It’s not unusual for a Marvel Studios flick to be hotly anticipated, but sheesh, even by Marvel standards, people are very excited about February’s Black Panther. The Ryan Coogler–helmed, Chadwick Boseman–starring picture follows the adventures of T’Challa, king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, and features a cast that’s practically a who’s-who of top black talent in Hollywood. But what’s actually going to happen in the damn thing? We finally got a glimpse when Marvel dropped the first teaser-trailer for the movie, and it’s chock-full of characters and locations that moviegoers have never seen before. First, give it a watch in full, then we’ll dig into all the stuff that might be confusing you.
Appropriately stoked? Lovely, now let’s get into the nitty gritty.
These fellas are just about the only white characters you’re likely to spend much time with in the film. The stern-looking one on the left is Martin Freeman’s Everett K. Ross, an employee of the U.S. government whom we first met (briefly) in last year’s Captain America: Civil War. He’s skeptical about superheroes, but in comics mythology, his destiny regularly gets wrapped up with that of the much-cooler T’Challa. He’s staring down Andy Serkis’s Ulysses Klaue, a South African smuggler and general ne’er-do-well who has traditionally been one of T’Challa’s greatest foes, and who we met (briefly) in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. It appears that Ross is in the dark about the true nature of …
… Wakanda! Hello and welcome to the most technologically advanced nation on earth, an unconquered African country that has existed in isolation and has, according to Ross and Klaue’s convo, falsely presented itself to the world as just another Third World also-ran in the global race to the bottom. Up until the events of Civil War, it was governed by King T’Chaka, T’Challa’s dad, who was killed by a bomb in that flick. It’s quite nice there this time of year.
This sexy back belongs to Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa, a.k.a. the Black Panther. The latter is a title bestowed upon the kings of Wakanda, but also doubles as a badass superhero name. In this I Am Cuba–esque sequence of shots, we see him walking through some secluded passageways before emerging into …
… what looks like some kind of ceremonial body of water, where his cheering subjects greet him. The gent in the purple is Forest Whitaker’s Zuri, a longtime royal adviser. But why is everyone hanging out here?
Well, it seems that they’re sending T’Challa off as he flies away in his hella advanced flying vehicle. This mix of nature and tech is a key part of the Wakandan aesthetic.
Uh oh, looks like some baddies are trying to eff up some stuff within the Wakandan borders. Nuh-uh, y’all — don’t you know you’re about to get pounced upon by …
… the person this movie is about!
His armor is bulletproof. T’Challa’s superpowers are a mix of stuff that’s in his armor and mystical things that are bestowed upon the kings of Wakanda. We don’t know the cinematic version of the guy’s exact power-set just yet.
We’re back at Klaue’s interrogation in … I wanna say New York? Maybe Washington? We see T’Challa and Okoye, the head of Wakanda’s all-female squad of super-soldier royal bodyguards, the Dora Milaje. Played here by Danai Gurira, she is having none of Klaue’s nonsense.
This here is the Golden City, capital of Wakanda. Think Blade Runner, except with greenery and better sanitation services.
Zuri gets to work on something ceremonial. I think it’s safe to assume that Whitaker will get at least one “Save the Rebellion! Save the dream!”–esque line, no?
A group of youths and elders assists Zuri in his task. Whitaker’s definitely gonna have some big, meaningful death scene, right? That seems pretty safe to assume.
This is a masked jerk who busts Klaue out of the interrogation, and it appears that he’s none other than Erik Killmonger, another longtime Panther baddie, played here by Michael B. Jordan. Killmonger’s deal is that he’s a brilliant and cunning Wakandan exile who resents T’Challa and the whole ruling class of the country. In the comics, he’s usually a giant bruiser; here, he’s trim and extremely hot, because he’s Michael B. Jordan.
Meet Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia, another member of the Dora Milaje and T’Challa’s romantic interest. She’s in a nightclub where everything seems to be going just fine, until …
… a tussle breaks out! Don’t worry, the Dora Milje have got it under control.
T’Challa appears before the United Nations. But what brings him there? Is he telling the world about what Wakanda’s really like? Or is he just promoting his new line of classy scarves? Only time will tell.
Good lord, I am having some feelings about Erik Killmonger, who is apparently captured by the Wakandan government at this point. His escort is T’Challa’s buddy W’Kabi, played by Daniel Kaluuya.
I’m not sure who this character is, but I’m into it.
The Dora Milaje on guard in the Wakandan capital. Make a joke about their haircuts. I freaking dare you.
A gang of our protagonists walks through a snowscape of some kind. Wakanda during the winter, perhaps? Or some icy peak in the mountains? It’s also possible that this is related to a concept from the comics, which is the Wakandan Necropolis, a city-within-a-city that’s populated by dead souls.
Wherever they are, they’re chilly, and they include Queen Ramonda, T’Challa’s mom, played by IRL royalty Angela Bassett. Bow down.
Trial by combat between Killmonger and T’Challa? Or just the setup to my erotic fan fiction about the two of them realizing they can only settle their differences via kissing?
Killmonger escapes! Did I mention that I’m very attracted to him?
A brief but memorable appearance from Letitia Wright’s Shuri, younger sister of T’Challa and general tech expert. She’ll bleep you up with those laser fists.
I believe this is Winston Duke playing M’Baku, known in the comics as Man-Ape, a Wakandan tribe leader who doesn’t much care for the ruling regime. His clan is, apparently, a beefy one.
And last, but certainly not least, we get to see T’Challa go adventuring and hopping around on a crashing car without breaking a sweat. I mean, we can’t see whether he’s sweating, what with the catsuit and all, but given everything we’ve just seen, sweat seems unlikely on a man this cool.