Sunday, November 25, 2018

Black Panther Costumes on Display at Heinz History Center

Ruth E. Carter is the Academy Award-nominated costume designer behind critically acclaimed films including Malcolm X, Selma, Do the Right Thing, and Serenity. Most recently, her work was featured in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Black Panther. I had the opportunity to see these costumes up close at the Heinz History Center.

I was provided complimentary admission to “Heroes & Sheroes: The Art and Influence of Ruth E. Carter in Black Cinema” courtesy of the Heinz History Center. Opinions are my own.

The earlier MCU films were the usual sort of superhero movie, which featured science-based heroes and villains in a mostly urban setting. This is why I was so excited for Doctor Strange and Black Panther - two of the biggest superheroes not typically explored outside of comics. An entire futuristic African country with a story about their royal family and military operations was ripe for amazing production design.

Carter clearly showed a level of dedication and passion in her work on Black Panther - which also premiered in Captain America: Civil War and got more spotlight in Avengers: Infinity War. Superhero movie costumes have gotten a bad rap since superhero movies became a thing. Sometimes they’re too realistic, sometimes they’re too different, but it’s hard to deny that Black Panther isn’t one of the best translations of a superhero character from comics to film.

Presented in partnership with FashionAFRICANA, the Heroes & Sheroes explores Carter’s African-influenced costumes, showcasing her master-level design skills.

The costumes from Black Panther are displayed in a single display case at the heart of the Heroes & Sheroes exhibit. While you won’t see the iconic superhero battle suits worn by T’Challa and Killmonger, you will see many of the tribal outfits worn by the Wakandan royal family and elders, as well as battle outfits worn by the Dora Milaje and other combatants seen in the film's climactic moments.

The suits aren’t the only Black Panther feature in the exhibit. Off to the side is a small viewing area where a short film presented by Vanity Fair features Carter herself going through the creative design process of many of the Wakandan costumes. She seems like such a fun person and she really did put her heart and soul into every single detail - even background characters who are only in one scene. You can watch this film here.

Whether you’re interested in fashion, filmmaking, art, or just a fan of superhero comics and movies, seeing these costumes up close and personal is guaranteed to put a smile on your face while also giving you a new appreciation for the level of detail that goes in every single costume in a film with the magnitude of Black Panther.

Click here for more information on the exhibit. Hurry - it closes on December 2nd.