When folks say movies are made in computers, they’re right; some of the best action films exist not on location, but rather in huge sound stages where incredible sights and sounds are created post-production. For movies like Guardians of The Galaxy, it makes sense; you’re not going to shoot on-location in outer space. For a movie like Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Captain America: Civil War, filming climatic set pieces on a sound stage allow the filmmakers to tweak details and effects in a much easier-to-control enviornment. You need not worry about elements, natural lighting, audio distractions, or any number of issues that can occur while shooting outside in the proverbial wild.
But when it comes to a movie like the absolutely incredible Black Panther – a movie which is celebrated for its authenticity and celebration of African culture – there is a question of how much of the film was shot on location in Africa. Naturally, Wakanda is not a real place; so shooting ‘on location’ is clearly not possible. However, the setting of Africa is paramount to the film’s success. When you look at films like Braveheart, Dances With Wolves, and the recent Wind River; the sense of place is almost a character in the movie; you ‘feel’ the lushness of Braveheart’s Scotland, the wide-open wilderness of South Dakota and Wyoming, and the cold, frigid, isolating nature of the Wind River Native American Reservation. Wakanda, in its own way, feels like that too.
Wakanda is such a realized place, and the world of the film so sensational and ‘real’, you’d assume the movie would have filmed quite a bit in Africa. But it turns out, not so much. According to IMDB; there were 14 filming sites for Black Panther in three locations; Argentina, Georgia, and South Korea.
In fact, it’s possible more of Black Panther was filmed in South Korea than it was in Africa – as parts of the stunning car chase sequence were filmed on-location in South Korea. Otherwise, that incredible Water Fall for the royal ceremony? It’s a set composted from Argentina. The frozen tundra of M’Baku’s domain? Blue screen on a set probably in Georgia. Even the scenes taking place in Oakland, were likely shot in Georgia, too. The scenes in the market? A closed set.
Those amazing, sweeping shots of the African landscape were of course legit, provided by Marzano films’ spectacular Ariel photography. They report: Marzano Films were delighted to be involved with Marval Studios and the production of Black Panther. Locations included South Africa, Zambia, Uganda and South Korea. We provided aerial co-ordination services as well as the Eclipse XL and the new state of the art mini Eclipse.
For some more insight into how the movie was created in-studio and out, Atlas of Wonders has an incredible breakdown detailing how much of the film was shot, and where.
The question is, does this matter? It depends. A good chunk of Black Panther tends to take place in-doors, in Shuri’s Q-like den of wonder of and invention, T’Challa’s throne room, and inside the Vibranium mine. Absconding an entire professional production crew, including stars like Angela Basset and Forest Whitaker, to Africa to shoot scenes that could be as produced indoors, state-side, seems a like a bit of stretch; even for a flick with a $200 million dollar budget.
So in the interest of time, money, and control, they fudged it.
Which isn’t a big deal. Part of movie making is magic. Slight of hand. An illusion. If you, as a movie-goer, believe in the world of Wakanda; does it matter if it was created in a computer? Does it matter that Georgia stood in for Oakland? If the movie made you feel the way it intended to make you feel, and inspired you the way it inspired millions of people across the globe, it shouldn’t. After all, Avatar’s Pandora, and the people and creatures that lived there, were almost entirely computer generated – and it felt just about as real as anything else.
As for Wakanda, it’s a nice place to visit, but unfortunately, it’s impossible to shoot there.