who we last saw in “The Avengers: Age of Ultron”. He was the man Ultron dealt with to receive the Virbanium that would make the body that becomes Vision. At that time Ultron became frustrated with Klaue and removed his arm, and it doesn’t look like he’s quite improved that situation yet although in the comics he does utilize a sonic sound weapon on his removed arm. The other is Martin Freeman as Everett Ross who played a small part in “Captain America: Civil War” basically as a big shot agent who greeted Captain America and Falcon after their run in with Black Panther and subsequent arrest and taunted Zemo at the end of the film. The two stare each other down as Klaue explains the truth behind Wakanda to Ross. Clearly there are some mysteries to the African nation that the public does not know because Ross seems interested, believing it to be simply a “third world country”.
What follows is a voiceover by Klaue revealing Wakanda is, in fact, not what many believe it to be. It’s actually, as he puts it, the true home to El Dorado and this gives us our first glimpse of the Panther himself, Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa, albeit from behind, entering a world that looks oddly like what many assume El Dorado would look like if it were ever discovered. Whether this is meant to be Klaue’s personal description of Wakanda or a literal explanation of the nation is left to be seen. Klaue reveals that Wakanda’s simple appearance is a “front”, implying that the world does not know the true nature of the nation which fits with the public image the nation seemed to have in “Civil War”.
We finally see the Black Panther in action as Klaue explains he’s the only one who has infiltrated the African nation and survived. Mercenaries appear to be trying to access the inner sanctum of the nation, but are stopped by the Panther himself, who jumps from a tree, dispatching enemies in his trademark Vibranium suit, reflecting bullets without even a flinch. It’s the first time we get to see the Panther fight off enemies rather than fellow superheroes and it’s a quick glimpse at the Panther’s more homegrown heroic efforts as the guardian of his city’s secrets.
That’s just the first minute of this teaser as Klaue taunts the Black Panther himself who is watching through a one-way mirror before the Marvel Studios logo flickers on screen and the soundtrack begins. We get our first look at what Wakanda really looks like as a unique looking aircraft, which was also shown earlier in the trailer, hovers over the city presumably with the Panther on board. Clearly Wakanda is very technologically advanced, looking almost futuristic, however we know from the Klaue/Ross exchange and “Civil War” that the world seems to believe Wakanda to be much less advanced. So it begs to question whether or not the Black Panther’s involvement in “Civil War” and the Wakandan deaths associated with that conflict may have opened the nation up to spilling it’s secrets to the rest of the world.
We get a few flashes of what we can assume to be the natural civilians of Wakanda, who look quite unique in their own way, before we get our first look at the big baddy of the film, Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger, who sets up a detonator on the wall of the cell holding Klaue, blows up the wall, interrupting the meeting with Ross, and seemingly frees the captive.
Mixed in with a few action scenes we see this shot of the Black Panther walking forward, in suit sans helmet, with his arms open wide. This is an interesting shot because we don’t have context. Is this his triumphant return after “Civil War”? Probably not seeing as the post credits of “Civil War” showed he was already home and hiding the Winter Solider. Is this him at his coronation ceremony? Maybe considering it was never officially done during “Civil War”, only implied. Or is this him taunting an opponent? The beauty here is that it’s open for interpretation, although T’Challa doesn’t appear to be in the middle of a battle here so we’ll have to wait for more context before we understand this scene a bit more.
We next see T’Challa at what appears to be a summit of some kind with the films main enemy finally unmasked. We see Killmonger’s face and we know it’s the same person who broke out Klaue because of his suit, so it stands to reason his escape attempt for Klaue didn’t go so well. Either that or he just wears the same suit to all his evil excursions. He carries himself with attitude so we can already assume this is a baddy who takes no crap. He know what he wants to accomplish, and he doesn’t seem to be a big fan of the Black Panther at all, which is fitting considering he’s an exile.
The trailer also gives us our first look at the Dora Milaje, an all-female guard of warriors for the Black Panther with a few notable warriors taking center stage. Danai Gurira (that’s right Michonne is in this movie baby!), Lupita Nyong’o and Anglea Bassett are all shown throughout the trailer in combat and other scenarios. We see several of the woman of the Dora Milaje in combat with Killmonger and we see two badass women exiting what appears to be a Wakandan palace with pretty nifty looking weapons at hand. While we have to wait a few more years before “Captain Marvel” puts Marvel Studios in line with the DC Universe by putting a female hero front and center, it doesn’t look like we’ll have to wait too much longer to see Black Widow be joined by equally badass female fighters, even if they are not the central heroes of this particular story. Still, it’s nice to see the film adapt this particular aspect of the Black Panther lore, making an army of women be the defender of the king rather than the men considering that in the feline species the female is usually much more adept at hunting and fighting.
Anyways, back on track. This shot above interested me because I couldn’t quite make out who this is. My thought was maybe this is Man-Ape, the leader of a rival Wakandan tribe to T’Challa’s set to be played by Winston Duke. The shot doesn’t last long, and he spends most of the time yelling so it’s hard to get a good look at the face, but I think in some ways it does resemble Duke and the suit looks very reminiscent of Man-Ape’s color scheme and uniform in the comics. This is pure speculation here, but that’s what these breakdowns are for. This could easily just be some of Killmonger’s warriors but whose to say Killmonger and Man-Ape are not working together? That would actually give us three main villains of the Black Panther on the same team and, as “Spiderman: Homecoming” is about to show us, the MCU is not above that kind of approach.
Of course we get a completely amazing action shot to close things out as the Black Panther is shown leaping off of a vehicle and landing smack-dab on another car, punching in the roof when he lands as the car keeps going. It’s a beautiful shot that shows off Black Panther’s acrobatic ability and the kind of action we can expect from this film. It’s also interesting because unlike the more realistic and gritty approach we saw with this character in “Civil War”, it appears the filmmakers took some liberties with this standalone film to delve more into the seemingly inhuman abilities the Panther has. I mean that landing would be difficult even for Captain America, ya know?
Anyways that’s my breakdown of the first teaser trailer for “Black Panther”. I’m really excited by what this offers and while it’s a bit more mysterious that the “Thor: Ragnarok” trailer was, it wets our appetites for what promises to be a very different kind of MCU adventure. What are your thoughts? Did you catch something I didn’t touch on? Let me know in the comments below and I’m sure we’ll get a better look at the film before “Black Panther” hits theaters in February. Watch the full teaser below if you haven’t already.