Wakanda Forever! Marvel Studios’ Black Panther is now available to stream on Disney+, and last week in celebration of Black History Month, its Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter appeared alongside her collaborator Julia Koerner to discuss their work in creating the jaw-dropping outfits for the smash hit 2018 superhero action spectacular.
Arriving at the “The Art of Costume Design: Black Panther” event, which was held by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Hollywood’s Linwood Dunn Theater on Sunday, February 23, I found an eye-catching display of costumes from Black Panther, specifically those worn by Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, and Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa.
Also on display in the theater’s lobby was a series of behind-the-scenes photographs and concept art depicting the costume design for the movie and their finished products from the film itself.
Hanging around the lobby prior to the beginning of the presentation, guests could catch a glimpse of the processes used to create some of the many gorgeous Black Panther costumes and their accessories. You could even invent your own Wakanda-themed superhero with materials provided in a costuming workshop across the hall.
Finally, Ruth Carter and Julia Koerner took the stage to talk about the “long, arduous process” of bringing Black Panther to life on screen. As Carter said, she had never worked on a superhero movie before, but she sought to borrow from ancient African customs and techniques to begin her approach. She collaborated with Marvel Studios to come up with a unique style for each Wakandan tribe, and told us about how she modified the “too bulky” version of T’Challa’s suit that was used in Captain America: Civil War. She also elevated the status of Queen Ramonda by formalizing her look, which she stated was “too casual” in the comic books.
Koerner is a professor of architecture and urban design at UCLA, and was instrumental in helping to craft the 3D-fabricated costuming elements for Black Panther that cannot be produced in any other way. The costumes for the Dora Milaje were intended to convey women who are taken seriously, and thus their provocative nature was dialed back somewhat from the group’s appearances in the comics. Carter and Koerner recalled how they attempted to retrain the eye to appreciate beauty in other ways, and how the science-oriented character of Shuri was given “urban fashion” in lieu of a lab coat. But mostly Ruth Carter wanted to convey how she led a talented creative team in cooperation with Marvel Studios, with the outcome of an extremely memorable, Academy Award-winning array of costumes.
Marvel Studios’ Black Panther is now available to stream on Disney+.
Mike serves as Laughing Place’s lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly “Who’s the Bossk?” Star Wars podcast. He’s been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general since a very young age and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.