Yesterday, Marvel gave us our first look at the upcoming Black Panther movie. Not unlike the recent Wonder Woman, this film represents a watershed moment for representation in the superhero genre. Chadwick Boseman will be portraying the first black superhero to lead his own film in the new age of comic book movies, picking up from Wesley Snipes as Blade and Shaquille O’Neal as Steel.
Without further ado, let’s look at the trailer.
I think two words can summarize my first takeaway from this trailer:
Seriously though, that shot of Black Panther lurking above those (what were they? poachers? intruders?) men was like Batman meets the Xenomorph.
Moving on: there’s a lot of quality production work already on display here – costumes, cinematography, the color palette that DC doesn’t know exists… It’s striking just how vivid it all looks, whether it’s what appears to be a press briefing or conference of some nature or the later afternoon fight scene bathed in oranges. With the exception of the scene that opens the trailer, everything else is as far removed from cold and sterile as one could hope. If that translates to the whole film, we’re in for a treat.
In terms of content, it’s a bit harder to say – T’Challa isn’t given any lines in his own trailer. We’re reintroduced to Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), vibranium smuggler, last seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron, being interrogated by another returning face, Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman), who cropped up in Civil War. Ross appears to be pushing the party line view of Wakanda as a generic subSaharan African nation of little relevance, while Klaue pitches it as a real-life El Dorado, where something much more valuable than gold exists.
What follows from there are some really nice action shots, indoor and out; villain Erik Killmonger in a tribal mask, appearing to bust Klaue out of prison; a lot of shots of people in various environments outdoors, each shot beautifully; the Dora Milaje (Wakanda’s all-female special forces) and a concluding shot of Black Panther leaping from one fast-moving car to another.
Tonally, thematically, it’s hard to find a lot to unpack in a material sense – there’s little dialogue and few character beats. I could come away from this trailer thinking Klaue and Black Panther are a spin on Joker and Batman, the former laughing weirdly as he calls “I can see you!” through a two-way mirror at the latter, who as mentioned before seems to have mastered the art of being above you, in the darkness, and about to punch you in the hope that this day wouldn’t involve vicious beatdowns at the hands of a superhero.
With slightly incongruous music and no shots of its lead character speaking, it feels like this teaser is meant just to showcase the action and production values while reminding audiences that this film is still moving forward. As it stands, I think Marvel has put a very good foot forward here. I just hope future trailers give us something meatier to look forward to.