Marvel Studios really hasn't been up on its trailer game lately. Since the final trailer for Captain America: Civil War in 2016, there's really been nothing to write home about with the teasers and trailers for any of the four movies since then. The Doctor Strange trailers were decent not great, the Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 trailers relied on one-liners and bright colors far too much, the Spider-Man: Homecoming trailers have almost completely revealed the plot of the movie, and the teaser for Thor: Ragnarok, while sporting an awesome Led Zeppelin track, left much to be desired.
So it's appropriate that the character who stole the show in Civil War would pop up now with what is the best trailer for a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie in more than a year. The first teaser for Black Panther, due out on February 16 of next year is awesome. Seriously, it's what an MCU trailer is SUPPOSED to be in my humble opinion, but it might be more indicative of the movie itself than the teaser.
I and many others have been lamenting the direction that the MCU has taken lately regarding the use of humor in a pretty egregious manner to make their movies as lighthearted and full of escapism as possible. This approach has hurt the storytelling, setting and tone of a number of MCU films for me, the worst case being the Guardians sequel which abandoned the idea of being a comedic science fiction movie like its predecessor was, in favor of being a sci-fi comedy that was low on plot but heavy on jokes, most of which didn't even work. Before that, Doctor Strange flirted with one too many one-liners and Beyonce references, and Civil War took what should have been a pretty tense battle between members of the Avengers at an airport and made it more like an outtake from Age of Ultron's party scene, which ironically was much more tense when Ultron first attacked them at the tower.
Since Spider-Man and Ragnarok clearly contain similar humor, I feared the same formula was being used for the story of King T'Challa of Wakanda and his grand, but hidden kingdom in Africa. Fortunately from the looks of this first teaser, that may not be the case at all.
The teaser begins with a conversation between Andy Serkis' Ulysses Klaw, shown without a left arm thanks to Ultron in the last "official" Avengers movie, and Everett Ross, the government agent played by Martin Freeman who first appeared in Civil War. Klaw asks Ross what he knows about Wakanda, claiming that instead of being the quiet, unassuming third-world country that everyone thinks it is, it is in fact "El Dorado" as he calls it. It's not long after that we are shown Wakanda in all of its gorgeous, technologically advanced, wholly African glory. It looks like somewhere I would move to in a heartbeat if it was real, seriously.
We don't get dialogue from Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa, but we do see him in action both in and out of his vibranium laced costume, which looks just as fantastic as it did in Civil War. We see what appears to be several members of his personal guard the Dora Milaje, including Nakia played by Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong'o, Okoye played by Danai Gurira best known as Michonne from The Walking Dead, and the return of Ayo played by Florence Kasumba, who fiercely told Black Widow in Civil War to move, or she would "be moved." We also see Erik Killmonger played by Michael B. Jordan and W'Kabi played by Daniel Kaluuya, who recently was put on the map with his smashing lead actor debut in Get Out, as well as glimpses of Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker who play Ramonda and Zuri respectively.
It's unclear who it is that is talking after Klaw and Ross' opening conversation, but the words are very telling: "The world is changing. Soon there will only be the conquered and the conquerors. You are a good man with a good heart, and it's hard for a good man to be a king." This is all certainly spoken toward T'Challa himself and is said underneath major action scenes in the movie that show the whole gamut from hand to hand combat, to guns, to explosives, intercut with scenes of the Wakandan people and their king's interactions with them.
It looks like Black Panther is a movie that may indeed be almost completely contained within the kingdom of Wakanda for the whole movie, which would be the best thing for it, to tell a full story of T'Challa and the somewhat secret lives of his people without any major interference or scene sharing with The Avengers as it were, especially since we can wait a few months later for Infinity War. I will admit that I haven't read much Black Panther at all except for a few issues of the recent run by Ta-Nehisi Coates, but I can say that from what I read this movie looks to be very close to the world drawn in those issues with regard to colors, costumes and overall setting. Wakanda, in this brief teaser looks to be every bit the strong and vibrant African nation that was teased to us in the mid-credit scene of Civil War, and I cannot wait to see it.
I won't lie, as a person of color I am VERY excited for this movie. There has never been a comic book movie that is almost entirely centered around black people, Africans in this case and that is simply going to be a fun thing to watch especially with the incredibly deep cast assembled from top to bottom and Ryan Coogler, director of Creed at the helm. It is still unfortunate that by the time Black Panther is released, it will be the 18th movie within the MCU and we would have effectively waited a decade since the start of the franchise to see it, but the movie is indeed finally happening and that will be a cause for celebration for anyone that is championing diversity in these comic book movies. It has certainly been a long time coming.
I want Black Panther to replace Captain America: Winter Soldier as the MCU's best movie in my opinion, not because of the diversity angle or the fact that it's about a badass African kingdom, but because it might signal a return to a form of filmmaking that Marvel Studios was starting to touch on in Phase 2 with Winter Soldier as an example that they went away from in favor of the more lighthearted escapism. I am not saying that Black Panther should be a movie that is completely devoid of humor, but I do think it's one that should take itself much more seriously than Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man or even The Avengers does, and judging from this teaser trailer it may in fact do just that. Here's hoping.
Now I'm going to go watch this teaser about 50 more times and start wishing again that I was Wakandan. SO badass.