The Woman King Footage Reaction: Viola Davis Gets Badass With Blades As An African Warrior [CinemaCon 2022]

"The Woman King" was a project six years in the making for Oscar winner Viola Davis, who stars in the film as Nanisca, the leader of an all-woman military unit who once guarded the historical West African Kingdom of Dahomey. Directed by Gina Prince-Bythwood and co-written by Prince-Bythwood and Dana Stevens,"The Woman King" debuted its first footage at this week's CinemaCon event in Las Vegas, and we've got a description of the footage below.

Taking the stage at CinemaCon, Prince-Bythwood said, "Every director wants to work with Viola Davis, because to do so gives you the opportunity to touch greatness." Remarking on the movie's scale as a historical epic action drama, the director added, "We get to be enveloped by the bigness and swept away."

"The Woman King," Prince-Bythwood noted, features an "ensemble of the dopest actors of this moment from all over the diaspora to embody [Nanisca's] warriors." The cast includes John Boyega and "No Time to Die" costar Lashana Lynch. However, it puts Davis out in front as the lead, and according to Prince-Bythwood, she had an "unquenchable desire for excellence" and "kicks ass in this film." 

After a highlight reel of her career played, Davis herself came out on stage to accept the convention's Trailblazer of the Year award. Davis began by saying, "The five words I don't want to take to my grave would be 'I was not brave enough.'" She said she wanted to be a producer who championed Black stories and talked about how seeing the late actress Cicely Tyson for the first time radicalized her to believe in something bigger than her world.

"The Woman King," Davis said, is her "magnum opus." She said it was "a labor of love, bravery, courage, and excellence," and "it was the absolute conduit with introducing a whole area of storytelling to the world."

Check out our description of "The Woman King" footage below.

The Woman King footage description

The footage opens around a campfire, as a tribe of warriors is attacked by another tribe in the dark. Ships are then seen arriving on the shores with white passengers. John Boyega's character seems to be a king of some sort. Nanisca asks him to go to war and says, "Some things are worth fighting for."

The King's Guard, "the most elite warriors the world has ever known," are then shown training in a way that recalls the Dora Milaje from "Black Panther." Nanisca says, "Fight or we die," and there are lots of blades. She adds, "We fight for the future, we are the spear of victory, we are the blade of freedom!"

As Nanisca, Davis looks absolutely badass, muscles jacked, like she could rip anyone apart on a battlefield. Prior to the footage reveal, the Oscar winner said, "As an actor, I wanted to play characters that had never been seen before in a body that looked like mine."

You'll be able to see Davis as Nanisca in "The Woman King" when it opens exclusively in theaters on September 16, 2022.