Marvel Studios approached our team at Perception to craft a main on end title sequence to accompany their newest film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Following the success of the first Black Panther film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was sure to be just as impactful. However, with this film having a completely different tone as the first film, our team was challenged with crafting a title sequence that was both powerful and reflective of the film.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Main On End Title Sequence
A HISTORY OF COLLABORATION
Our team collaborated deeply with Marvel Studios on Black Panther, conceptualizing all of Wakanda’s technology and designing the main on end title sequence. Our partnership on Black Panther lasted 2 years, with our contributions becoming helping to extend and evolve the story of Wakanda in the world since Avengers: Endgame. It was this history of collaboration that sparked our collaboration on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever for both the technology design and the creation of the main on end title sequence.
“You built us a beautiful Main On End sequence that takes the quiet intensity of our final scene and blends beachy breezes with smoldering flames.”
– Marvel Studios
MONTAGE OF PERCEPTION'S WORK ON BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER
A SOMBER TONE
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever revolves around grief, mourning and healing. Throughout the film, the characters are dealing with changes to Wakanda. The film is steeped in loss and acceptance, and we needed to acknowledge that. It became the lens with which we explored title sequence concepts. A bright, energetic sequence celebrated the hope at the end of the first film, but Black Panther: Wakanda Forever needed to strike a different note. This title sequence would be a period that allowed the audience to reflect on the film and process their emotions, just as the characters in the film had. With this in mind, we began crafting our concepts.
Raw Footage of the Burning Cloth
THE RITUAL OF MOURNING
The last scene of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever shows Shuri burning her funeral clothing, something she has put off doing throughout the film. The burning of the cloth symbolizes the acceptance and passing of the sadness that the characters feel, so this moment is extremely cathartic. The emotion of this scene immediately struck our creative team. Our Chief Creative Director, Doug Appleton, first proposed the idea of bringing the audience into this ritual with Shuri.
Preparing the cloth for burning
To directly follow the final scene of the film, our team filmed and designed an end title sequence that focused on close and intimate shots of fire igniting and scorching the fabric of Shuri’s funeral clothing. As the sequence progresses and the mourning cloth burns away, the Black Panther suit is revealed on the end title card, representing Shuri letting her grief burn away so she can properly take on the mantle of the Black Panther.
Developing the digital Black Panther suit
PROOF OF CONCEPT
First, our team shot a proof of concept and put together a short edit of this title sequence to capture the mood, tone, potential pacing and visual style. This was filmed by our Art Director and Cinematographer, Christian Haberkern.
Behind the Scenes of the First Shoot
The animatic allowed our team to test our various fabrics burn, understand the best lighting for the sequence, study how the cloth would move and react to being burned on camera, and test technical specs like frame rate for the shoot.
Christian Haberkern filming the Proof of Concept
AN IMPACT ON THE FILM
When the team at Marvel Studios was presented with this proof of concept edit, they immediately loved it and included it in their friends & family screening of the film. Even with just a short animatic, the audience loved it and made comments on how fitting it was for the film.
In fact, the title sequence fit so perfectly into the film that Marvel Studios edited the final scene of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever so the film ends on the funeral cloth burning, then it cuts to our sequence, and then back to the final scene for the post credit scene.
On Set of the Title Sequence Shoot
USING A CUSTOM PANAVISION LENS
With this title sequence now sitting in the middle of two imperative scenes of the film, Autumn Durald Arkapaw, Director of Photography on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Loki, put together a special camera and lens package for us through Panavision tailored specifically for this title sequence. To film the title sequence, we used a Panavised Sony Venice 2 camera with Panavision Auto Panatar Super Speed Anamorphic Lens.
Unboxing the Camera and Lens Package
Autumn Durald Arkapaw used this one of a kind lens on this movie, and we captured our entire title sequence with it as well. This title sequence plays after such an important moment of the film that both our team and the team at Marvel Studios wanted the look of this sequence to match the look of the rest of the film, making those last moments of the film cohesive and unbroken.
The Panavised Sony Venice 2 camera with Panavision Auto Panatar Super Speed Anamorphic Lens
FILMING THE SEQUENCE
After receiving this incredible camera and lens package, Christian and our Creative Director, Greg Herman, went on a second shoot for the title sequence.
Filming with the Panavision Gear
This time, they filmed the cloth burning on a mountaintop to take advantage of the clear view from all 360 degrees, providing the perfect lighting and mood for filming. The team shot at sunset on the autumn equinox, capturing over 50 hours of raw footage.
CAPTURING THE CLOTH
Since Shuri’s funeral clothing is the main focus of this title sequence, we wanted the cloth we used to be as close to her costume as possible. The costume department at Marvel Studios was gracious enough to send us the actual wardrobe worn by Letitia Wright during the ritual of mourning. We studied the fabric, its weight, how it feels and flows.
Shuri's Costume from Marvel Studios
We then purchased similar fabric and replicated the intricate details and patterns from the original costume onto the duplicate fabric. We burned this fabric, and found that it didn’t burn exactly the way we had wanted. We needed a faster, more intimate and brighter burn. We then began experimenting with different fabric types and testing how they burned in order to find the perfect fabric for this sequence.
CONTROLLING THE FLAME
Because our team was using real flames instead of digitally imposed fire, we were working with an uncontrollable element. Fire is unpredictable and you can’t tell it what to do. With this in mind, we began inventing ways to control the flames so they burned the way we wanted.
One method we utilized was pouring butane fuel in a line over the cloth to direct the flame to burn in a certain path. We found that we could burn off the top layer of butane fuel from the fabric quickly and then it extinguishes. By doing this, we were able to guide the flame along the cloth to capture stunning, close shots while being able to get more burns out of the cloth. To help capture these tight shots, we used a macro lens.
"LIFT ME UP"
The music was another big element of this title sequence. While crafting this sequence, Marvel Studios informed us that the titles would be overplayed with Rihanna’s new song, “Lift Me Up”. We worked early on with a temp version of this track, but were excited to hear that Rihanna would be providing vocals for the final version of the song. This emotional, tender song offered the perfect beats and timing for us to pair this sequence with. When Rihanna sings “lift me up”, it was timed perfectly so Ryan Coogler’s name would appear on the beat. Along with this, the first time she sings “burning”, the flames begin to ignite on the cloth.
Frames Synced with Rihanna's Track
TAPPING INTO EMOTIONS
We often talk about the marriage of a film to the title sequence we create and we always try to make something that feels like it couldn’t exist without the film it was made for. After viewing early cuts of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, there was definitely an energy in our studio that this title sequence was born out of. It reflects how the audience feels and ties with the themes of the film. People will feel everything the characters have felt. This title sequence is about being present and letting yourself feel those emotions.
CHADWICK BOSEMAN MARVEL STUDIOS ANIMATION
Our team also designed the Chadwick Boseman themed Marvel Studios logo animation that precedes the film. We crafted this animation after Chadwick Boseman’s passing to play before Black Panther on Disney+ in 2020. For this film, we changed some of the clips and concept work to update it for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Chadwick Boseman Marvel Studios Animation
As a final wrap on this project, the incredible team at Marvel Studios sent us a signed Black Panther: Wakanda Forever poster, celebrating this 2 year long collaboration to bring each and every element of Wakanda to life!
Building this emotional, reflective title sequence was an honor for our team. Being so rooted in the world of Wakanda from Black Panther, we truly enjoyed revisiting this culture and story in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, through both our title sequence work and our technology VFX work. Discover the advanced technology that we conceptualized for Wakanda in our Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Technology Design case study.