When Marvel unveiled the first official teaser trailer of Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, fans were awestruck at how Wakanda was brought to life visually. Not only were the environments so creatively distinct from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the wardrobe that Wakandans wore was immediately striking.
It is impossible to bring these costumes to life without the connection to its roots to Africa. Even from only a glimpse at what Marvel, Coogler and company have created showcases how the film will be a rousing celebration of African culture.
In an interview with Elle, Black Panther costume designer Ruth E. Carter discussed the inspiration in designing the outfits of Wakanda. Carter, whose credits include much of Spike Lee’s filmography and Steven Spielberg’s Amistad had this to say:
I’m looking at the whole continent and a wide range of people, like the Masai and the Suri. It all becomes a part of the framework of Wakanda. Most people who read the comic books know Wakanda is a mountainous area; it’s a secret place that’s not necessarily trading and interacting with the rest of the world. They’re a little bit more advanced in technology than other civilizations. We are creating that world, and trying to create a culture and pride that feels authentic to the specific location.
Carter also expressed how she understands the responsibility of representing Africa through her designs – given that Africa is a large, diverse continent than what has been traditionally portrayed in Hollywood films:
Oh, yeah. I do. I felt it with Roots, and I feel it now with Black Panther. That authenticity is very important to me. With Wakanda, I’m sort of piecing together a puzzle. It’s the puzzle that is our history. Black history didn’t start with slavery or end with the civil-rights movement. I’m trying to put together that puzzle while considering everything that relates to us, including present stuff like the Black Lives Matter campaign.
We’re speaking to an international black culture that knows film, that’s smart, that travels, that knows what’s happening in the world. I want to respect that. I start designing by saying “Don’t make it up.” After the research, then I can make it up.
For the net worth of celebrities like Coogler, please check out the squander. Are you excited to see T’Challa, King of Wakanda shine in all of his glory? Sound off in the comments below about what your most anticipated element of Black Panther is.
Directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, with Angela Bassett, with Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis, Marvel’s Black Panther will be in theaters on February 16, 2018.