Ryan Coogler’s latest project is a look at another kind of Black Panther: the controversial death of influential activist Fred Hampton. Thursday brought the trailer for Judas And The Black Messiah, a Coogler-produced drama about the assasination of Black Panther organizer Fred Hampton in the late 60s that remains a point of anger in the Black community in the present day.
The trailer showed us a first look at Get Out‘s Daniel Kaluuya as Hampton as well as Lakeith Stanfield of Sorry To Bother You fame, who will serve as the movie’s main characters. The film is directed by Shaka King, who wrote it with Will Berson. According to the trailer’s YouTube page, the duo pitched Coogler, of Marvel’s Black Panther fame, who will produce the film.
The trailer shows the heightened tensions of the Black Panther movement in Chicago, where Hampton rose in leadership ranks with his energetic speeches and enigmatic organizational skills to make the party a force in the community. The refrain of “I am a revolutionary” punctuates the trailer, which sets the scene: an agent played by Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad) puts pressure on Stanfield’s character, who will ultimately betray Hampton and lead to his death.
Historical spoilers here, perhaps, but Hampton was later killed at age 21 in a predawn raid of his Chicago apartment by Chicago police and the FBI. That incident is largely considered to be an assassination, and a lawsuit later awarded his family and others millions due to the nature of the deaths. The subject matter is compelling and tragic, but the cast assembled is perhaps the most exciting thing revealed. Kaluuya is firey and charismatic, while Stanfield visibly struggles with his predicament while Plemons’ presence at the rally looms heavy on screen.
The trailer hints at something the movie is sure to explore: while the FBI considered the Black Panthers a paramilitary threat to safety, Hampton’s work in the community was viewed very differently by those living and working in it. That nuance and the tragedy that resulted from it won’t be in theaters until 2021, but it will certainly be just as relevant when it debuts as it did when the story played out in 1969.