Here's how Dayton native Hannah Beachler helped bring 'Black Panther' to life on the big screen By margaret mcgurk / wcpo contributor

Production designer Hannah Beachler wants you to know that “Black Panther” is a lot of fun to watch. But it's something more, too.

“This whole movie is about having reverence for African culture and African-American culture,” said the Dayton, Ohio, native, who attended both the University of Cincinnati and Wright State University.

“We spent the time to see everything was done right. It's not just another movie. It's something we put every fiber of our being into. This is not a one-off, six-months-moving-on kind of thing,” she said. “Every piece of everything we did is part of the tradition in Africa. We really don't want it to get lost in translation.”

Beachler is excited at the prospect of young children finding inspiration in dark-skinned heroes. “Representation matters. You cannot be it if you do not see it. ... It might be political for some people, but there is a message in the images, and it's very clear what it is.

“This is an opportunity to really learn about another culture and see value in other people.”

Her vision for the fictional world of Black Panther, a Marvel comics hero who first appeared in 1966, was forged in consultation with film director Ryan Coogler and executive producer Louis Esposito, both experts in the ever-changing universe of Marvel Comics.

“We used a lot of the source material (comics) for inspiration. We created something I think is pretty stand-alone. There is a lot of homage and nods to the original,” she said.

Seeing is believing. Here is a glimpse of what they created, with commentary from Beachler in quotes.

The Warrior Falls set, based on Oribi Gorge in South Africa, took four months and more than 25,000 cubic feet of foam to build. It was used for two weeks. (All photos provided by Marvel Studios.)
“There is a certain building shape you notice through all the comics, almost a half-circle, curved building. So I sort of continued that tradition. The shape of the building came from the original and how this city felt, being hidden and in the middle of a rainforest and being in a valley.”
“The color story for the characters is very much Ryan [Coogler]. We think people's origins and status are established through color. One example: There is a military tribe, sort of like the Border Patrol, who wear blue Lesotho blankets.” From left: Michael B. Jordan stars as Erik Killmonger and Daniel Kaluuya stars as W'Kabi.
Forest Whitaker (Zuri) in a costume based on a ceremonial Ugandan robe. “It took six weeks to build that. It's very traditional -- each layer has a specific meaning. ... Nothing was done arbitrarily.”
Okoye (portrayed by Danai Gurira) always appears in red. That is also the color of the Maasai tribe of Tanzania and Kenya.
Chadwick Boseman stars as T'Challa (Black Panther). The royal colors are black and purple.
“Then you have the princess (Shuri, played by Letitia Wright) no one can control. She's the smartest person in world -- and she's 16.”
The hats that Ramonda (portrayed by Angela Bassett) wears are based on traditional Zulu headwear.
The throne is on top of an ancient pyramid, based on a structure in Timbuktu. “There is a point where you can see how far down that pyramid goes all through the palace, when they are down in a den below ground. Essentially it is the first piece of the palace built 15,000 years before. They have reverence for that.” The white symbols inscribed on the pillars comes from from 5th-century Nigeria, before colonization. “It's really about cryptography. The symbols have names. It hasn't been lost. It is still part of Nigerian culture.”
The Black Panther suit and mask were conceived largely by director Ryan Coogler and executive producer Louis Esposito, based on the various depictions of Black Panther throughout the Marvel Comics universe.
Lupita Nyong'o (Nakia) in an underground casino in South Korea, though the interior scenes were shot in Atlanta. “We wanted that to be very beautiful, like a Bond movie. We wanted it to be very international, very global, where you have a very sexy, glamorous environment.”
“We have people with tattoos, scarification, body modification. Traditionally we are told those things are shameful and ugly and bad because people don't understand it. What we said is, 'No, no, no, this is a different form of beauty. It is part of our culture -- you have nothing to feel shameful about.' You fear what you don't understand. It's good for people to see this, to experience what it is.” Shown at left: T'Challa/ Black Panther (Boseman) battles Erik Killmonger (Jordan), whose ritual scars record his victims; at right: Daniel Kaluuya as W'Kabi.
Director Ryan Coogler (center) on set with Andy Serkis (right) who plays Ulysses Klaue. Beachler cited a connection with another film she worked on for director Ryan Coogler. “'Creed' (2015) is a ton of fun, with this idea of a young man coming into his own and taking the brass ring for himself and feeling OK about that. I see that in 'Black Panther.' On top of that very deep message, you have all this great stuff, action and humor.” Coogler first hired Beachler for his critically acclaimed “Fruitvale Station” (2013). Now, she said, “He is my filmmaking family. I will always be there to do a movie with Ryan.”


Provided by Marvel Studios

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