How Marvel made 'Black Panther' look so amazingMarvel's Head of Visual Development Ryan Meinerding, sits down with Brian Tong to talk about how they brought the world of Wakanda and the characters of "Black Panther" to life in the movie.
It is hard for a good man to be a king. [SOUND] [MUSIC] All right we are here to talk Black Panther, and sitting next to me Ryan Meinerding head of visual development for Marvel Studios. Ryan thank you so much for joining us and spending time here. Of course. Thanks for having me. So we are here to talk about Black Panther and not that I am kissing your **** but I am. But thank you for this amazing world building and character building that you and your team have done. How was just that experience for you guys? You know, working at Marvel Studios is great because every film is a little bit different and this one was really an interesting experience because creating the whole world of Wakanda felt like a new and interesting challenge. We had previously worked on Asgard but this one Because it's on Earth. Because it's sort of a sophisticated Earth culture, and because it's inspired by African tribal design motifs, it really created a lot of opportunities for cool design. There's kind of been a term that's been used, Afrofuturims. And Black Panther almost kind of really speaks to that, and makes it a real thing, consistently throughout the movie that People havent seen. When you guys heard that you were doing Black Panther the movie, were there kind of maybe some specific themes, or tend poles that you said, these are the things that we wanna make sure this world feels like? Black Panther's core is really. It's meant to be tribal, but it's meant to be SCI FI. So the combining of those two things are really the two things we were trying to go for. And then trying to look within the tribal African cultures and try to find something that spoke to feeling African, but can also could translate into a science fiction world. There's a lot of really amazing visuals from African cultures that haven't been explored too much in film specifically. And I think using that pallet to like just happen to is really amazing. I think, one of the things you touched on was making the world feel real. I think that's one of the first things we're trying to do, just because there's a lot of sci-fi notions in this movie that, if they're not grounded enough, it's not gonna feel real enough for people to take it seriously. Another thing that was really exciting for us, I think, is, Try to make the culture of that world feel as real as possible through the regalness of T'Challa and sort of the Black Panther throne. I think all those things mixed together makes a really interesting design starting point. And hopefully, we fulfilled what people were looking for. Now, you talked about T'Challa, the main character. We saw him in Civil War. And we've seen this new kinda streamlined costume for Black Panther with new abilities. What is that process like, just designing Black Panther? What did you wanna bring new to the table for this movie? One of the cool things about characters, once they've already appeared in a MCU movie we have places to move from, right? So I did the design work for Black Panther, and Civil War. I was really trying to bring in a lot of woven African design themes to make it feel like not only are there African tribal markings and sort of inscriptions and [UNKNOWN] language worked into the costume, but the whole suit was meant to feel like it was woven together. It created a sort of layered silhouette, and a little bit sort of bulkier. When [UNKNOWN] was started on the phone he really wanted to streamline that. That was the one of the things he was really interested in his making it sort of this unified singular scheme. They almost felt like a second scheme from free to tower and part of that was because it was gonna be Be nanotech, it was going to be so high tech that if it felt layered and you could see a construction method it wouldn't really makes sense. So in essence what Ryan really brought to it was the idea of upping the technology of the suit so it was a higher tech sort of suit than we really had seen on screen in the MCU so far. As well as he had some very specific ideas about the helmet, and the mask. The first was to make it not a helmet, to actually integrate the mask with the suit so it felt like one unified thing and he also liked the idea and the more recent run of the comics, the design by Brian Stelfreeze. There were a few themes from that mask that he really wanted to bring to it. He wanted the ears sort of swept back so it felt more like an aggressive stance, like a growling panther. He wanted to expose T'Challa's eyes At certain points in the movie so the nano tech could retract and then you could see the actual expression on Chadwick's face, and in the Brian Stillfree's design of the face there's this interesting mix of a panther and a man's face.Where it sometimes, depending on how the light catches