'Black Panther' Trailer Breakdown: Welcome To Wakanda

The Black Panther trailer feels like a breath of fresh air in an environment crowded with superhero movies – no comic book adaptation has ever looked like this. Heck, no movie has ever looked like this. Even with a few familiar Marvel Studios trappings on display, Ryan Coogler's movie looks to blend superheroes and afrofuturism and all kinds of intrigue into something...well, new.

And if you're new to this corner of the Marvel universe (or just want to take a closer look), we went through the trailer frame-by-frame for an extended breakdown. Join us, won't you?

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The trailer opens with something we won't see much in the rest of the trailer: white guys. However, these two white guys should be familiar to fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. On the left is Everett K. Ross, a CIA agent who was initially introduced in Captain America: Civil War. On the right is Ulysses Klaue, a black market smuggler and arms dealer who first reared his loathsome head in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Despite these characters being introduced elsewhere, both are commonly associated with the Black Panther world in the Marvel comics. And this is not the first time actors Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis have shared a big scene together – they previously had a showdown in The Hobbit, where they played Bilbo Baggins and Gollum, respectively.

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This shot offers our first glimpse at what makes the fictional land of Wakanda so very cool and special. In most genre stories, wealth and technology seem to immediately westernize a nation of people. But not here. Instead, the secretive country of Wakanda is distinctly African while also being technologically advanced to the point of full-on science fiction.

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This is best summed up by T'Challa having an audience on a waterfall with people in traditional robes and garb...after he was dropped off by his personal super-jet. This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the wild afrofuturism featured elsewhere in the trailer. According to Entertainment Weekly, this is the Warrior Falls, where kings are coronated. As you may remember, T'Challa's father died in Civil War – this must be the ceremony to give him the throne.

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These opening shots also introduce our hero in style. First, we see some kind of heavily armed convoy making their way through the jungle. It's not clear who these people are, but Wakanda's borders are closed, which surely makes them intruders. They could be smugglers, looking to steal some of the nation's precious vibranium (which is the source of Wakanda's wealth and tech in addition to being the stuff in Captain America's shield). Could they be in league with Ulysses Klaue, who was smuggling vibranium in Age of Ultron?

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Black Panther is revealed in the treetops by the glow of a flashlight, leading to some action beats that feels more like something out of a Batman movie than a Marvel movie. T'Challa is much faster and much stronger than the average human (we'll touch on that in a moment), but surprise and fear are two key weapons in his arsenal. He makes quick work of these guys.

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Much like how the post-Avengers MCU movies went out of their way to remind audiences that Captain America has literal super-strength and can kick cars like tin cans, this trailer reminds us that Black Panther is strong enough to fling a foe into a car so hard that it crumples.

Black Panther Trailer Breakdown 9Civil War didn't have time to stop and breathe and explain what the deal is with T'Challa and why he can stand toe-to-toe with the Avengers. The new film will surely rectify that. In the comics, the Black Panther mantle is passed down over generations and the current bearer of the title has a special connection with the Wakandan Panther God and is allowed to eat a special Heart-Shaped herb that increases everything from strength to agility to senses. Despite the sci-fi tinge of Wakanda, there is a mystical streak running through the Black Panther world that could easily tie into the likes of Doctor Strange and Thor.Black Panther Trailer Breakdown 10

And finally, we see who is watching Ross interrogate Klaue: T'Challa himself and Okoye, his chief of security played by The Walking Dead's Danai Gurira. She's a member of the Dora Milaje, a group that we will see frequently throughout the rest of the trailer.

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Welcome to Wakanda! Cut off from the rest of the world and sitting on the world's largest supply of vibranium, the nation's capital puts every other city in the MCU to shame. As we will see in other shots, the city has not lost its heritage in a maze of futuristic skyscrapers.

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Underneath that paint is Academy Award winner Forrest Whitaker, playing Zuri, a Wakandan shaman and an important religious figure. As he is present for when T'Challa arrives on Warrior Falls, we can assume that he is the one directly in charge of the new king's coronation.

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We'll see more of him soon, but the man under this mask is Erik Killmonger, played by Ryan Coogler regular Michael B. Jordan. We'll talk more about him soon. But once again, the combination of his futuristic armor and tribal mask is unlike anything we've seen before in the MCU. In fact, the mask is a reference to his costume in the comics (but don't expect him to wear it too often in the film).

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And he has a gang. And some explosives. And that graffiti on the wall suggests that we are definitely not in Wakanda.

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It looks like Killmonger is rescuing Klaue, which implies that these two villains are in league with one another. While we're here, note that Klaue is missing his left arm and remember that it was chopped off by Ultron in the second Avengers movie. He's also missing an arm in the comics, where he straps a sonic emitter weapon to the stump. Surely we're going to see Andy Serkis with some kind of weaponized arm in this movie. Surely.

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Here's Nakia, another member of the Dora Milaje. She's played by Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong'o and she seems to be undercover in a casino. As we see in other shots, this area is the stage for a big action scene of some kind.

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Case in point: here is Danai Gurira's Okoye going to town on a henchman with a staff.

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Trouble in paradise? As you'd expect during any transition of power, not everyone is happy with their new, much younger king. As we see here, T'Challa is walking toward a group of people (soldiers and tribal leaders?), arms outstretched, as if he's welcoming a challenge.

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And he certainly doesn't look happy. When T'Challa isn't off saving the world with the Avengers, he's often navigating the political labyrinths and staving off coups in his homeland. It looks like Black Panther will find his rule challenged almost immediately.

