From Wakanda to Washington: Black Panther’s Vibranium Suit Heads to the Smithsonian

The iconic armour is entering the permanent collection of the National Museum of African American History, and will go on show this autumn

Black Panther, 2018, film still. Courtesy: Marvel Studios

Black Panther, 2018, film still. Courtesy: Marvel Studios

Following on from its cinematic success earlier this year, Black Panther is getting the museum treatment. Props from the Afrofuturist blockbuster, including the eponymous hero’s ‘vibranium’ armour – worn by Chadwick Boseman in the film – are heading to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.

The iconic suit and a script signed by film director Ryan Coogler, alongside other pieces from the film, will enter the museum’s permanent collection. They will be displayed during the Smithsonian’s African American Film Festival this October.

The character of the Black Panther, king of the never-colonized Wakanda, made its debut in a July 1966 Marvel comic – Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four #52 – becoming the first black superhero in US comic-book history. In 2016, Marvel launched a new Black Panther storyline written by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

‘Black Panther is the first superhero of African descent to appear in mainstream American comics, and the film itself is the first major cinematic production based on the character,’ the museum said in a statement. ‘Black Panther illustrates the progression of blacks in film, an industry that in the past has overlooked blacks, or regulated them to flat, one-dimensional and marginalized figures.’

Don’t miss Gerry Canavan writing in frieze on the limits to the transcendent Afrofuturism of Coogler’s Black Panther: ‘Whatever Marvel decides, franchise time demands that the question of Wakandan superiority and its potential challenge to American empire will ultimately just fade into the murky past of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.’

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