Everything We Learned From The Black Panther Teaser Trailer

By Katharine Trendacosta on at

We got our first good look at Black Panther last night. It was great and shockingly revealing preview of how things are going to go in the final film. As usual, we dissected the whole thing for you.

The trailer starts in an interrogation in a safehouse in what's been confirmed to be Korea. Both men should be familiar to you from previous movies. On the right is Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), also known in the comics as simply Klaw, an arms dealer who has dealt in stolen Wakandan uranium and once attempted to assassinate T'Chaka (John Kani). His missing arm is due to an altercation with Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

In the comics, he replaces his arm with a "sound generator." In this film, his new arm is a "a piece of advanced Wakandan mining equipment." We never actually see it in the trailer here, but there are hints as to what it might look like.

On the left is CIA agent Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman), who popped up in Civil War in command of the Joint Counter Terrorist Centre working "with" the registered Avengers after the Sokovia Accords. We saw him be an extra-legal interrogator in that movie, too.

The shot of Wakanda follows Klaue saying, "What do you know about Wakanda?"

Everett: "It's a third world country. Textiles, shepherds, cool outfits."

Klaue: "All a front. Explorers have searched for it, called it El Dorado. They looked for it in South America, but it was in Africa the whole time. I'm the only one who's seen it and made it out alive."

Klaue's line is backed up by the shot of T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) in this high-tech-meets-longstanding-'ritual type room that opens before him. I'm pretty sure this is him exiting the Royal Talon Fighter, his personal shuttle.

And T'Challa walks down into water.

Where he's confronted by the representatives of all the tribes and Forest Whitaker's Zuri, a name given to a Wakandan warrior in the comics but in the movie, he's more like a spiritual leader and shaman.

We've been told this is T'Challa ascending to kingship after the death of his father in Civil War. Wakanda has many clans, and they're all gathered. Warrior Falls is very important in a comic book plot that this movie definitely seems to be replicating.

This look at the the Royal Talon Fighter is the first real glimpse we get at how advanced Wakanda is.

We see only a tiny bit of this fight scene, but it's important to know that Wakanda hides its rich stores of vibranium (seen most often in the movies as the metal Cap's shield is made out of) and the fact that it's the most technologically advanced society in the world.

In the comics, Wakanda guarded itself with a strict isolationism. The movies are adding a layer of deception on top of that, with Wakanda participating enough to let everyone think it's a poor country.

With the framing of Klaue's words, it definitely seems like we're supposed to interpret this as Black Panther eliminating an incursion into Wakanda with extreme prejudice.

This scene shows of the bullet-proofness of the suit and the extra strength that the tribal leader of the Panther Clan gets from a connection to the Panther God and the mysterious and vibranium-radiation-emitting Heart-Shaped Herb.

Of course, that's all in the comics. How much of that particular source of power will make it into the movie is unknown. Before Doctor Strange, I would have thought they'd stick to the sciencey sounding Heart-Shaped Herb properties. But with Earth mysticism established in this universe, it can be a bit of both. Marvel president Kevin Feige says they still won't be calling this "magic" though.

Watching the interrogation is T'Challa and Okoye (Danai Gurira), a member of the Dora Milaje, a Wakandan order of warrior women who serve as body guards, valets, and wives-in-training of the Wakandan king. Okoye is the leader of the Dora Milaje in the MCU.

Neither of them look particularly happy for Klaue to be spilling the secrets of Wakanda, even though T'Challa did a fair bit of that running around in his suit in Civil War.

More of the Royal Talon Fighter and an advanced city, which is right out of concept art we saw a while back.

"The world is changing,"

More Zuri, this time preparing the Heart-Shaped Herb for T'Challa.

Klaue is rescued by this masked character — a bit more on the mask aspect later — and some other mercenary-types. We do know that it was Killmonger in the mask.

At last year's San Diego Comic-Con, Lupita Nyong'o described the plot of the movie this way, "Black Panther's leadership is really threatened by two foes who come together." Now, we actually see three possible villains in this teaser: Klaue, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), and M'Baku/Man-Ape (Winston Duke).

Killmonger's comic book backstory is tied to Klaue's. His father was forced to help Klaue and his mercenaries when he came to Wakanda, and the family was exiled as a result.

It's possible that the brief jungle fight with Black Panther is a flashback to Klaue and his mercenaries getting help, and that Killmonger's father is among the characters we saw there. That would make the Black Panther in that scene T'Chaka and not T'Challa, who would be too young.

Alternately, the jungle fight is from a later incursion led by Killmonger and fought by T'Challa, and it's what leads to Killmonger getting brought in to the tribal leaders as a prisoner.

That could be adapted to either Killmonger showing up here to wreak vengeance on Klaue or that the young Killmonger ended up orphaned and and working for Klaue/the exiled family had no other place to turn after.

