Black Panther, Captain America, Black Widow, and their allies prepare for a battle in Wakanda in the latest official image released from Marvel Studios' Avengers: Infinity War. The massive brawl between the forces of good and Thanos' army in the film continues to be a massive point of speculation, ahead of the movie's release in theaters next month. The Infinity War teaser trailer offers a sneak peek of the grand showdown, but provides little to no additional context that would explain why the Mad Titan is attacking T'Challa's homeland.
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo's Infinity War - their third Marvel Cinematic Universe film after the Captain America sequels - is the culmination of 10 years' worth of story development in the MCU, as well as the immediate followup to the zeitgeist-capturing Black Panther. Black Panther sets up Infinity War in ways that are mostly subtle and organic to its own standalone narrative, but also makes room for connective tissue to the larger MCU. The most obvious example of the latter would be the film's post-credits scene, which sees Bucky Barnes revitalized, recharged, and free from Hydra's brainwashing at last thanks to T'Challa's brainy sister Shuri.
Bucky, now equipped with a new and improved bionic arm, can be seen standing alongside Cap and the others in said new Infinity War photo. The image also features Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the rest of the Dora Milaje, lined up and prepared to bring the fight to Thanos' army. Infinity War's teaser trailer further confirms that the Hulk, Falcon, and War Machine are somewhere offscreen in this photo, as they are shown joining the others during their slow-motion charge in the trailer footage. You can check out the photo (courtesy of Total Film) below:
One popular theory is that the Soul Stone lies at the heart of Wakanda and fuels its technology; hence Thanos' interest in the country and its resources. That's far from the only fan theory concerning the final Infinity Stone and where it's been hiding for the past decade in the MCU, but it's certainly one of the most logical ones. At the same time, given the incredible technology and massive amount of Vibranium at Wakanda's disposal, there are other reasons for Thanos to take an interest in T'Challa's home, Soul Stone or not.
From a marketing perspective, the decision to keep focusing on Infinity War's big Wakanda battle (and the mystery surrounding it) is a smart move for Disney and Marvel Studios. Black Panther is currently sitting comfortably atop the box office around the world and may well continue to do so after this weekend. That means the film is also dominating cultural conversations at the moment, even amongst those moviegoers who aren't necessarily so deeply invested in the Thanos storyline that the MCU has been building up since Phase 1.
Rather than trying to change the Black Panther conversation to focus on Infinity War instead, Disney and Marvel are tapping into it and using it to promote their next film, via images like this one. With Infinity War now projected for the MCU's best opening weekend ever, that strategy is clearly working too. At the same time, this approach will help to keep the spotlight fixed on Black Panther for months to come, even once the buzz around the movie has died down. That certainly won't hurt the Black Panther Oscar campaign that Disney is already planning to kickoff sometime later this year.
Source: Total Film