The Dora Milaje are coming so, to quote the warriors of Wakanda, move or you will be moved.
Marvel sneaked a Black Panther sizzle reel and some hot-off-the-set dailies at the studio’s open house event Monday night. It was the first Black Panther footage seen anywhere, and it came as a surprise for reporters where just expecting a walkthrough of Marvel’s offices in Burbank.
From the footage here’s what we know about Black Panther: Chadwick Boseman may be playing the King of Wakanda, but there’s no way his T’Challa is the only star of this movie the warrior women of Black Panther are going to be its vibrant force.
The footage is sure to please Marvel fans everywhere, many of whom have been yearning for more of the Dora Milaje since their appearance in Civil War when confront Black Widow while escorting T’Challa to his car.
The Dora Milaje are the Wakandan king’s all-female bodyguard corps that’s also an elite strike force for the technologically superior nation. Though the cameo (above) is Florence Kasumba (who returns as Ayo in Black Panther), much of what we saw in the Black Panther sizzle is focused on Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Okoye (Danai Gurira, The Walking Dead).
And make no mistake: The Dora Milaje do plenty of heavy lifting in the film. From concept art hanging on an office wall to VFX shots in the sizzle reel to Nyong’o taking out a half-dozen armed soldiers in a scene shot earlier Monday, we got eyeful after eyeful of the Dora Milaje on duty.
Not all of what we saw of the Dora Milaje combat we also got to see them presiding over a kaleidoscopic yet solemn ceremony to crown a new, untested king. That scene was a distinct diversion from the film’s palette: a bold, contrast-heavy black & white world punctuated with dabs of reds and golds. All the gravity afforded a royal saga is in the designs, including tech and architecture jagged but fleet flying machines and glittering, steely spires and it all fits the mood of majestic mystery.
“The story’s just gonna be very honest and grim.”
“The story’s just gonna be very honest and grim,” director Ryan Coolger says in the sizzle. Nyong’o adds: “The main thrust is tradition vs. progress, and the issue of secrets.”
Marvel head Kevin Feige confirmed that the film takes place “pretty close to the events of Civil War,” during which the reigning King of Wakanda T’Challa’s father is assassinated.
For Bozeman, the looming responsibility “gives the character something to grapple with,” Coogler said.
A lot of we saw Monday dealt in that moment of the (peaceful?) transfer of power. Black Panther is mid-production in Atlanta, so much of what Marvel showed was far from finished and chosen only by chance like the two different shots with boats full of people (in front of blue screens) on their way to that fateful coronation.
There was also a casino shootout between villain Klaw (Andy Serkis) and the Wakandan royal entourage (in which T’Challa wisely leaves most of the fight in the expert care of his security detail).
All in all, it was a healthy dose of goodies from a previously unseen film that’s halfway shot, much of it completely raw or in some unfinished state, with no trailer on the immediate horizon.
Throughout, one thing was abundantly clear: The Dora Milaje are no mere protectors of a king. They are the warriors of Wakanda and if T’Challa doesn’t watch his back, they just might steal the show in Black Panther.
Black Panther will hit theaters February 16, 2018.
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