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The 2020 Pantone Color of the Year is an Avengers favorite

By Emma Fraser
captain marvel poster

Kree colors are so 2013 — at least, this is the case if you follow the Pantone Color of the Year announcements. In Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers' (Brie Larson) Starforce suit can change its palette (a nifty camouflage trick providing extra support during missions), which allows her to later take back control of the identity that had been removed from her memory.

Enlisting the help of Monica Rambeau (Akira Akbar), she cycles through some options before landing on the definite combination. To reclaim a piece of her past, her role as Air Force pilot informs the suit rebranding. The red, white, and yellow combination is a primary color trifecta jackpot, mirroring the 2012 comic relaunch and paying homage to the contemporary version of a character (as well as her long storied 50-plus years history).   

Brie Larson in Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel is very much on trend for the next decade, as Pantone recently revealed that the 2020 Color of the Year is 19-4052, aka Classic Blue: “Instilling calm, confidence, and connection, this enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.” It might not have the pizzazz of 2012’s Tangerine Tango or the passion of Chili Pepper from 2007, but the choice of Classic Blue says a lot about the last 12 months, the future, and the characters who wear it.

This shade is also worn by Captain America (Chris Evans), another symbol of stability in the MCU. Both Carol and Steve led the way in Avengers: Endgame, making a huge impact in the fight against Thanos (Josh Brolin). This isn't to discredit Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey, Jr.) input and sacrifice, as his suit is part Chili Pepper, part Mimosa (the 2009 color) innovation. Considering the first Iron Man debuted in 2008, the Color of the Year loves a Marvel theme.

Captain Marvel Brie Larson

“A timeless and enduring blue hue, PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue is elegant in its simplicity,” adds the press release. As the First Avenger, the timeless and enduring element definitely applies to Cap and it is rather poetic that America’s Ass is clad in this shade. Carol's abilities ensure she also has longevity and endurance on her side. The following statement could apply to how both Captains operate and the symbolic nature of their overall image: “Imprinted in our psyches as a restful color, PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue brings a sense of peace and tranquility to the human spirit, offering refuge." In the time of therapeutic need, Steve Rogers was a symbol for talking it out. 

Compared to the sky at dusk, Pantone’s 2020 Color of the Year is a wistful wisp of hope as we launch into a new year (and decade), which will likely continue this contentious political landscape — after all, it is an election year. Trends in fashion, art, design, and pop culture do play a role in the shade that is chosen, nodding to the mood of the era.

As the "global authority for color communication and inspiration since 1963," Pantone launched the Color of the Year in 1999. Cerulean Blue was the shade for the new millennium. For some, this will conjure Miranda Priestly’s (Meryl Streep) cutting speech in The Devil Wears Prada, but X-Files fans will likely remember mind-control killer Robert Patrick Modell’s (Robert Wisden) fondness for this as a murder weapon — first via a truck in this color in the 1996 episode "Pusher," followed by using Cerulean Blue paint in the follow-up “Kitsunegari” two years later, which sent a strong and disturbing message to the FBI agents. In this case, The X-Files was way ahead of the curve.

For Pantone, it has a far less sinister meaning. “In this stressful, high-tech era, we will be searching for solace and Cerulean Blue produces the perfect calming effect.” Ah, the fears of Y2K seem so quaint now. Were we ever so young? 

The link between Pantone’s first Color of the Year and the choice two decades later is “the dependability factor of blue.” It might not be the most innovative or exciting shade, but most closets will have go-to garments leaning into this aesthetic, whether it is a pair of jeans or a favorite sweater. It isn't going to break the fashion wheel, but it can still make a statement. Just look at Brie Larson at the European premiere of Captain Marvel or even the Juicy Couture version of her iconic costume.    

Spider-Man Far From Home Tom Holland
 “A reflective blue tone, Classic Blue fosters resilience,” Pantone observes, which is also a foundational aspect of Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Wonder Woman's (Gal Gadot) costumes. It is a superhero go-to for a variety of aesthetic and symbolic reasons ranging from patriotism to the timeless factor. There is a reason it has "Classic" in its Pantone name. 

In an interview earlier this year with Marvel Studios Director of Visual Development, Andy Park told Fashionista that the color choice has a deeper meaning. "I am now Captain Marvel and I'm embracing my emotions. I'm embracing who I am and I'm no longer being pushed down, as I was my whole life."

Walk into 2020 like Carol Danvers discovering who she is, all while wearing Classic Blue.