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Here we see Klaue in his crew in disguise, breaking out weapons for a heist. They're clearly in a museum and the artifacts behind the glass look to be African in origin. The big question is what do these artifacts contain that will be of interest to an arms dealer? Pieces of vibraniun? Traces of the Heart-Shaped Herb that gives Black Panther his powers?

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As established early in the trailer, Wakanda is an isolated nation that deliberately hides in the shadows, steering clear of the international stage. For better or worse, it looks like T'Challa may intend to change that. Here he is speaking at the United Nations. As usual, the film doesn't seem to shy away from his African homeland, offering a splash of color to his wardrobe.

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Could this be why T'Challa is making so many enemies back home? Is his decision to meddle in international affairs going to turn his own people against him?

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Here's our best look at Michael B. Jordan's Killmonger, who sports one hell of a haircut. In the comics, Killmonger is a skilled martial artist who has a bone to pick with the Wakandan royal family for exiling his family after his father assisted a group of invading mercenaries. Raised overseas, he grew up with that grudge and dedicates his life avenging his family's dishonor. If the film follows the comic template, that will mean stirring up all kinds of internal strife for T'Challa to deal with. It should be noted that Killmonger has undergone some, well, pretty serious supernatural shit in the comics, but let's not dwell on that right now (it could prove spoilery). The man escorting him into the room is W'Kabi, played by Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya.

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Would Black Panther look like this if it wasn't directed by a black man? Surely not. Ryan Coogler is an enormously talented filmmaker and his dedication to keeping the world of Wakanda as vibrant and as African as possible is evident in every frame of this trailer. This trailer feels genuinely proud of the character's heritage and this is not something you see in many major Hollywood movies. This is how you keep superhero movies fresh.

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You may recognize Isaach De Bankolé as one of the villains in Casino Royale. Here, he seems to be playing someone of importance. Perhaps one of Wakanda's many tribal leaders? After all, he is gathered for a meeting in the throne room...

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When T'Challa enters a room, he enters a room in style. Even the camera has to tilt to properly show him off.

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Welcome to the Wakandan throne room, where the king and the various tribal leaders can meet and hash things out and negotiate and bargain and probably exchange threats. You'll note from the big doors in the back that this is where we saw Killmonger earlier in the trailer. It seems that he will be judged by leaders from every corner of the nation for his crimes.

Black Panther Trailer Breakdown 29Black Panther is going to be a real family affair. Pictured here: T'Challa's mother, Ramonda, played by the great Angela Bassett, and his sister Shuri, played by Letitia Wright. With other tribal leaders turned against him, it looks like the king of Wakanda is going to have to rely on his own blood relatives if he's going to stay alive. And wherever they're going, it seems that Everett Ross has tagged along as well.Black Panther Trailer Breakdown 30

In his earliest incarnations, Killmonger was just a skilled fighter. Or rather, he was a fighter skilled enough to stand toe-to-toe with the super-powered Black Panther. It's not clear how far the movie will take his character, but this shot confirms one thing: we'll get to see Michael B. Jordan kick a bunch of ass (while shirtless, as is the Marvel way).

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Speaking of Killmonger, here he is squaring off against members of the Dora Milaje. We've seen these red-armored ladies throughout the trailer and they have an important job in the nation of Wakanda: they are the king's bodyguards. In the comics, each member of the group represents a different Wakandan tribe and a long time ago, they were all intended to be potential spouses for an unmarried ruler. But now, they're just a bunch of badass lady warriors, all of them dedicated to to protecting the throne. As Wonder Woman showed us, audiences are hungry for ladies kicking ass in superhero movies. Black Panther may star a male lead, but he's surrounded by a number of women who can hold their own in a fight.

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While the Dora Milaje may be some of the toughest women in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they're going to have their hands full. This area appears to be the same location we previously saw in the trailer, where T'Challa was approaching that group of warriors and leaders with his arm raised...and something bad has gone down. In addition to dealing with the likes of Killmonger, it looks like they will also have to take on men from other Wakandan tribes that don't see eye-to-eye with the new king.

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The final stretch of this trailer is all about the women of Black Panther. Here are Nakia and Shuri, looking armed and dangerous and ready for a fight. The only thing more astonishing than the number of characters on display in this trailer are the quality actors cast in every single part.

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As T'Challa's sister, Shuri is a princess of Wakanda...but that doesn't make her a damsel in distress. Her comic book counterpart dreamed of being the first female Black Panther, only for her brother to take up the mantle instead. She may not have a costume, but she's just as tough as her super heroic sibling (although it's not clear if the MCU version of the character will have the same collection of eclectic powers her comic counterpart has picked up over the years).

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Meet M'Baku, played by actor Winston Duke. In the comics, this tribal leader is known as Man-Ape (don't expect that name to stick in the movie) and he leads the White Gorilla cult, who despise Wakanda's technological makeover and believe that the nation should return to its primitive ways. How he fits into the film remains unknown, but he's definitely the kind of guy Killmonger would want on his side.

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The final beat of the trailer is the most familiar: a CGI car crash, complete with Black Panther elegantly flipping through the air and landing on another vehicle. We've seen this kind of stuff before, but in a trailer that is otherwise jam-packed with stuff that feels new, this is totally okay. It should also be noted that this is definitely not Wakanda. How much of the movie will take place outside of T'Challa's home nation? We'll find out when the movie opens on February 16, 2018.