Why Black Panther's Costume Was Kind Of A Nightmare

Black Panther

Some of the most common complaints that actors and filmmakers always seem to have when adapting comic books relate to problems associated with the costumes. Sometimes they're too uncomfortable, other times they restrict what an actor can do, and then there are the times when they simply just don't look right on camera. As it turns out, this sort of problem reared its head again during the production of Captain America: Civil War with Chadwick Boseman's badass Black Panther costume. How did the Russo Brothers get around this problem? They simply used CGI for literally everything. Joe Russo explained:

[They] really did a ton of work on that outfit. I mean, we had an outfit that we used on set. It's impossible when you're talking about an otherworldly outfit like the one that the Panther wears, which has a certain luminescence to it because it's made of a woven metal. We could never afford to construct an outfit like that that an actor or a stunt player could move around in without sweating to death or that would capture the luminescence that we need. So what we ended up doing in post is ILM came in and painted over Chadwick and the stuntman. The outfit is completely CG.

In the commentary for Captain America: Civil War (via Screen Crush), The Russo Brothers spoke with the film's screenwriters, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and explained the process of creating Black Panther's vibranium suit in the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe adventure. During this conversation they revealed that every single shot of Black Panther in Civil War was completely CGI. Jumping from rooftops? CGI. Facing off against Chris Evans' Steve Rogers? CGI. Standing around, looking menacing? Completely CGI. They rationalized this decision by asserting that they would never be able to afford a good enough suit that a performer could move around in, so the CGI route represented a far more attractive option in terms of ease of use and affordability.

Of course, they did use a practical suit resembling the actual Black Panther costume while they shot the film, but that was only a placeholder so that they could insert the final version later on. You can catch a glimpse of the practical suit in the tweet below:

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As fans of the superhero genre, we have a tendency to rail against CGI and put practical effects up on a pedestal. However, that doesn't change the fact that the technical wizardry that went into the creation of the Black Panther outfit is nothing if not astounding. If this is the future of digital effects, then we are completely on board.

It remains unclear whether or not Ryan Coogler will use a similar technique when he takes the reigns on the Black Panther solo movie, but the Russo Brothers have clearly proven that the method works. We will just have to wait and see for ourselves when Black Panther hits theaters on February 16, 2018.

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.