The most surprising thing about the first teaser for Marvel’s Black Panther is, on first viewing, how closely it hews to Warner Bros’ Wonder Woman, rather than any previous Marvel Studios production.
It’s not merely the fact that, like Wonder Woman, it serves an audience traditionally ignored by the white, male superhero movie genre, nor the fact that — again, like Wonder Woman — it looks more colorful than its studio brethren, or at least colorful in a different, warmer manner. Yes, Guardians of the Galaxy is a colorful movie, but garishly so; the same can be said of Warners’ Suicide Squad; both Wonder Woman and, judging by this trailer, Black Panther, place the homes of their titular characters in brighter, more glorious locales than the muted tones that audiences are used to.
But the way in which Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis, rocking a wonderful accent once again) introduces Wakanda catches the attention. A place of wonder, hidden from the rest of the world, where few can visit and fewer leave…? Surely that describes Wonder Woman‘s Themyscira, as much as the African nation of Wakanda — at least, the Wakanda that comic book audiences might be used to. (The Wakanda of comics might be withdrawn from the rest of the world, but it’s hardly the El Dorado that Klaue describes in this trailer.)
It’s a curious change, one that immediately places the Wakandans as “other” in the same way that Wonder Woman‘s Amazons are, only without the mythological explanation as to why that might be the case. (We’ll see if the movie provides one, perhaps when and if it explains the origins of the nation’s unique mineral, Vibranium.) The change also places T’Challa, the Black Panther of the title, as Marvel’s version of Wonder Woman — royalty who leaves his kingdom for the good of the world. Except, of course, the Black Panther movie sees him return from his mission abroad in Captain America: Civil War, only to find that all is not well in his kingdom. Perhaps, in that case, this could be looked at as a spiritual sequel to Wonder Woman…?
For those reasons — the similar spirit of expansion of superhero diversity and audiences, the surprising visual parallels in terms of palette, the unexpected narrative threads that connect the two — the Black Panther trailer feels impeccably timed, and exciting in a way that few superhero trailers manage to be these days. This might be, in fact, the most exciting one since — of course — the first Wonder Woman teaser last year.
If nothing else, it’s something that reminds audiences that, while Wonder Woman is likely a game changer for the superhero movie genre in a number of ways, Marvel still has some tricks left up its sleeve yet. And, as can be seen when Danai Gurira moves into action, some wonder women of its own.