Viola Davis is ready for battle (and another Oscar) in the gripping first trailer for “The Woman King.”
Inspired by true events, the historical epic tells the story of General Nansica (Davis), the leader of an all-female militia who defended the West African kingdom Dahomey in present-day Benin up until the 20th century. The elite group of warriors known as the Agojie famously served as the inspiration for the Dora Milaje in Marvel’s “Black Panther.”
Lashana Lynch, Thuso Mbedu and John Boyega also star in the film directed and co-written by Gina Prince-Bythewood, who previously helmed Netflix’s “The Old Guard” and the 2000s classic “Love & Basketball.”
“They will not stop until the whole of Africa is theirs,” Davis tells King Ghezo (Boyega) in the clip, as European ships prepare to invade the continent. “We must fight back, for our people.”
And fight they do, as Davis and her fellow warriors strike back against the colonizers in a brutal fashion to the sounds of Beyoncé’s “My Power” from the singer’s “Black Is King” album.
Together, Nanisca and new recruit Nawi (Mbedu) defeat enemies who “violated their honor, enslaved their people, and threatened to destroy everything they’ve lived for” with “skills and a fierceness unlike anything the world has ever seen,” according to the official synopsis.
“I’ve never had a role like this before. It’s transformative,” Davis, who is also a producer on the film, recently told Vanity Fair. “There’s always a vision you have for your career, but there are very few roles as an actress of color. Dark skin with a wide nose and big lips. I’m just going to continue to say it. Those stories are extraordinarily limited.”
“I knew what it would mean to us as Black people. Something that has never been done before. And what it would mean for Black women sitting in that movie theater. The responsibility is really high,” she added.
To transform into the fearsome general, the “How To Get Away with Murder” alum underwent months of preparation, including weight lifting, sprinting and training in martial arts and weaponry, “four hours a day, five days a week.”
The role arrives after Davis’ tepidly received performance as Michelle Obama in Showtime’s anthology series “The First Lady,” which drew some of the worst reviews of her career.
“How do you move on from the hurt, from failure?” said Davis of the reception to the role. “You have to. Not everything is going to be an awards-worthy performance.”
But with “The Woman King,” which hits theaters on September 16, she just might have another.