Black Panther is poised to take over the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Hollywood when it hits cinemas worldwide, and the excitement amongst comic book fans is palpable to say the very least. The titular character’s standalone instalment has been a long time coming after all, what with Marvel first introducing him in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War (Spider-Man’s movie came out last year, just 15 months after the webslinger made his own MCU debut).
The film — which stars acting talents such as Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Lupita Nyong’o, Chadwick Boseman and Michael B Jordan — might not reach US big screens until the 15th of February but at least the wait will be worth it, if the recent reviews are anything to go by. Those who have already seen it have called the film ‘terrific,’ ‘extraordinary’ and a ‘comic masterpiece’. Elsewhere, Kristy Puchko described it as a ‘majestic’ outing, ‘packed with action, emotion and spectacle’. Not only is it going to be celebrated as an historical milestone for film, it also looks to be one of the most visually impressive superhero movies yet. So, to satisfy our T’Challa needs in the meantime, CBR have decided to look back on all of the film’s stunning concept art…
15. MAN IN THE MANY MASKS
These epic paintings by Bosnian-American comic book artist Adi Granov offer a close-up look at T’Challa’s iconic mask. We love that the showcase how streamline Black Panther’s whole costume is, particularly the mask’s ears (which of course, help give him his feline-like look). In these pictures, you can really pick up on the different parts of his protective give too, from the hardened black material around his nose and eyes as well as its silver accents.
In the past, Granov has helped inspire visuals for several Marvel movies having conjured up artwork for the source material too. He created a lot of concept art for the Iron Man movies, including the look of the armor that Tony Stark first forges, but is perhaps best known for defining stories such as Iron Man’s “Extremis” arc.
Many of the critics who have seen Black Panther already have highlighted how strong the film’s ensemble cast is. Several writers have confidently stated that there is not one weak link among them and that they all command the screen whenever their character is given time to shine.
In this image by Los Angeles-based artist Ryan Meinerding, we can see three of the good guys stood together, looking like they’re ready for battle, and it’s pretty beautiful. The bold colors used are sensational; depicting a setting sun as it lights Okoye (Danai Gurira), T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) dramatically. It’s clear that Meinerding put as much care into the backdrop as he did the character’s costumes too, sketching birds in the sky and intricate silhouettes of trees.
13. T’CHALLA IN PALACE ROBES
Black Panther takes place in its own fictional world, much like how the first Thor was partly set on Asgard. The fictional world in Black Panther is called Wakanda and all corners of the real-life continent of Africa hugely influence its landscapes and culture. Of both her designs and the setting, costume designer Ruth Carter said in an interview: ‘[It’s] futuristic in some ways, but not futuristic. A place in Africa that’s African. But also has a wide stretch of cultural awareness that reaches to the depths of many cultures’.
In this piece by Keith Christensen, you can clearly see the detail of T’Challa’s palace robes. We love the regal quality they have to them, with their gold embroidery and tailored edges. An outfit fit for Chadwick Boseman’s king!
Played by Lupita Nyong’o, Nakia is a Wakandan spy and a former lover of Black Panther, aka T’Challa. In this artwork, Keith Christensen depicts the female character in a fancy gown as opposed to her battle gear. We love that she still looks strong in her pose though!
In some African cultures, green clothing can mean new life, healing and prosperity. In other areas of the continent, it can symbolize growth, spirituality and renewal. Either way, it seems fair to assume that costume designer Ruth Carter was influenced by these concepts. What we really love about this painting is Christensen’s attention to detail. The pattern on the dress looks great and he even made sure to accessorize Nakia’s look. He added bangles, hair jewellery, decorative sandals and a dainty, gold headpiece.
11. SILVER SHURI
In Black Panther, Black Mirror actor Letitia Wright brings T’Challa’s half-sister Shuri to life. She’s already going down as one of the standout characters of the film and we’re excited to see how her story plays out on-screen. For now though, we’ll have to just stare at this gorgeous painting by Adi Granov.
We think it’s so great because it looks a lot more futuristic than a lot of the costume designs we saw while compiling this list. Perhaps it’s because she’s the youngest character in the film and is therefore forging her own path rather than so closely following tradition but then again, it doesn’t really matter what the reason for her personal style it. She still looks like a warrior, combining combat boots and a high collar with a sparkly dress and we’re into it.
10. THE DORA MILAJE
One aspect of Black Panther that some fans are looking forward to seeing is the Dora Milaje, King T’Challa’s personal bodyguards. The trained professionals — who hail from any and every tribe of Wakanda — are canonically women. Understandably, comic book movie lovers are fond of the idea that a male superhero would look to females as backup. It’s not something that happens all too often.
Two significant members of the group include Okoye, who is played in the film by The Walking Dead‘s Danai Gurira and Nakia, portrayed by Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, and artist Anthony Francisco depicts them both in the above image. It’s truly stunning, especially the way he’s brought the costumes to life. Francisco has also previously created concept art for Marvel movies such as Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok. He currently works as the studios’ official Visual Development Concept Artist.
9. SLEEK SUIT
Black Panther’s suit is one of the most elegant of superhero suits across the entire MCU and artist Adi Granov shows it off in all its glory here. It resembles the more streamline-looking T’Challa that we were introduced to in Captain America: Civil War. The suit seen in the Black Panther trailer looks a lot like one too, so it seems like Granov’s vision was favored by those big bosses in charge at Marvel Studios.
