Marvel brought its all to Hall H this weekend. Trailers and announcements for new MCU projects abounded. What stood out the most, however, is undoubtedly the first official Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) trailer. This highly anticipated sequel to Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther (2018) promises an emotional return to the characters and country we love — with the addition of new faces and locations guaranteed to make waves.
Watch the new Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer below or on Marvel Studios’ official YouTube channel. Then join us as we break down this thrilling footage.
Nakia and Queen Ramonda
The trailer opens with Tems’ cover of “No Woman, No Cry” and a stunning shot of Nakia as she stands on an empty beach. Contemplative, Nakia looks out upon the calm ocean while the sun rises. After a brief blank screen to catch our breath, we fade to Queen Ramonda and the Dora Milaje leader Okoye walking into a Wakandan lab. Then we meet Ramonda, the Dora, and other tribal royalty in the throne room.
Ramonda looks at place on the throne. Still, the image is jarring as, last we saw, T’Challa occupied this place. Now his mother, no doubt still mourning her son’s loss, rules in his stead. Light and shadows mingle to show both the sad and inspiring aspects of this moment.
Shuri and T’Challa
Fittingly, then, the next shot is a celebration or funeral of some sort. We know from Captain America: Civil War that most Wakandans consider death “more of a stepping off point.” Thus myriad dancers dressed in white move in rhythm toward the camera. Later in the trailer we’ll even see a mural dedicated to the late king (pictured above).
Princess Shuri, T’Challa’s sister, joins the procession with a contrasting expression. Despite the smiles around her, the princess clearly cannot feel such joy. Like T’Challa, Shuri is not so certain Bast and Sekhmet have taken her brother to paradise.
Life After Death
Part of what makes this trailer so incredible is that it’s a montage of moments. Nothing is linear. We don’t know the sequence of the events, yet they all tie so seamlessly together. The trailer is also moving and emotional without exploiting those feelings. Our sadness and, underneath, our excitement, is all mirrored by the characters we see onscreen.
Thus the main connective tissue is this overwhelming, hopeful idea that life goes on. This is emphasized by a scene depicting underwater birth — presumably Namor’s. Two Atlanteans float in a submerged area, and soon we see an infant in the midwife’s arms. Such a decision to follow a funeral type scene with a birth is powerful storytelling, whether or not the scenes actually follow each other in the film itself.
As confirmed at San Diego Comic-Con, actor Tenoch Huerta will play King Namor. Also known as the Sub-Mariner, Namor is the son of a sea captain and an Atlantean princess — in the comics, he’s also a mutant. We’ll be seeing a lot of Namor’s backstory throughout the movie. Namor and Black Panther are also notoriously longtime rivals. Based on the Wakanda Forever trailer, we can assume these two kingdoms will go to war.
Following our first look at Namor, a series of shots implying marine exploration and warfare hints at the clash of kingdoms. Large whales carry a host of weapon-wielding Atlanteans. A helicopter approaches a huge ship as it sails at night. Two deep-sea divers are lowered toward their next exploration. Finally, gun-toting soldiers force refugees to their knees inside another boat — it’s unclear whether or not it’s the same vessel.
Riri Williams / Ironheart
Per usual trailer style, around a minute and a half in we go into extreme montage mode. Quick glimpses that make you want to watch frame-by-frame tease what’s in store. Audiences are therefore treated to not only an exhilarating mix of Kendrick Lamar’s song “Alright,” but also new and old cameos that don’t give too much away. Like, for instance, we get a brief yet totally awesome look at Riri Williams AKA Ironheart.
Working in Shuri’s lab, Riri is dressed in a hot-rod red ensemble. This teen is a genius who is greatly inspired by Iron Man. In the Wakanda Forever trailer, Riri strikes an iron — or Vibranium? — shape from sheet metal that clearly resembles a heart. This young super hero will likely be instrumental in developing the next phase of the MCU.
In Black Panther, M’Baku wanted to take Wakanda’s throne for the Jabari Tribe. By the end, however, he stood with T’Challa against Erik Killmonger. Now it seems M’Baku will once again fight alongside our protagonists. Although he is not particularly present in the trailer, we do witness him leaping off a boat with his knobkerrie aimed at Namor. Similar to his last battle, M’Baku knows how to make an entrance.
Aneka and the Midnight Angels
Marvel comics readers will be excited to see Aneka. As the Dora Milaje’s combat trainer, Aneka is an important part of the book World of Wakanda in which she and her lover Ayo escape persecution for crimes against tribal leaders. Aneka’s blue armor is also indicative of an advanced suit developed in Marvel comics — an armor worn by a group calling themselves the Midnight Angels.
World of Wakanda is a complete series, and may be too complex to serve as a B plot if the main action is war against Atlantis. Still, the shot here does imply some sort of tension among the Dora Milaje, led of course by Okoye. Let’s just hope their internal strife doesn’t negatively impact the external conflict.
Fire and Water
Earlier in the trailer, we saw Shuri stand in the Wakanda throne room. Water flooded the floor, while fire streamed down from below. Toward the end of the trailer, we watch water burst into the throne room. Are these events related? Subsequent? What’s even more frightening is Ramonda’s speech. “My entire family is gone,” she tells an unseen audience. What does that imply in terms of Shuri’s fate? As the palace burns, our theories are alarming.
The Black Panther
Every frame of this fantastic trailer deserves dissection and speculation. However, the most talked about scene is the final shot. We hear claws extend in a familiar metallic fashion. Then we see a new Black Panther — well, their lower half, that is. Judging by the sand, they’ve come to Atlantis to fight or exact vengeance for the damage dealt to their homeland.
But who has taken up the Black Panther’s mantle? We can dismiss Erik Killmonger/N’Jadaka because he’s no longer alive. In Marvel comics, then, Shuri is the only other successor to T’Challa’s panther avatar in the 616 universe. But it wouldn’t be outlandish for Nakia to take up the title, either. We’ll likely have to keep guessing until the movie premieres later this year.