“I used to go to a comic shop right next to my elementary school in between basketball practice and track practice. We would go there and hang out. I remember one day, I asked the comic book owners, ‘Are there any comic books about black people? Like X-Men or different things?’ And he pointed out a couple of issues of Black Panther.”
That’s what Black Panther director Ryan Coogler told MTV News a couple of years ago. That same kid who grew up reading T’Challa’s comic book adventure has now grown into the man who gets to bring him to the big screen in his first solo film, and it’s kind of a big deal. 72 hours from now, Black Panther will have re-written the box office history book and wiped out Hollywood’s long-standing belief that movies about black people have a limited commercial appeal. No movie this unabashedly black (black director, almost entirely black cast, set in Africa) has ever been made at this level ($200m budget, opening in nearly 4,000 theaters domestically), and as The New York Times said: “Black Panther is a defining moment for Black America.”
Yeah, but what did Black Panther look like in that first comic book Coogler picked up all those years ago?
I’m just curious. Has Black Panther always looked the way he does in the movies?
I…I don’t know. The character was first introduced in the late 60s. So, I’m guessing there have been some funky costume changes over the years. If only there was some handy-dandy infographic charting the character’s history we could consult.
Oh, wait. There totally is!
Originated by the good people over HalloweenCostumes.com, the following infographic chiefly serves as a sartorial history of Black Panther. However, it also pulls double duty as a general summation of Black Panther’s comic book history and is more than worth a look before seeing the movie.
Based on the infographic, I would guess Coogler, who is only 31, was probably turned onto the late 90s version of Black Panther if that comic book store owner directed him to the then-current version of the character. But it’s also possible he was directed to a bunch of back issues. Either way, I think he, in collaboration with his costume designers, has presented the best version the Black Panther costume yet.
What about you? Is there a particular Black Panther era or costume you prefer? Or is the film version started in Civil War and carried over into Black Panther the definitive version for you? Let me know in the comments.