Here's a stunning fact we just learned about Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War

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Sep 20, 2016, 6:52 PM EDT (Updated)

That amazing-looking Black Panther costume worn by Chadwick Boseman? It's not really there.

In the commentary track by directors Anthony and Joe Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely that is contained on the recently released Blu-ray for Captain America: Civil War, Joe Russo reveals an astonishing fact, confirmed by the others: Every single shot of Black Panther that you see in the movie is CG. And not just the obvious action scenes, like when he is leaping onto cars and motorcycles during that chase scene in the tunnel. No, every time you see T'Challa in costume -- even, for example, that first majestic shot of him standing before Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) -- is a digitally created visual effect.

Industrial Light & Magic did the heavy lifting when it came to bringing Black Panther to life, and here's how Joe Russo explained the decision to make him fully CG:

"[They] really did a ton of work on that outfit. I mean, we had an outfit that we used on set. It’s impossible when you’re talking about an otherworldly outfit like the one that the Panther wears, which has a certain luminescence to it because it’s made of a woven metal. We could never afford to construct an outfit like that that an actor or a stunt player could move around in without sweating to death or that would capture the luminescence that we need. So what we ended up doing in post is ILM came in and painted over Chadwick and the stuntman. The outfit is completely CG."

There was indeed a suit on set, and Chadwick Boseman or a stuntman was usually in it. But you can see that while it does look somewhat like what we see in the movie, the finished version is indeed sleeker and shinier:


So, while Boseman or his stunt double was there in a version of the suit, they were ultimately "painted over," to use Joe Russo's phrase, with the CG T'Challa -- much as Andy Serkis is "painted over" with the image of Caesar in the two recent Planet of the Apes movies or Mark Ruffalo is replaced with the Hulk in the Avengers films.

But as Screencrush notes -- and I agree -- the work done here on the Panther is truly exceptional. There are lots of instances in Civil War where you know you're watching the characters in CG (Spider-Man and Iron Man especially come to mind), but there are also plenty of shots of T'Challa that I will go back and re-examine because I was frankly fooled by them.

The obvious question is: Will director Ryan Coogler employ the same technique on the Black Panther standalone movie? I'd say the chances are high, because it doesn't seem like they can invent a practical suit anytime soon that looks the way "woven vibranium" looks when rendered by CG, or that won't suffocate the actor inside. I'm fine with that if they match or even exceed the work they've done wit him in Civil War, what about you?

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