Black Panther set designer Hannah Beachler reveals that they made sure that the kind of technology and futuristic gadgets, weapons and armors are distinguishable from the ones we have previously seen Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) fiddling on in his Iron Man films.
Beachler was tasked to bring Wakanda to life on the big screen, even going on location trips to South Africa to mine inspiration that she can use on built sets for Black Panther. Since the backdrop is supposed to be unexplored, she was given total creative freedom to create the nation in the way she deemed appropriate. However, given that the fictional African nation is supposedly a breeding ground for advanced technology which is something that is heavily featured in the Iron Man standalones, she and her team made the conscious effort to make sure that they’re bringing something to the table when it comes to gadgets and other high technology paraphernalia
Speaking with us during our visit on the set of the Marvel blockbuster, Beachler explained the reason why they had to shy away from Stark-esque tech, saying that they wanted to go a different route and introduce something that people have not really seen before:
“I think one thing Ryan and I came in wanting to do is break all the rules. While we do have to be thoughtful and mindful about MCU, one of our things was it isn’t like any place else and because it was supposed to be advanced, it couldn’t be. And it oftentimes is hard to do something that’s advanced. Not alien, but advanced, ‘cause this is set in 2018. You know, you don’t want to take it to that place, but you still have to feel connected to the rest of the universe. So, that was a challenge to do that and keep it standing alone. The one thing, you know, we’ve been mindful of talking a lot about is Iron Man, because he really was the one that set the pace for what you know as being, you know with Marvel, being futuristic. And he is the richest man ever so he can have whatever he wants. So we did have to be mindful of how we’re going to make it different. Why we’re going a different route with the technology in this one because you’re used to seeing Tony Stark’s holograms and the blue and the … sort of all the crazy things he can do. And we wanted Wakandans to be able to do, and especially T’Challa, to do the same thing, but not have it be as recognizable as what Tony Stark is doing.”
Considering that Shuri (Letitia Wright), T’Challa’s (Chadwick Boseman) younger sister has already been confirmed to be smarter than Tony, we expect that the tech she develops for her brother and her country will be more advanced than that of what we have seen the “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” has come up with. But from an aesthetic standpoint based on what we have seen in Black Panther trailers, it appears like Wakandan tech is more stylized and less industrial looking. The Dora Milaje’s ring weapons and even the Princess’ gauntlet definitely have an African vibe, illustrating the country’s mix of rich cultural roots with high technology.
While there will always be a friendly competition, especially knowing Tony’s super-sized ego, both Stark and Wakandan tech will be utilized to help Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and their allies to thwart supervillain Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) plans to gather all six magical Infinity gems to execute his universe-altering plans come Avengers: Infinity War. Iron Man has long been preparing for the onslaught that is to come, almost since he got that premonition in Age of Ultron, and we know that he continues to develop new weapons and armor to make sure his bases are covered given that his team is still divided. Shuri and the rest of Wakanda, on the other hand, will likewise do some prep work considering that the mad Titan will specifically target the high-tech notion possibly due to the Soul Stone being hidden in it.
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