Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Trailer Breakdown: Broken People And Great Leaders

The teaser trailer for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" played out heartstrings like an orchestra when it dropped, tapping into our collective sorrow for the loss of Chadwick Boseman (and Wakanda's for King T'Challa) while also inspiring a sense of awe with its first glimpse at Namor (Tenoch Huerta) and the underwater citizens of Talocan in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If the sequel's full-length trailer isn't quite as soul-stirring, it's only really due to it having to follow such a powerful first act.

Returning co-writer/director Ryan Coogler has said that he poured the maelstrom of emotions he felt after Boseman's shocking death into the story for "Wakanda Forever." With the first "Black Panther" movie still ranking among the MCU's all-time best films, and the only one so far to take home a Best Picture Oscar nod, the bar was already sky-high from the moment Coogler boarded the follow-up. One can understand why he gave serious thought to walking away from the whole thing after losing his leading man and friend.

Fortunately for us, he didn't. Coogler came back to make "Wakanda Forever," a sequel that clearly has far more on its mind than serving as the bridge to the MCU's next phase. Let's take a closer look at the official trailer and see what we can learn.

The fall of a king ... and the rise of another

The trailer opens by cutting back and forth between T'Challa's funeral in Wakanda and Namor painting a mural in Talocan. "Only the most broken people can be great leaders," we hear Namor musing. Is he referring to himself, or the people of Wakanda? In either case, this speaks volumes about his outlook and why he might take issue with Wakanda, whose rulers come to power based on their lineage and not their individual merits (although most of them do, in time, have to prove themselves to be worthy of their position).

Further contrasting and comparing Wakanda with Talocan, the trailer juxtaposes a shot of Namor floating down into his underwater throne with a close-up of Okoye (Danai Gurira), her eyes filled with tears as she stares at the, quite literally, empty Wakandan throne room. This entire series of images makes it clear T'Challa's death, coupled with his decision to reveal his country's true nature to the world at the end of "Black Panther," is the catalyst for Namor's (again, very literal) ascent and Talocan choosing now to expose itself to the surface world. That it does so purely through visuals is a testament to the trailer's editing.

Meet the Feather Serpent God

So what do the land-dwellers know of Namor and his agenda when "Wakanda Forever" begins? Very little, it appears. He's called K'uk'ulkan or the Feather Serpent God by his people, a title with a basis in real-life Mesoamerican culture and one that's no doubt a nod to his mutation-based powers. M'Baku (Winston Duke) also notes that Namor refrains from being referred to as "General" or "King," which only further seems to speak to his distaste for the monarchical system used by Wakanda.

(Then again, he still allows the citizens of Talocan to refer to him as a "God," so maybe be a little less snooty, pal.)

A quick shot of Namor flying in the air thanks to the tiny wings attached to his ankles is a bit of a mood-breaker amidst all the action and drama in this trailer. Even so, it's clear the stakes are higher than ever for Wakanda's people. To kill Namor is to risk "eternal war," M'Baku observes, and Shuri (Letitia Wright) claims he's coming for "the surface world," starting with Wakanda. After so many decades (centuries?) of watching us land-dwellers pollute his backyard and spoil the planet, can anyone blame the MCU's not-Aquaman for deciding it's time we answer for our follies?

Wakanda strikes back

Is Namor doomed to be yet another MCU antagonist who raises valid concerns about the state of the world, only to see them fall by the side and the status quo upheld? "Black Panther" came closer than other MCU films to breaking this trend, with Killmonger acting as the catalyst that convinced T'Challa that his country could and should be doing more for the world with its resources. With Coogler at the helm, there's a hance "Wakanda Forever" will go even further by having Namor and Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) reach some sort of peace deal in the end.

Before we get there, though, there's going to be conflict — and lots of it. The movie's trailer includes multiple shots of Wakanda being flooded by Namor and his forces (including its throne room), with Okoye and Michaela Coel's Aneka also shown battling armored figures who look to be attacking a Wakandan ship carrying supplies. "We know what you whisper: They have lost their protector," Ramonda says, addressing the members of the United Nations. However it intends to lead the world into the future, Wakanda will first have to defend itself on all sides.

Ironheart to the rescue!

Once upon a time, the MCU was dependent on the whims of a billionaire playboy tech whiz in a giant tin can for its safety. Now, it's gaining a new and improved iron defender in the form of Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne), aka Ironheart, a young STEM-loving Black teenager who can be seen assembling her suit in the latest "Wakanda Forever" trailer. That we also get a shot of Riri putting her armor to the test suggests the character may yet serve as an integral part of the film's story.

A younger generation of heroes replacing the old guard has been a motif of the MCU's Phase 4, with the likes of Yelena Belova, Xu Shang-Chi, Kate Bishop, Kamala Khan, and America Chavez emerging to carry the torch onward. With the "Black Panther" sequel set to close out Phase 4, it only makes sense to bring Ironheart into the mix at this stage. Plus, linking her origins in the MCU directly to Wakanda is a great way of showing how T'Challa's dream at the end of the first movie (using his resources to help Black people the world over) is still alive and well.

And you are...?

Just as it did with the original teaser, Marvel can't resist hyping the identity of the new Black Panther in the latest "Wakanda Forever" trailer. The shots we get of Wakanda's mystery protector suited up mostly confirm what we already knew: That their costume has gold accents and not silver ones like T'Challa's did, and that is definitely not our beloved beefy boy M'Baku behind the mask.

Then who is it? Shuri continues to feel like the strongest possibility, between the various toy leaks pointing in that direction and the character having already suited up as Black Panther in Marvel's comic books (being T'Challa's sister and all). What's more, the dots on the new Black Panther's face match Shuri's war paint from the first "Black Panther" movie, so unless this is a deliberate mislead, it looks like Wakanda's princess is about to become its new protector.

The fact Letitia Wright is now a figure of controversy does raise the question of whether Marvel really wants to go all-in on her playing a larger role in the MCU's future, particularly after the way her reported vaccine refusal caused a headache during filming on "Wakanda Forever." Like so much of the movie, there's a dark cloud preventing us from clearly seeing what lies ahead here.

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" opens in theaters on November 11, 2022.