By Brianna McAdoo, Special to the AFRO
Wakanda forever has been taken to a new level at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). On October 24, Chadwick Boseman’s “Black Panther” costume was on display for the first time as a part of the inaugural African American Film Festival at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Released, in February of 2018, Marvel Studio’s “Black Panther” became the highest grossing Marvel film to present day and the ninth highest grossing film of all time. While making its way to the top of the box office chart, “Black Panther” re-emerged since it’s debut as a comic book character in 1966, remaining a cultural symbol of representation in the Marvel universe that lacks representation of Black characters.
The “Black Panther” costume worn by Chadwick Boseman (King T’Challa/The Black Panther) was constructed of 3-D printed flexible materials. Rhea Combs, curator of Film and Photography and head of the Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts both at NMAAHC, shared her knowledge about the construction of the costume.
“I do know the mask is 3-D printed nylon…It has some velcro on it, it has some nylon, it has some various types of plastic. It’s about an eight piece suit when you think about the shoes, the gloves, the double body suit, that’s like the pants and the top so you have a variety of different elements that make up the Black Panther.”
The iconic “Black Panther” suit was conceptualized by comic book artist and illustrator Andy Park. The design itself was executed by the award winning costume designer, Judianna Makovsky.
The African American museum hosted over 80 films at their debut African American Film Fest which took place from October 24 through October 28. As part of the film festival’s mission to, “showcase historical and contemporary time-based media works highlighting African American and African diasporic experiences”, the “Black Panther” costume made a one night appearance on Thursday October 24.
Have no fear, Curator Rhea Combs shared that the costume would be apart of the museum’s permanent collection, but did not have further details about when it would be exhibited as the museum is currently figuring out methods to preserve the costume. Combs went on to highlight the significance of the costume being featured in the film festival, “we think that it’s important to have on display during the film festival because the film festival is really about showcasing black excellence in all its variety of ways.”
When asked, why “Black Panth”er is just as worthy of celebration as other celebrated Marvel films like Spiderman and Batman, Combs told the AFRO, “When you think about the history of superheroes and comics, African Americans have really not been sort of the main… This one is different in the fact that its unapologetic about the fact that the superhero, the protagonist, the main character is African, is unapologetically Black and I think that…you can’t deny that as a significant moment in a history when people have been erased,” she said.
For more information about the African American Museum of History & Culture and their upcoming events, exhibits, visit https://nmaahc.si.edu.