In just a handful of days, Marvel's Black Panther is going to take the world by storm. Whether it's the dazzling cast, amazing music, or perfect set design, there's one thing that's unequivocally clear: we still have no real idea what this movie is about.
No, really, think about that. All we really know is the basic outline of the film that's been around since the original trailer: it takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War, and Erik Killmonger wants to take over Wakanda. Things that would normally be seen as moments worth withholding --Killmonger becoming the Golden Jaguar, an uprising in Wakanda involving the Dora Milaje -- were just casually revealed in the opening salvo of marketing material. That's a weird thing to think about, especially when compared to recent films in this same genre.
For the past handful of years, hero flicks have suffered from their marketing giving enough away for fans to accurately draw accurate conclusions, if not outright spoil things completely. Case in point, once it was announced Kurt Russell would be in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, there was no way he would play anyone else but Peter Quill's father. More recently, both Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok had trailers that spoiled fairly big moments in those respective films, such as Peter wearing his pre-Stark costume and Thor having his hammer destroyed. Justice League irritatingly danced around the subject of Superman's revival, despite the fact that just featuring his logo in posters was as clear as day that he would return. And Logan made it clear with a simple shot of two bloody hands being held that Hugh Jackman's closure wasn't going to end well for him. Not all of these are intentional choices, but these are things that fans have begun to notice on social media.
Revealing too much of a film can give away the most thrilling moments and undermine any tension that you're hoping to build. It's hard to worry about whether or not Spidey will wind up in a jet turbine when you've seen ten ads and a trailer ending on that scene, after all. But with Black Panther, Marvel Studios is taking a more secretive approach to the marketing instead of overloading the brain with glamour shot after glamour shot. And it's a welcome change for both Marvel Studios and superhero films, period.