The Woman King First Look: Viola Davis Charges Into Battle In This Historical Epic

Do you want to see Viola Davis play the general of an all-women African military unit in a historical epic? Of course you do! That's why Sony Pictures green-lit "The Woman King," a film starring the Oscar-winning "Fences" and "The Suicide Squad" alum as Nanisca, the military leader who protected the real-world West African Kingdom of Dahomey (which existed from 1600 to 1904, give or take a year).

To kick off Black History Month, Sony has unveiled a pair of first-look images from "The Woman King." As you might expect, the focus here is squarely on Nanisca as she and her troops head into battle, with the general herself leading the charge. These photos were also posted to Davis' Twitter account with a message reading, "I'm deeply honored and excited to bring this incredible story of these badass female warriors to life. Get ready for THE WOMAN KING, exclusively in movie theaters this fall!!"

Viola Davis is Ready for Battle

Among those joining Davis in the "Woman King" cast are "The Underground Railroad" breakout star Thuso Mbedu as Nawi — an ambitious young recruit who joins Nanisca's unit — and Lashana Lynch ("Captain Marvel," "No Time to Die") as, one presumes, another member of Dahomey's army. Also onboard is "Star Wars" and "Small Axe" veteran John Boyega as King Ghezo, the monarch who ruled Dahomey from 1818-1858. Gina Prince-Bythewood, who directed "The Woman King" from a script she co-penned with Dana Stevens ("City of Angels," "Fatherhood"), had the following to say when Boyega's casting was announced in September 2021:

"I have been enamored by John's immense talent for years, but his speech to Black women during the [Black Lives Matter] protests cemented my desire to work with him. The description of King Ghezo reads, 'He walks as if the earth were honored by its burden.' John possesses that innate depth and swagger, and I'm so excited to put it on screen."

Prince-Bythewood, the filmmaker behind such acclaimed dramas as "Love & Basketball" and "Beyond the Lights," is coming off directing Netflix's comic book movie "The Old Guard," a film in which Charlize Theron played the leader of a pack of quasi-immortal warriors on a centuries-long mission to make the world a better place. As cool as that premise reads on paper, though, the movie itself played out like the prequel to a more exciting sequel — one that Prince-Bythewood isn't helming due to her commitment to "The Woman King." With that in mind, "The Old Guard" delivered the goods when it came to action and one-on-one combat, so I'm eager to see what Prince-Bythewood does with not just the fights but also the intriguing subject matter here.

"The Woman King" is currently scheduled to open in U.S. theaters on September 16, 2022.