Behind the Scenes, Women Empowerment: Marvel’s Black Panther’s Afrofuturism


The Chadwick Boseman-led Marvel movie Black Panther is going to be shown on theaters soon! You will see that the future is going to be all about girl power.

Although the titular hero is T’Challa, a man-king, his advisers as well as bodyguards and chief technologist are all—guess what?—women! The same goes behind the scenes. Hannah Beachler from Moonlight and Lemonade did the production design. On the other hand, Ruth Carter from Amistad and Selma did the costume design.

Beachler reveals that, “The challenge was imagining how something futuristic looks in Africa. What would Africans have done given reign over their own culture, without having been colonized? How would their cultures have mixed together?” The answer to this is something that no one could ever dream of – even the billionaire and Iron Man Tony Stark himself.

Super Suit

The movie’s fictional country is called Wakanda. Its wealth is the fictional rare metal called vibranium. It is said to power everything from fashions to weapons. You can witness the telltale silver sheen in T’Challa’s bodysuit. Nonetheless, you might miss indistinct details in Black Panther‘s costume’s design. Carter discloses, “There’s a little pyramid pattern from Mali. In close-up, you can see the suit’s connection to Africa.”

Language

Although English is used by the people of Wakanda, there is also a native language. It is developed by Beachler based on Nigerian pictographs from the 4th and 5th centuries. The characters appear on street signs and battle gear, as well as the walls of T’Challa’s court.

Transportation

The heart of Wakanda, Golden City, has two main forms of public transit: a hyperloop and the Steptown streetcar. According to Beachler, both were intended to realize people’s dreams of trains of the future. Since Director Ryan Coogler grew up in Oakland, Calif., the BART system gave an impact. Thus, with the aid of vibranium, the transportation is considerably more efficient.

Architecture

Golden City’s gleaming glass skyscrapers have the origin in African architecture—like the rondavel tops of traditional thatched huts. As stated by Beachler, “We started digging deeper and grabbing textures from Timbuktu scaffolding and Mali pyramids.” The city also has a district called Steptown. It is where the hipsters wear clothes with “an Afro-Punk feel.”

Air Power

There are three chief aircraft in Wakanda are as follows: Dragon Flyers (biomimetically designed helicopters that look like dragonflies), Talon Fighters (like fighter jets) and the Royal Talon Fighter (T’Challa’s version of Air Force One). Beachler divulges, “The top view of the Royal Talon is inspired by an African mask, and the inside is luxurious. It’s techy, but it’s not your usual aircraft.”

Wearables

One of the director’s main goals with Black Panther was to ensure all of the technology had a lot of functions. To cite an example, kimoyo beads are used as jewelry. However, they are also as communication and medical devices. “A big question I was interested in exploring was, what makes something African?” Director Ryan Coogler reveals. “For us, we said, ‘Let’s make it human, let’s make it tactile.’ ”

Warriors

Since T’Challa’s personal guards, the Dora ­Milaje, are part Secret Service and part Navy SEALs, their gear has to be regal and combat-friendly. Neck rings protect the warriors and signify their rank. Meanwhile, beaded body armor doubles as family talismans that Dora soldiers can pass down to their daughters. The costume designer based the designs on the East African Maasai tribe’ beadwork.

Weapons

All the best technology in Wakanda is the work of one woman. That is, T’Challa’s younger sister Shuri (Letitia Wright). She is the head of the Wakandan Design Group. The director shares, “She’s like Tony Stark or Elon Musk.” Her gauntlets use vibranium power to activate concussive sound waves. Nonetheless, her coolest masterpiece is the ring blades, which are expertly wielded by Nakia (played by Lupita Nyong’o).

Marvel’s Black Panther is rated PG-13. It is going to be released Feb. 16.

Photo source: Facebook/Black Panther

Amber McLean

Amber McLean

I love to watch K-dramas and write articles and novels.
Amber McLean

Amber McLean

I love to watch K-dramas and write articles and novels.

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