An introduction fit for a king
The year was 2017, and the seeds of social unrest over civil injustice were taking hold and influencing the zeitgeist just as Black Panther, the first MCU movie led by a black actor, was about to be released. .
Our team understood early on that this was not just an ordinary film, but something special that reflected a cultural moment. Inspired by the gravity of the mission, we have implemented a massive collaborative effort in an effort to honor the stunning source material.
Over 50 million views on YouTube and $1.3 billion at the box office later, and the rest is history…
The chance to work on this trailer was given to us by our amazing Disney clients: John “Ibby” Ibsen, SVP of Creative Publicity, and Lauren Wright, VP of Creative Publicity. Having teamed up with Ibby in the past, we knew we had the advantage of an ideal collaborator who could provide singular creative guidance and support, so we were excited to take the plunge. They immediately got us in on the action with their creative direction – Black Panther was all about old meets new. An ancient civilization with high-tech prowess. It was our starting point. It was clear that Ibby and Lauren wanted to raise the bar with this trailer by challenging us to make a real statement. And we delivered.
In preparation, we’ve assembled a team of visionaries to take on the task, with Create Executive Vice President Michael Trice (now Disney’s Vice President of Creative Publicity) and Vice President Zoe Chau leading the process. , and industry veteran Brendan Lambe, who handles editorial writing. This core team was supported by several divisions of Create, including the writing team led by our head writer, Dee Dee Cecil, and Esther Aronson during the concept phase, as well as our music team, led by the head of music Heather Kreamer and music supervisor Craig Thompson.
With the help of our partners at Disney, our collaboration even extended to director Ryan Coogler himself, who supported the process and helped Vince Staples lend his lyrical talents to make this a truly trailer experience. unique.
In a crowded cinematic universe, where every existing Marvel superhero already grabs the viewer’s attention, a punchy introduction is paramount. We weren’t just introducing a new superhero, we were also giving audiences a first look at its distinctive setting: Wakanda.
Critical for both the plot and the identity of Black Panther, we knew Wakanda’s big reveal to audiences had to create a sense of awe. The speech by Agent Ross, a CIA veteran who has “seen it all”, provided a clear and digestible way to serve as the audience’s point of view. The line, “Where did you hide that?” sets the stage for the movie, and T’Challa’s cold confidence in her response sets the tone for her character.
Then the goal was to take the audience deeper into the details of a hyper-advanced nation that is defined as much by its traditional culture as it is by its technology, incorporating our core strategy of juxtaposing old and the new through contrasting visuals like the ancient ritual combat followed by a look at Black Panther’s all-new high-tech costume.
Once the hero and his kingdom were established, and with the backend hitting like a bomb with Vince Staples’ “BagBak,” we introduced our villain Erik Killmonger to up the stakes. Then it was time for a fashionable montage to take us out, our goal being to establish the action-packed moments and introduce the film’s great scope.
This structure allowed us to effectively integrate minimal yet impactful dialogue and create a clear visualization of the battle lines throughout, highlighting the differences in how T’Challa and Killmonger viewed both the world and the conflict in the film itself… all without revealing too much.
It was a balanced approach that demonstrates how a little can go a long way, allowing us to tell a clear story while keeping it simple and engaging enough to drive audiences to theaters to experience more.
The look and the sound
While the structure clearly conveyed the dynamics of the film, it was the look and sound that made this trailer a truly differentiated experience.
Early in the process, our team thought that Gil Scott-Heron’s protest song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” could play a vital role for a groundbreaking film in itself.
We combined this incisive and influential song with the energetic and searing “BagBak”. The confident, provocative energy of the song resonated deeply with the film, and we wanted to draw these lyrics the same way we drew Gil Scott-Heron’s.
It was by mixing these two that the real work began.
Hit all the right beats
In the preliminary stages, several composers told us it was a near impossible task, but the end result was executed through the combined efforts of our editor Brendan Lambe and the creative guidance and expertise of our music team. Along the way, we relied on the support of our label and composer partners, and it was the collaboration of an entire village that was essential to enable the mashup of three different tracks on top of each other.
But we didn’t stop there. Vince Staples gave us more than an amazing song. After director Ryan Coogler reached out to the artist, Vince Staples generously came into the studio to add additional voices that took the trailer to another level.
Harnessing the Beauty of Afro-Futurism
This singular sound clearly needed visuals to match. We wanted it to feel like an authentic extension of the themes that define Black Panther and Wakanda, while paying homage to what makes the film stand out as a creative and cultural force.
This led us to focus on the beautifully rich themes of Afrofuturism, an aesthetic and philosophical exploration that played a key role in Ryan Coogler’s vision. Much like the movement itself, we mixed and juxtaposed the contemporary futuristic with the traditional, and in doing so we avoided making the trailer too modern or too old, but a mix of both to create something fresh.
Ibby, in addition to providing key guidance throughout the process, also gave us the opportunity to create an even more distinct identity through custom VFX shots which really elevated our narrative. A good example of this was the feature at the very end with T’Challa opening his claws, an interesting twist of truth that looked cool and created a very compelling final moment to leave the audience.
make a mark
Black Panther wasn’t just a great movie; it was necessary. We were honored to contribute to such a historic and groundbreaking film, and to work so closely with a character that Chadwick Boseman poured his heart, soul and genius into. We will be forever humbled and eternally grateful for this opportunity given to us by our friend and creative superhero Ibby, and the amazing Disney marketing team.