It's been hard getting anything done today. Days like this, where Marvel starts off the week with the amazingly beautiful new trailer for Black Panther? On a Monday morning? How am expected to get anything done? Just look at the excellence above.
Without saying outright what the plot for this film is, Marvel appeared to up the ante, bringing the world of the Warrior King to life with dazzling special effects, acrobatic flips, and all of the blackness Hollywood has to offer. One of the things I've noticed is that this movie is so black that people who don't even rock with Marvel's Cinematic Universe (MCU), comic books, or anything even remotely superhero-y are waiting for the date they can cop their tickets (and the finest in Black Panther garb) in anticipation for what's sure to be the blackest superhero film, ever.
For those of you who want to know a bit about T'Challa and the Black Panther before it arrives in theaters on Feb. 16, 2018, don't fret; I'm here to give you a brief primer on the Black Panther so that, in the very least, you can fake it around your more versed squad members.
Black Panther is the first mainstream black superhero
While the late 1960s and early 1970s saw a number of black superheroes being introduced (including Luke Cage, Black Lightning, and Falcon), Black Panther first appeared in 1966 via the pages of Fantastic Four.
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Black Panther is the alter-ego of T'Challa, the King of Wakanda, an African nation that's very wealthy due to the abundance of the mineral known as vibranium on its land. For those who are unaware, vibranium is ultra-resilient, and is primarily what's used in Captain America's virtually-indestructible shield (and weaved into Black Panther's outfit). T'Challa's father, T'Chaka, recognized the importance of this mineral, and decided to 1) hide Wakanda from the rest of the world while 2) selling off small chunks of the mineral, which made Wakanda so wealthy, as well as so technologically-advanced.
He rolls with some strong women
While Wakanda has its own armed forces, the Black Panther has his own personal guard, known as the Dora Milaje. These women are recruited from each of the different tribes across Wakanda and are also seen as potential queens for T'Challa, although two of the most prominent Dora (Nakia and Okoye) were more like daughters to T'Challa.
If you want a quick look at what a member of the Dora Mijale looks like, we got a glimpse of Florence Kasumba as Ayo in Captain America: Civil War. They have striking features, as extremely fit, extremely bald Wakandan women who, for lack of a better term, don't take shit off of anyone, especially when it comes to the Black Panther.
Lupita Nyong'o and Danai Gurira will portray Nakia and Okoye, respectively; Nakia's being described as a "war dog" in this film, whike Okoye is the head of the Dora Milaje.
T'Challa also has a sister, Shuri, who is not only Wakanda's princess but also designs the tech for T'Challa's Black Panther alter-ego.
He's got enemies, got a lot of enemies
While we didn't meet T'Challa in the MCU until Civil War, we got to meet one of his adversaries, Ulysses Klaue, in 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron where he—you guessed it—was in possession of vibranium that Ultron was trying to get his hands on. In the comics, Klaue's codename is Klaw, and he has a sonic converter that's powered by vibranium that allows him to attack him with sounds. In the MCU, he's more of a straight-up arms dealer who ends up being a thorn in the Black Panther's side.
Based on the trailer, it looks like he links up with Erik Killmonger (birth name: N'Jadaka), who is portrayed by Michael B. Jordan. Back in July, Jordan perfectly broke down Killmonger's relationship with T'Challa: "The best way to describe him and T'Challa's relationship is Magneto and Professor X."
In the comics, Killmonger's father worked alongside Klaw, which caused T'Challa to exile Killmonger's family. While living in New York, Killmonger developed a hate for both Klaw and T'Challa, and decided to set up a ruse where he'd get brought back to Wakanda with the plan of overthrowing T'Challa from Wakandan rule. Judging from this new trailer, we're getting all kinds of confrontation between T'Challa and Killmonger.
This is the blackest thing Marvel has ever done
With a cast that features everyone from Chadwick Boseman to Angela Bassett (who portray's T'Challa's mother), Marvel was already destined to take us there with Black Panther, but it's deeper than that. The bumps on Killmonger's body? Those are tribal scars that call back to the scar tattoos of the Mursi and Surma tribes. There's a number of callbacks and references to African nations in the film, which involved Coogler and his designer Hannah Beachler (who worked with Coogler on Creed and also has credits on Moonlight and the visual film for Beyoncé's Lemonade) traveling to African and gaining an understanding of the different nations and cultures within the vast continent. It will be a real treat to see Africa brought to life in this film, and hopefully makes more people want to learn about their roots.
Black Panther has been a long time coming
How long? Wesley Snipes, who brought the black vampire hunter known as Blade to the silver screen in 1998, was talking about portraying the Black Panther in a film... in 1992. It was said that for four years the film had been in development, but Stan Lee wasn't happy with the scripts that were being turned in, although for years, Snipes would mention his intention on producing (and possibly starring) in a Black Panther movie. He said in a 2002 interview he was "slated to" be working on the film. Two years later, the thought was that Snipes was already three films deep with Blade, and picking up another Marvel property would be overkill.
At one point, John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood) was said to have been on the list of people to work on a Black Panther film, as was Reginald Hudlin at one point, but it wasn't until the hiring of Nate Moore at Marvel Studios to oversee the project that it feels like Marvel started to take it seriously. Boseman said they were "brainstorming" the film in 2015, which also saw both Ava DuVernay and F. Gary Gray mentioned as talking to Disney about directing the film before Coogler was officially announced as the director (and co-writer) on the film in January of 2016.
We finally got to see Boseman as the Black Panther on-screen in 2016's Captain America: Civil War, and for many of us who grew up being aware of the Wakandan King as a force in the comics, it was beautiful to see this character fully-realized on-screen. With the decisions Marvel made both in front of and behind the camera for this epic display of blackness, I'm glad the film took its time to gestate. No reason to rush out a half-assed attempt and do it poorly.
Black Panther hits theaters on Feb. 16, 2018. Be prepared.