The second trailer for Marvel's Black Panther was a beautiful, psychedelic spectacle that left fans delighted. It introduced us to a movie rich in beauty and wonder, and promised an all-action political thriller like nothing we've ever seen in Marvel before. Intriguingly though, it also confirmed a supernatural side of the movie that hadn't been teased previously...
The Cult Of The Panther God
The trailer rightly reveals that the Black Panther is more than just a hero or a king — he's also a living legend. The Black Panther stands at the center of the Cult of Bast, the Panther God. A spiritual being known as an Ennead, Bast was worshipped in Ancient Egypt, granting power to her worshipers.
The Black Panther traditionally consumes a Heart-Shaped Herb, one that has been irradiated with vibranium. He's granted tremendous physical power (we saw in Captain America: Civil War that the Panther is able to take on Steve Rogers himself). Importantly, he also undertakes a mystical vision quest in which he meets with the Panther God.
Fans have long hoped that Black Panther would embrace the mystical side of the character as well as the scientific one. Excitingly, this trailer proves that will indeed be the case. We see what's clearly part of a mystical vision quest, in which T'Challa stands on a beautiful African plain and stares into the eyes of the Panther.
The comics have consistently portrayed Bast as a powerful being who cares passionately about the welfare of the Wakandan people. There have been occasions when Bast has chided T'Challa for not doing enough for his people, at one point even robbing him of his powers and forcing the King to prove himself worthy to be the Black Panther once again.
Other Mystical Possibilities In The MCU
This raises other intriguing possibilities though. The Panther God isn't the only spiritual being to show an interest in Wakanda. M'Baku, for example, is tied to the White Gorilla Cult. In the comics, he gained his own tremendous physical powers by consuming the flesh of one of Wakanda's rare White Gorillas. With Winston Duke playing M'Baku in the comics, is it possible we'll see evidence of other mystical beings in the film?
Until Doctor Strange, the MCU avoided mysticism. Thor, for example, hinted that the sorcery of Asgard was actually impossibly advanced science.
"Your ancestors called it magic, but you call it science. I come from a land where they are one and the same."
Building on this concept, Marvel consulted with quantum physicists to create a pseudo-scientific basis for magic that embraced everything from string theory to multiverse theory. In this context, spiritual beings like Bast are extradimensional entities like Dormammu, albeit with far healthier motivations.
It's great to see that the mystical side of the Black Panther mythology hasn't been forgotten. Black Panther will be a unique film, blending science and sorcery in a way we've never seen before. What's more, Wakanda promises to play a major role in Avengers: Infinity War, so these subtle themes look set to continue!