This Black Panther Pin Has One Very Serious Problem (UPDATE)

Image: Marvel Studios
Image: Marvel Studios
Toys and CollectiblesAction figures, statues, exclusives, and other merchandise. Beware: if you look here, you’re probably going to spend some money afterwards.

Disney theme parks are a great place to get exclusive merchandise and souvenirs featuring all your favorite characters. That is, unless those pieces of merchandise make awful, embarrassing mistakes.

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Like now: According to Disney Pins, a website devoted to tracking the various pins purchasable at Disney parks and other outlets, the latest Black Panther pin reportedly being sold at Walt Disney World has a problem. Here, just take a look:

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That pin was not made in Wakanda.

It’s possible this is an attempt to show the lenses of the costume’s mask, with T’Challa’s eyes underneath. But that is not the way it looks. It looks like, according to Disney World, Black Panther is a white dude.

Whoever this guy is, it is not the Black Panther. In fact, I cannot imagine who that is, other than an incarnation of someone in a design studio somewhere not paying adequate attention to their work and a bunch of other merchandising people somehow not catching this in quality control.

Illustration for article titled This Black Panther Pin Has One Very Serious Problem (UPDATE)
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I am very, very confused. As pointed out by Alex Zalben, the Managing Editor at TV Guide, on Twitter, the design here bears a resemblance to a mug being sold on Disney’s website. Only that one has the right colors. What happened here?

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I’ve reached out to Disney PR, and will update this post if/when I hear back. In the meantime, if you’re at Disney World this weekend and can substantiate this pin’s existence, get at me. But maybe don’t buy it.

UPDATE 1/7/18 4:19PMEST: Some have claimed that the above image is photoshopped, and Julia Alexander of Polygon reached out to the author of the post on Disney Pins for clarification. This is what she found out:

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Okay, that’s maybe not as egregious. At this point, I’m just confused. Waiting for updates from Disney, will report back when they respond. And if you see one of these in the wild, please take a picture and send it to us!

[Twitter, h/t Donna Dickens]

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io9 Weekend Editor. Videogame writer at other places. Queer nerd girl.

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DISCUSSION

Hypothetical question:
If dude (or lady) of another race wanted to cosplay as Black Panther, do you consider that racist? I don’t mean wearing blackface. I just mean putting on the armor (with mask).

Asking not for myself, but as a hypothetical thought I just had, because I’ve seen non-black guys cosplay as, for example, Barret from FFVII. But Barret isn’t generally held as a symbol of black civil rights the way Black Panther has been. Then again, I’ve seen non-black women cosplay as Storm.

And, of course, there’s an endless number of examples of men and women of various ethnicities cosplaying as Asian characters.

Personally, I think cosplay is one of those “colorblind” hobbies where anyone can be whatever character they want. But ya never know these days.