Friday night was supposed to be about the Golden State Warriors sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers in the teams’ third straight NBA Finals face off. An upset by Cleveland prevented that, but the internet was fixated on something else:
The sneak attack from Marvel and Disney had Twitter in a frenzy, comic book fans reeling, and Black America in disbelief. An action film with a Black cast? And they’re wearing Afro-futuristic gear, face paint and fighting with spears? While the poster and trailer was announced that morning, nothing could have prepared us for those two minutes of Black excellence. Some folks are already calling it the best film ever, while others are working on outfits for opening night.
But wait: who is this cat and what’s the film about? Don’t sweat the details—we’ve got you covered.
Here’s everything you need to know before February 2018.
1 Who (or what) is the Black Panther?
Glad you asked. Chadwick Boseman will be playing the Black Panther, a fictional hero from Eastern Africa. The character has been around for some time, making his first appearance in 1966. From the time he fought the Fantastic Four to his newest series by Ta-Nehisi Coates, he has quite a bit of history. His live action debut was in Captain America: Civil War, (which you can watch on Netflix, if you haven’t). Boseman’s take on the character was praised by critics, and the announcement of a solo film was a dream come true for some. True to the comics, he is a member of the Avengers and will be seen in the upcoming sequel. But this is his solo outing, and you won’t see Iron Man or the Hulk here—not unless they show up in a post-credits cameo.
2 What is this futuristic place seen throughout the trailer?
The film will mostly take place in his home nation: Wakanda. Situated near Ethiopia, it’s one of the richest and technologically advanced nations within Marvel comics. Wakanda’s wealth comes from owning a fictional mineral called “vibranium,” which was used to make Captain America’s shield. They are envied by the rest of the world because of this, and the Black Panther is richer than the billionaire Tony Stark—a.k.a. Iron Man. He will become the king of Wakanda since his father was killed in Captain America: Civil War. Judging by the trailer and previous storylines, this will not be an easy task for him.
3 What is Michael B. Jordan doing in the trailer?
Michael B. Jordan will play Killmonger, a foe of the Black Panther. In the comics, Killmonger’s family was kicked out of Wakanda, and he returns for revenge. It’s very likely he will be helping Ulysses Klawe, a mercenary who wants to rob Wakanda of its vibranium wealth. Klawe, who is being played by Andy Serkis, first appeared in the Avengers: Age of Ultron film. Adding to the Black Panther’s troubles is M’Baku, a Wakandan leader who wants to overthrow the king. With the death of his father and events threatening the secrecy of Wakanda, the Black Panther will have to unite his nation before a bigger threat arrives.
4 Who are all the sisters in the trailer?
The Black Panther is a badass, but he can’t do everything by himself. He rolls with the Dora Milaje, the all-woman combat group that protects him. Danai Gurira will play the head of this group, while Lupita Nyong’o stars as the woman who might fall in love with him. His sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), the tech genius of Wakanda, can be seen in the trailer with the high tech gear. Angela Bassett also appears as his mother, sporting white braids and a flawless complexion (as always). Others like Forest Whitaker and Daniel Kaluuya (you know, from Get Out) will be part of his counsel, and there’s still more that hasn’t been revealed yet.
5 We’re in. But it doesn’t come out until next year, right?
Yeah, that’s the hard part. After witnessing so much action and unapologetic Black excellence, it’s hard to wait until February 2018. This is a superhero film with a Black cast, and an enormous budget never given to Black films. Black superheroes like Blade, Storm and Spawn are no strangers to the big screen, but this is something else. If a film like Meteor Man was for Black folks, Black Panther could change the game and influence a whole generation—and hopefully Hollywood.
But we have to wait a few months: Ryan Coogler is editing the film as we speak. Until then, watch the trailer for the 70th time and say to yourself, “what a time.”