it, it can either look more like a panther or look more like a man. And I think exposing the eyes, and then also bringing more of an actual panther's face to the mask Creates a more African inspired tribal look to the mask. It feels more like it's meaning to represent a panther where as i think the civil war design was really trying to lean into the Jack Kirby sort of comic look, it's more saying let's reference the comic character and the new design feels like it's creating more of a panther idol in some way. What were some of the big inspirations? I know you talked about Kirby and Stelfreeze. Were there any other kind of runs in the comics that you kinda looked at for whether it was Wakanda or Black Panther, the character, or even other characters in the movie? For Panther, the summer I was really Stelfreeze art, specifically with the kinetic technology of Absorbing energy to be able to deliver a blow with it and that purple glow really added a cool design theme to him that works so well in the film. [NOISE] [MUSIC] I think those are sort of the two touchstones was Kirby and Stelfreeze when we got into doing Killmonger we were looking at a lot of the comic references Just touchstones, and then trying to find ways of doing the same sorts of things. But bringing them into more of a, in his first appearances in the movie, to more of a tactical world. Where he feels like his sort of special forces background is evident. And then he picks up that tribal mask, which feels a lot like the mast that's in the comics. Ryan was really interested in pushing ideas that would look back at those cool comic book roots and try and find ways of Of transitioning them into more real things even like the dreadlocks that Komanga has in the comics. I think they got turned into like a really cool interesting hairstyle for Michael B Jordan which is really fun to see. Ryan Kugler obviously he's a comic book reader. He's a comic book geek and clearly he collaborated a lot with you. Was there a lot of kind of, back and forth between you guys. I know this is really a collaborative effort. And you guys create these key frames, and these great superhero designs, and whatnot. How was it working with him, overall? Ryan's amazing. He's a really generous great film maker to work for. Brings a lot of fantastic ideas. But he's really willing listen, and if you have a pitch, he'll wanna hear it, and he'll consider it. And he'll either go with it, or he won't, but Just having somebody that's there that listens to what you're saying is awesome and so many of the really great ideas, at least for our part of the process and the visuals came straight from him. Is there any character that you personally enjoyed working on the most design wise that maybe people might not expect? Cuz I You're the head of Marvel visual development, here, what about for you? One of the things I'm happy that I got in ther was this idea of having scarification on his body. And we found a way to sort of integrate that into the [UNKNOWN] panther suit so it has these bundles of fabric that are meant to represent the sacrification on him. And of the characters are so amazing to see. In terms of my favorites that how they transitioned, I love the look for Panther. I love the look for Killmonger but Okoye is probably my favorite character in the movie. She's amazing. [NOISE] [NOISE] Anthony Francisco actually did design work on Aquoa and Ackia and Aquoa is just so great. I mean she's kind of a bad ****. [LAUGH] Like yep pretty much. Were there any other just stand out parts of this whole process that you enjoyed doing the most? The production design on the movie is so amazing. There's so many cool and interesting takes on stuff. The waterfall scene, the [UNKNOWN] tribe sort of thrown. There's so many cool things to bounce off of and to see all the great ideas they were coming up with. That's probably one of my favorite parts of this was Seeing Hannah working with Ryan to come up with this sorta look book of different African-inspired reference, and seeing how that was sort of playing out in the production design and the sets. And then us trying to keep up with it in terms of doing the hero costumes. And how Ruth was able to create an entire culture out of thin air really. She was finding different looks for the different tribes that feel really interesting and different. So that Reconda maybe more than any culture within the MCU feels so real and feels very multifaceted and interesting Right Ryan. Thanks so much. we just want to high light tis because of all of the great work you guys are doing. People that are watching can check out the art of Black Panther. I know I honestly pre-ordered this for Amazon right now. So I don't have it. But I am holding it in my hand here. But there is just a lot of Great stuff in here, showing the concept design that you guys have worked on and just how you evolved this to what we got to see. So thanks so much Ryan. This was great. Appreciate it. Awesome. Cool. Thanks. [MUSIC]