Starring Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong'o, Black Panther centers on a black superhero T'Challa/The Black Panther (Boseman) the king and hero of the fictional African country of Wakanda. The comic that inspired the film was first created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966.
T'Challa's sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) is the Steve Jobs of Black Panther, a talented inventor in the tradition of the James Bond character Q. Here the tech genius is a teenage girl who creates rocket gloves and defensive body armor in a typical Afrofuturist brand of off-the-charts female empowerment and intelligence. In this scene Shuri battles T'Challa's nemesis Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) in an outfit that blends cutting-edge technology and the kind of face decoration and dress that evoke indigenous African design.
Costume designer Ruth Carter told Wired magazine that there is a subtle pyramid motif in T'Challa's bodysuit design that was inspired by a pyramid pattern from Mali. Boseman and Lupita Nyong'o as T'Challa's love interest Nakia star in the highly anticipated Marvel Studios action film Black Panther.
Black Panther's production designer Hannah Beachler also worked on Moonlight and Beyoncé’s Lemonade video. Some have also called Beachler's Lemonade video Afrofuturist for the way it incorporates references to African Yoruba goddesses into the action.
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T'Challa's personal army of brave warriors who defend him against all attacks are called the Dora Milaje and blend a futuristic vision of virtually unstoppable, powerful female warriors with costume elements inspired by African design. Costume designer Ruth Carter based the beadwork on their beaded body armor on designs from the East African Maasai tribe.
The long-awaited film directed by Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed) is also an entertaining and culturally powerful treatise on the design, artistic and philosophical movement of Afrofuturism, a term coined by academic Mark Dery in 1993. Afrofuturism is defined as a sci-fi vision of the world that places black achievement and power at the fore. It's aesthetic combines black history, sci fi and magical realism into one compelling blend.
There’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to the new Black Panther movie. Black super heroes! Gorgeous CGI scenery! A-list actors showing off their Yale-thespian chops and gym time. And of course, a powerful message about a black utopia as remedy to inner-city malaise. Read on to find out how the design and art movement of Afrofuturism informs the film.
Black Panther is set in the fictional African country of Wakanda. The country epitomizes the Afrofuturist vibe. It’s a utopia and African superpower, hidden below the radar of the rest of the world. The key to its wealth is the fact that the country was never colonized and its prized natural resource vibranium.
Black Panther costume designer Ruth E. Carter has admitted her costumes, which blend ancient, tribal and historical African elements with sci-fi flourishes, are decidedly Afrofuturist in intent. Actor Forest Whitaker (shown here) stars in Black Panther as the Wakanda elder statesman Zuri.