Image: Marvel, Till Nowak

Wakanda’s always been a technologically advanced nation, though its cities have been depicted in so many unique, disparate ways in Marvel’s various comics that it’s difficult to imagine what it might look like in real life. But that’s exactly what the team of concept artists behind the film have done, and their illustrations are almost too stunning to describe.

During io9's visit to the Black Panther set, costume designer Ruth Carter explained that while crafting the various kinds of fashion Wakandans would wear, she made a point of differentiating the styles between different districts within its cities. Steppe Town (depicted in the above illustration by Till Nowak) is meant to be Wakanda’s equivalent to a borough like Brooklyn. According to Carter:

“And then I’d say another district was like the Upper West Side, where there’s more families and it’s more settled down, but it’s still New York. I used Manhattan, basically, as my way of remembering how I was going to view different parts of Wakanda. And it kind of did make sense, you know. There’s an area that’s mainly medical, so I was like, yeah, that’s like UCLA medical area.”

Marvel, Till Nowak

Other settings in the city, like the throne room of the royal family, are unsurprisingly situated higher up at a level that conveys Wakanda’s scale. Though we’ve seen plenty of shots of T’Challa and the Dora Milaje out in the field kicking all kinds of ass, it’ll be impressive to see if the film’s scenes within the controlled environment of the palace manage to capture the concept art’s grandeur and scale.

Marvel, Till Nowak

Out of all the concept art, the piece we’ve actually seen at least a part of rendered in real life is Shuri’s lab. There have been a few fleeting glimpses of the Wakandan princess’ HQ and they appear to closely resemble illustrator Drew Leung’s early vision for it. The clean, warm white light in Leung’s rendering of the lab has been carried over to the film and the illustration gives you the sense that the lab may actually be underground.

Marvel, Drew Leung

If there was still any doubt in your mind that the MCU’s depiction of Wakanda is going to be absolutely stunning, let this art be a gentle reminder that once you actually see the film, you’re probably going to want to move there. Which, you know, you can’t because they don’t like outsiders.


Black Panther opens February 16.

io9 Culture Critic and Staff Writer. Cyclops was right.

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