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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.

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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.

Crystal Ro / BuzzFeed

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.

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).
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.

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.
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.

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3. And the tabards were partially inspired by the beading in friendship bracelets, too.

You know, like the ones we all made as kids in school.
Crystal Ro / BuzzFeed, zybrinn / instagram.com

You know, like the ones we all made as kids in school.

4. The angles on the costumes’ design, like in the shoulder armor, was inspired by the martial arts, in particular the look of samurai armor.

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5. Even the Dora Milaje’s split-toed shoes are meant to look like samurai, or even ninja, shoes.

Crystal Ro / BuzzFeed, Felice Beato / Getty

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

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

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

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

However, Francisco preferred the warmth of the red and orange uniforms seen in other comics.
Brian Stelfreeze / Marvel / Via marvel.com

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."

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

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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.

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!
Marvel Studios

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!

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11. Okoye has gold armor (versus the rest of the elite squad’s silver), which denotes her rank as the Dora Milaje’s general.

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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.

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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.

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

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

14. And her chest piece is meant to be like a bullet-proof vest.

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

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

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

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

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