Black Panther film inspires celebration of all things Africa

Black Panther highlights African culture with its Afrofuturistic vision and avant-garde costumes inspired by real-life tribes

As Marvel's latest film Black Panther continues to blow box-office predictions out of the water, the film has also been instrumental in bringing African culture to the fore.

Starring Chadwick Boseman and a stellar cast that includes Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o and Angela Bassett, the superhero film is an Afrofuturistic vision - where science fiction and fantasy are infused with cultures of the African diaspora.

While the setting of Wakanda is a fictional country, it draws on plenty of real-life influences from African cultures around the continent, from the ritual scarring on Erik Killmonger's ripped body, which originates from tribes in Ethiopia; to the Zulu headdresses predominantly worn in South Africa, seen on Queen Mother Ramonda.

The attention to detail in creating the costumes was spearheaded by designer Ruth Carter, who has also outfitted prominent African-American figures on-screen, such as Malcolm X (1992) and Martin Luther King Jr in Selma (2014).

This time, she suits up heroes of a different sort, meshing traditional and hi-tech Afropunk influences, resulting in eye-catching and avantgarde costumes.

The film has won critical praise for depicting a side of African culture that is rarely seen in Western media - one that is empowered, culturally rich and at the forefront of technology. In Singapore, the film has already earned $3.57 million in its opening week.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 25, 2018, with the headline 'Celebrating all things Africa'. Print Edition | Subscribe