As well as Black Panther’s look, we also love the pose Gravnov has chosen for him in this image. Like the animal he’s named, T’Challa is very elegant in his fighting styles and never really puts a foot in the wrong place. This pose highlights that his movements are always calculated and precise.
8. WAKANDA CITY
While we’ve talked a lot about the costumes of Black Panther, fans are also excited to see the world in which it’s set. Wakanda is the fictional home of titular hero T’Challa and has been described by the creators and actors involved in the film as a futuristic yet jungle-style paradise.
Here, German digital artist Till Nowak brings Wakanda’s more built up areas to life (aka its cityscapes). We love the muted tones he uses, each cream, green and blue complimenting the other colors perfectly. It makes the setting look very natural yet impressive at the same time. The middle image also allows fans a glimpse at the Wakanda Palace’s throne room, where the likes of T’Challa, Shuri and their mother Ramonda disguise how to continually better their nation.
7. CATS AND CLAWS
There’s only one way to describe this entry by Andy Park and that’s ‘fierce’. We know that Black Panther is a man, obviously — after all, he is standing upright in this very image — but we love it when this particular superhero embraces his more animalistic qualities. We really enjoy the way he’s flexing his clawed hands here; it makes him look powerful and ferocious and Park captures that tone really well.
It’s an atmospheric picture too, with its shadowy corridor and a stone, big cat statue behind him. You could almost see it as an image that is symbolic of whom Black Panther really is; a man coming to terms with his newfound responsibilities following his father’s death.
6. ALTERNATIVE SUIT DESIGNS
Here, J.S. Marantz reveals two sneak peeks at an alternative suit design he created for Black Panther ahead of his debut in Captain America: Civil War. For those who are familiar with T’Challa’s look from the aforementioned Marvel film, his suit was very smooth looking, and colored almost predominantly black, with just a few metallic accents.
This costume looks more armor-like with its gray, tight-fit base and black protective pads. Check out those pointy ears too. They are a little on the Batman side but we’re not totally opposed to it! It is evident how powerful T’Challa’s body is in this suit, which is definitely a positive. In Civil War, he proved a worthy opponent of both Captain America and the Winter Soldier. It’s only fair his muscles get showcased too!
Zuri, played in the film by Forest Whitaker, is a Wakandan shaman and an adviser to King T’Challa. Before the former monarch’s death — which was depicted in the film Captain America: Civil War — Zuri was a loyal friend to T’Challa’s father T’Chaka. Here, Chicago-born artist Keith Christensen showcases Zuri’s clothing.
As you can see, he’s wearing purple fabrics which, in different African cultures, can be a symbol of healing, royalty and prosperity. As he’s a shaman, Carter could have been inspired by the Ashanti meaning of purple, which sees it stand for virtue and faith instead. We love his decorated face and the embellishments on his garments; all of these aspects just add to the richness of his costume. Note his neck collar too!
In Black Panther, American Horror Story star Angela Bassett brings Ramonda to life. The character is known as the Queen Mother of Wakanda; she’s the wife of T’Chaka and the mother to T’Challa and Shuri. In this image, artist Keith Christensen illustrates one of her grander costumes, and we absolutely love the look too.
It’s so majestic. The floor-length gown frames her waist perfectly but fans out to make her silhouette very attention-grabbing. The silver neck rings and wide collar add to her commanding presence even further. The headdress is particularly beautiful too; the fairly understated print on the fabric looks very sophisticated. Interestingly, the figure that is wearing the garments doesn’t actually look like Bassett. Christensen must have created this piece before she was cast.
Seeing as the titular superhero is the King of Wakanda, it stands to reason that some of the events in his movie will take place in fancy-looking places. Well, Till Nowak‘s artwork happens to depict such places.
This is the Wakandan Palace throne room and boy, does it look regal! While the image is slightly obscured due to its abstract style, the figures sitting in the middle of the room are likely to be T’Challa, Shuri, Ramonda and the rest of their family or advisers. We love Nowak’s use of gold here; it radiates wealth, power and elegance. We also like that the sun is streaming through the huge window panes on the far side of the room; it could hint at Wakandan’s warmth as well as wealth.
2. JUNGLE LANDSCAPES
Wakanda is set to be a mixture of futuristic cityscapes and lush, green jungle and these images showcase the latter. Unveiled alongside Doctor Strange‘s home entertainment release, these two stunning pieces of art see Black Panther navigating his nation’s more tropical landscapes.
In one image, T’Challa is clearly standing with another character — could it potentially be Forest Whitaker’s Zuri? The locations look almost mystical too which, not only has us intrigued to see what the movie might explore but also supports our idea that the other figure is shaman Zuri. Doctor Strange marked a turning point in the MCU…could Black Panther be following suit? While it’s uncertain who the second man in the picture is, one is for certain: Black Panther is going to look amazing on the big screen.
1. PANTHER IN ACTION
It’s great to get a look at all of the wonderful costume designs for Black Panther, particularly those that might not have made the final cut. But those of us who have seen Captain America: Civil War know that T’Challa looks his best when he’s in action. Fortunately, when Doctor Strange was released on DVD and Blu-ray, it included concept art that depicted him doing what he does best: saving the day.
We particularly love the image of him crouched on top of a speeding car; his arm outstretched for balance and his bright eyes laser-focused on the target in front of him. The hazy brushstrokes and techniques used by the artist really highlight how fast the vehicle is going. It makes it quite an exciting piece of artwork.
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