From Haida Gwaii to Wakanda: Indigenous artist gets first major film credit with Black Panther

A Haida animator was responsible for helping the world of Wakanda come alive in a film that is breaking barriers at the box office.

'My mom was ecstatic, she's still ecstatic,' B.C. animator says

B.C. animator Josh Samuels was one of the people who made the special effects of 'Black Panther' come alive. (Josh Samuels/Marvel Studios)

When B.C.'s Josh Samuels was hired for a new job, he had no idea he would be taking part in creating the world of Marvel's Black Panther on the big screen.

"They couldn't tell me which movie I'd be going on to," he said. "I only found out on my first day."

The Vancouver animator, originally from Haida Gwaii, became part of one of the year's biggest films through Method Studios.

The video effects company was contracted to create the fictional world of Wakanda where most of the movie takes place, as well as the specialized suits worn by the title character and his main adversary in their final battle.

Samuels was hired for his training as an animator whose knowledge of light and composition could help make the effects of the film look realistic from all angles.

An element of realism in Black Panther's futuristic suits was added by B.C.'s Josh Samuels. (Marvel Studios)

And just as Method Studios couldn't tell him what movie he was working on until his first day, Samuels couldn't tell anyone about the project until the movie's first trailer came out.

"My mom was ecstatic," he said. "She's still ecstatic."

In fact, Samuels said many people from his home community on Haida Gwaii are thrilled to see him take part in a movie that is breaking box office records and winning critical acclaim.

And as a member of the Haida Nation, he said he's proud to have worked on a movie that is viewed as opening new avenues for people of colour to take part in the entertainment industry.

By featuring a predominantly black cast while making millions, the film has opened a conversation about the possibilities for even more diversity on the big screen.

For his part, Samuels did some digging into Marvel's superhero roster to see who he'd like to get a title role — possibly with his help.

"They do have Red Wolf, a Native American super hero," he said. "That'd be amazing."

To celebrate his role in making the movie, Samuels created his own Black Panther painting. (Josh Samuels)

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