Right before the wall explodes, if you freeze-frame it, you can see that Nakia (Nyong'o) is also in Korea with T'Challa and Okoye.

This bit has Nakia and Okoye in a casino in what is almost certainly also Korea, based on the costumes.

Based on the design and clientele, this casino also looks to be in Korea.

I'd guess that either they're hunting down Klaue after he escapes or this is the operation that leads to his capture.

Outside a vibranium mine, a maskless T'Challa greets assembled Dora Milaje and tribal leaders.

This pose could either show he doesn't have weapons or be invitation for them to come at him.

This looks like Klaue and his mercenaries robbing a museum of Wakandan artifacts, including masks. This event could trigger T'Challa's involvement in the capture of Klaue in the first place — a luxury casino's a good place to do underhanded business — and it could be the source of the masks worn by the people who break Klaue out later.

I also wonder if taking these artifacts is at all related to Killmonger's comic book creation of a synthetic Heart-Shaped Herb to give himself Black Panther-esque powers (the actual herb poisoned him when he tried it).

This whole time, we're getting a voiceover that says, "The world is changing. Soon there will only be the conquered and the conquerers."

I don't think that's the speech T'Challa is giving at the United Nations but this is a sign that T'Challa is keeping up Wakanda's place in the UN, even after his father died and even though his nation has a strong bias against outsiders.

Note the climate change maps on the screens at T'Challa's UN address.

Here's our first real look at Killmonger, and he looks very much like he's being presented as a criminal. Note the doors behind him, which place this firmly in throne room of Wakanda, with loyal T'Challa advisor W'Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) behind him.

This is a tribal elder played by Isaach De Bankolé (Casino Royale).

I just wanted to remind you how awesome the Dora Milaje are.

This image from above shows a circle of advisors/counselors. Across from De Bankolé's character is Ramonda (Angela Bassett), the widowed Queen Mother. She's been persistently described as T'Challa's mother, even though her comic book counterpart is his stepmother.

A better look at a Ramonda, who is part of a party of Dora Milaje, T'Challa's sister T'Challa's sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright) and...

Everett Ross. I forget, do the Wakandans like outsiders? Oh, right, they hate them and a bunch of them probably see Ross learning about their secrets as a giant failure on T'Challa's part. Also bringing him anywhere cannot be a good thing.

By the way, a word on Nakia, Nyong'o's character: her comic book background makes her a Dora Milaje who falls in love with T'Challa, is forced out of the order in disgrace, gets almost killed, is resurrected by Killmonger, and becomes the villain Malice. So there's every chance her loyalty in this movie changes.

We saw T'Challa with the sword and shield before. And at the Warrior Falls. And with all the tribes looking on. This could very well be a continuation of that scene. Or a later version of it, where T'Challa is called upon to defend his leadership against Killmonger's challenge.

In the comics, T'Challa and Killmonger have fought at Warrior Falls often. He's even beaten T'Challa there and claimed leadership of the Panther Clan. Granted, he's also died there. So any outcome is possible.

The voiceover has been continuing, "You're a good man. With a good heart. And it's hard for a good man to become a king."

Killmonger takes on a group of Dora Milaje. His costume here almost seems to be a perversion of the Black Panther suit — all black, with the necklace. Symbolizing his use of an herb/synthetic herb he is not supposed to have perhaps?

The background looks like the vibranium mine to me.

It's not Killmonger alone challenging T'Challa. The official Marvel synopsis for the movie includes the line, "T'Challa soon finds that he is challenged for the throne from factions within his own country." Tribes unhappy with his leadership, perhaps? Unhappy with T'Challa's time in the outside world?

Shuri and Nakia are ready to fight — I'd almost guess this fight scene takes place before the scene in the snow, with this battle driving them and Ross into the hills to hide.

These are more high-tech weapons then we've seen before and it kind of resemble's Klaw's comic book look:

Image: Marvel

This could be a preview into the tech he steals for his new arm.

We barely see M'Baku in this trailer, but with Nakia and Shuri in the foreground — in their battle gear — points to him being part of the fight scene we've been watching. Which means M'Baku and Killmonger could be working together.

We know from a set picture that this car chase was filmed in Busan, South Korea. That probably makes it part of the sequences we saw earlier — either chasing Klaw down after he escapes — although this is at night and the explosive entry to Klaw's interrogation is clearly during the day — or after the fight breaks out at the casino. I'm guessing the latter.

The theme of this movie is T'Challa becoming king, not only in assuming the role his father recently held, but fighting off challengers and internal dissension over his actions.

Missing entirely from this trailer? Any hint at other Marvel heroes popping up. Or even Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), who ended up in Wakanda at the end of Civil War. While this movie is clearly set in the world the other movies have created, this trailer seems to indicate that the movie is absolutely centered on T'Challa and Wakanda. That's as it should be for his solo movie.