Sunday, June 11, 2017

Black Panther Is Coming! Woo Hoo!

The Black Panther Teaser Trailer Promises an Afrofuturist Wonderland (Plus Superheroes)

The teaser trailer for Black Panther was released Friday, giving audiences their first look at director Ryan Coogler’s take on the superhero genre. And it looks spectacular, packed with stunning Afrofuturist imagery, sweeping vistas, and seemingly every currently-hot black actor who wasn’t already part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


It’s an expertly constructed trailer, too, opening with a shot of a buzzing florescent light before spending a long time in a blue-tinted room with grey-tinted actors Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis. 

Freeman plays Black Panther sidekick Everett K. Ross and Serkis plays Black Panther nemesis Ulysses Klaue, but the important thing is that every ounce of color has been sucked out of cinematographer Rachel Morrison’s frame, paving the way for a Wizard of Oz-style reveal of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. Given the film industry’s long history of racism (the literal film industry: color film stock was designed to showcase white skin) there’s karma in Coogler and Morrison’s decision to light Freeman and Serkis so grimly before cutting to gorgeous shots of Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Forrest Whittakker Angela Bassett, and the rest of the cast. It almost makes up for the obligatory shots of Black Panther walking fearlessly through a hail of bullets (henchmen never learn!) and doing a CGI flip from one speeding car to another. (It may not make up for the fact that Jordan’s character is named “Erik Killmonger.”) But the trailer makes clear that from a visual standpoint, Black Panther will be beautiful.

It’s not the first time Marvel Cinematic Universe has gone full fantasia—the Thor movies look like they were shot on location inside a Manowar album—but it is the first time Marvel has made a movie about a black superhero or hired a black director. As such, Black Panther, like DC’s Wonder Woman before it, will arrive in theaters weighted down with expectations it doesn’t entirely deserve. (Meanwhile, Taika Waititi—the half-Māori director who will be the first person of color to direct a Marvel feature—gets to make Thor: Ragnarok without it being read as some big political statement.) But if anyone can handle that kind of pressure, surely it’s the director who managed to get people excited about another Rocky sequel. Black Panther will arrive in theaters on Feb. 16, 2018.


Matthew Dessem is Brow Beat’s nights and weekends editor and the author of a biography of screenwriter and director Clyde Bruckman.

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