Quite often, the post-release analysis for a highly anticipated movie can yield little of interest – beyond offering a glimpse of, ‘here’s what you could have had.’ But, every once in a while, these types of revelations can provide a fascinating snapshot of important decision processes undertaken during pre-production, and Black Panther is now one such example.
Of course, it helps that the film is an outstanding piece of cinema from start to finish, so there’s nothing really to gripe about, while yearning wistfully for what might have been. Instead, what we have is an image shared on Twitter by concept artist (and Head of Visual Development at Marvel Studios) Ryan Meinerding, displaying an early version of the Panther suit worn by Erik Killmonger – played by Michael B. Jordan.
In the movie, Killmonger ultimately wears something that’s a unique spin on the Black Panther costume – mostly burnished gold with brighter gold accents – known as the Golden Jaguar. It’s a formidable and intimidating suit, and seems to be perfect for the character. But at one point, a different design was considered, and it was one which notably provided an external continuation of Killmonger’s extensive physical scars.
Check it out in the gallery down below, along with the caption Meinerding shared:
This is an unused Panther design I did. The bundles of rough thread are to represent Killmonger’s scarification. @N_I_Z_Z_I incorporated that in the final Killmonger design. Final #BlackPanther design is by the amazing @Adi_Granov
While this suit design was not selected for the final version, it’s possible to see a variation of the idea of the depiction of the scarification in the Golden Jaguar suit used in the film. Though it dispenses with the use of rough thread to represent the scarring, there are similar lines worked across the surface of the material – albeit with a smoother finish.
The reason this is an interesting reveal, is because the selection of the suit design goes much further than just making the villain look cool. In choosing the Golden Jaguar suit with the smoother surface, Ryan Coogler is able to achieve at least two things.
Firstly, Killmonger’s suit looks sufficiently different to that of T’Challa, so as to make the final battle even more of a visual treat. Secondly, it provides Killmonger with two highly impactful ‘reveal’ shots – firstly, when he reveals his physical scarring, and secondly, when he reveals his Jaguar suit. If the scarring was too visible on the suit, those two shots would be far too similar. Instead, both moments within the movie stand alone as epic statements about the power of the character.
Black Panther can be seen in theatres everywhere now, and is already breaking records left, right and center.