It’s kind of hard to bemoan Hollywood’s obsession with superhero movies after watching the thrilling new Black Panther trailer. Soundtracked by a pulsating Vince Staples and Gil Scott Heron mashup—this thing absolutely crackles, and looks different than any of its Marvel predecessors.
After getting a glimpse of Wakanda in last year’s buzzy first teaser, the curtain is finally pulled back on the mysterious fictional nation, which seems to be in the midst of some major political turmoil. Sounds familiar.
Chadwick Boseman stars as T’Challa, Wakanda’s newly crowned head of state who moonlights as a gravity-defying crime fighter. It looks like he has his work cut out for him as outside forces, led by Michael B. Jordan’s Eric Killmonger, are looking to seize control of the nation and its remarkable resources. It’s up to Black Panther and his allies—they include Angela Bassett as his mother, Lupita Nyong’o as his potential love interest, and Danai Gurira as the head of his all-female squad of badass bodyguards—to preserve the many things that make Wakanda special.
The gist of the movie sounds familiar, but don’t let that discourage you. Yes, our hero must save the world and protect the people he loves from a great evil. That’s the backbone of any great superhero movie and it always will be. It’s the shades and textures courtesy of director Ryan Coogler’s unqiue vision that makes Marvel’s latest outing look so spectacular.
Coogler has said that Black Panther will be his most personal movie yet, which is hard to believe coming from the same man who made Fruitvale Station, an intimate portrait of Oscar Grant, the Oakland native who was shot and killed by police (Coogler is from Oakland).
But the new trailer suggests that Coogler was allowed to make the movie he wanted to make. The cast is 90% black, and the wardrobe, music and dialect are proof that this will look and feel like a blockbuster made by black people—a rarity in Hollywood.
The success of Wonder Woman revealed that audiences are willing to embrace different kinds superhero stories, and studios are finally clueing in. Both Coogler and Boseman have talked openly about how much pressure they feel to deliver a movie that not only succeeds, but one that paves the way for more diverse stories moving forward.
But based on the deafening advanced buzz ahead of Black Panther’s February 16 release, it looks like they have nothing to worry about.