As the Marvel Cinematic Universe chips away at its long-gestating Phase Three, the world of crime-fighting superheroes is getting smaller — to bring those heroes together for whatever mayhem will unspool in the final two Avengers movies — but it’s still more crowded than ever, thanks to movies like “Captain Marvel” and “Black Panther,” which introduce key new heroes and their own individual stories.
Next up, the Ryan Coogler-directed “Black Panther,” which brings back Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther, who we first met in “Captain America: Civil War,” now dealing with his own homegrown threats. Coogler, a Sundance breakout with “Fruitvale” who landed Sylvester Stallone an Oscar nomination with “Creed,” seems to have advanced to the Marvel big leagues with ease.
The film picks up post-“Civil War” and sees the prince returning to his home, the isolationist (and totally fictional) African country Wakanda, where a number of threats are conspiring to bring down his ruling power. One of those threats: Michael B. Jordan, cast here as a Wakandan exile named Erik Killmonger (subtle), who is eager to bring down T’Challa and rule the country himself.
He’ll have some help, though, including Andy Serkis as a black market arms dealer…and maybe a few more familiar faces. In order to keep himself and his country safe, T’Challa teams up with C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman) and members of Wakanda’s own all-female special forces Dora Milaje (including Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira).
The film’s newest trailer lays out most of that, with a special emphasis on Wakanda’s spectacular technology, T’Challa’s personal and political struggles, and some major hints as to the battle ahead. As with any piece of marketing (especially marketing from Marvel), there are still some big questions and possible misdirects, but we’ve narrowed down some key aspects of the movie showcased here. It should be more than enough to tide you over until the film’s February release.
The Scope of Wakandan Ingenuity
Part of what makes Wakanda so special — and so purposely isolated — is its history with the fictional Marvel metal vibranium (the stuff Captain America’s shield is made from). Per Marvel mythos, Wakanda is home to a massive meteorite crash, a meteorite that just so happens to be made up entirely of vibranium. In order to guard its precious resource, Wakanda has long shielded itself and its people — literally so — through a number of technological marvels, including some kind of massive bubble that obscures it from the outside world. That ingenuity extends beyond the country’s borders, however, as this new trailer also shows off more mobile technological advances, like the ship that carries T’Challa and his guards back into what appears to be the country’s biggest city.
Killmonger’s Righteous Anger
As the exiled Killmonger, star Jordan isn’t just taking on a random baddie role; instead, his character is an antihero who truly believes that he’s on the right side of history. Fearsome as he might look in this trailer, his own lines hint at his desire to not just destroy the world (and Wakanda) in its current state, but to build it back up in a new image. At Comic-Con this year, Jordan further explained to IGN: “What I can say is that he definitely wants the throne. He’s very strategic, thoughtful. He’s very patient. Very well skilled, trained to a T. He works very hard, and he feels what he’s doing is right.” That’s a different kind of enemy.
The Power of the Dora Milaje
Wakanda’s all-female special forces unit is all over this new trailer, including shots of both Nyong’o and Gurira guarding T’Challa, from benign exercises like “flying in his super-jet” and “standing around looking tough” to actual hand-to-hand combat. It’s long been known that T’Challa will utilize the Dora Milaje extensively during his battle with Killmonger, but this new trailer also hints at their history and importance beyond the battlefield.
Wakanda Under Attack
The film’s official synopsis hints at the global reach of the events that play out in “Black Panther,” noting that T’Challa must battle “to prevent Wakanda from being dragged into a world war.” While that sounds bad enough — and given that the film will be followed by “Avengers: Infinity War,” likely a somewhat fruitless task — this new look at Coogler’s latest shows off plenty of battles that appear to take place within Wakanda proper. A world war might be imminent, but “Black Panther” looks to be partially beholden to chronicling its own unique civil war, one bolstered by old grudges and new technology.
The Beauty of T’Challa’s Homeland
While Wakanda is best known for its technology, ingenuity, and all that damn vibranium, Coogler was compelled to make sure that the mythical homeland of T’Challa and his subjects felt like more than just one cool super-city. He wanted Wakanda to feel truly like its own country, a fully realized one that encompasses different ways of life and scores of cultures. The filmmaker told Entertainment Weekly earlier this year: “A lot of the writers who did some of the most interesting work around the character, they treated Wakanda like a truly African country. When you go to countries in Africa, you’ll find several tribes, who speak their own languages, have their own culture, and have distinct food and way of dress. They live amongst each other, and together they make the identity of those countries. That’s something we tried to capture. We wanted it to feel like a country, as opposed to just one city or town.”
Brutal Car Chases
Although most of this new look at “Black Panther” focuses on events happening in Wakanda, a number of shots show off what appear to be multiple car chases happening far away from the majesty of T’Challa’s home country. Coogler memorably made his transition to action filmmaking with his lauded “Creed,” which included a show-stopping one-take fight sequence that was as brutal as it was impressive, and while car chases are an entirely different stripe of filmmaking, these new looks do hint at Coogler’s speedy evolution as an action-centric creator. Plus, at one point, T’Challa rips a wheel off a car still in motion.
“Black Panther” opens in theaters nationwide February 16, 2017. Watch the official trailer below.