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18 Mind-Blowing Details About The Dora Milaje Costumes In "Black Panther"

Wakanda forever!

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If you’re one of the blessed many who’ve had the chance to see Black Panther, then I probably don’t need to explain to you that the badass Dora Milaje are one of the best parts of the movie.

Marvel Studios

And, that’s saying a lot since, you know, the entire movie is effing amazing.

But, we wanted to know a little more about Wakanda’s elite warrior team, so we sat down with one of Marvel’s Senior Visual Development Illustrators, Anthony Francisco, to find out some behind-the-scenes facts about the Dora Milaje's now iconic big-screen look.

1. Although there are only a few members of Marvel Studios' in-house Visual Development team, dozens more freelance artists helped design the look for the Dora Milaje.

Marvel Studios

Some of the freelance artists who also contributed to the Dora Milaje's look include Concept Illustrator Karla Ortiz (who also designed the final look for Dr. Strange), Costume Concept Artist Phillip Boutte Jr. (who worked on other looks for the Dora Milaje), and Costume Concept Artist Keith Christensen (who created their buckle lion head design).

2. The Dora Milaje costumes were inspired by a fusion of both African and Filipino artifacts.

Crystal Ro / BuzzFeed, Dondi Tawatao / Getty

Francisco grew up in the Philippines, and one of his relatives had a lot of African artifacts and Filipino tribal decor in their house, so he considers the Dora Milaje's design very personal.


6. Another inspiration for this unique footwear came from modern day running “toe” shoes.

billybackpac / Via

Francisco said he was really into running at that time, and loved the idea of that kind of modernity playing into their footwear.


7. In the comics, there’s another version of the Dora Milaje uniforms that are blue and green.

Brian Stelfreeze / Marvel / Via

However, Francisco preferred the warmth of the red and orange uniforms seen in other comics.

8. When initially conceptualizing the look for the Dora Milaje, Francisco illustrated a key frame where he imagined Nakia and Okoye "hunting side-by-side like lionesses."

Anthony Francisco / Marvel Studios

(A key frame is a piece of art that gives a sense of the look and tone to a scene.)

9. Another influence on the design for the Dora Milaje was the Black Panther costume in Captain America: Civil War.

The Black Panther costume in Civil War was designed by Marvel Studios Head of Visual Development, Ryan Meinerding.

10. The Dora Milaje uniforms were designed to be modular, i.e. made from several pieces.

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The idea being that they could fit every body type since mobility was very important to the design...'cause, ya know, when you're kicking-ass you need to move!


12. You’ll also notice, because she is a superior ranking officer, Okoye’s uniform has different coloring and is also a little more ornate.

Okoye on the left, Nakia on the right.

13. The pattern and the beading on Okoye's tabard was inspired by a table runner in Francisco’s aunt’s house.

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He had distinct memories of seeing that design growing up in the Philippines.


15. The gold rings on Okoye’s uniform are meant to be trinkets inspired by good luck charms from Filipino culture.

Marvel Studios

The idea being they were attached to the uniform for superstitious beliefs.

16. Because Okoye is a traditionalist, Francisco wanted her look to feel symmetrical and have a solid foundation, so the use of a spear as her weapon was very purposeful.

Anthony Francisco / Marvel Studios

In the comics, the Dora Milaje use a variety of weapons.

17. Conversely, when Nakia is in a Dora Milaje uniform, her weapon is a pair of rings.

Marvel Studios

Francisco explained he wanted it to portray that she was more open to new ideas, vs. the sharp solidity of Okoye’s spear.

18. And finally, ironically, when Francisco was creating illustrations of Okoye in the development phase, he had painted Danai Gurira into the character...before she was even cast!

Marvel Studios, Gene Page / AMC

Francisco is a big fan of Gurira and her character Michonne in The Walking Dead.

To see more of Anthony Francisco's incredible artwork, be sure to follow him on Instagram!