Disney Infinity has some new fighters, and they come not just from the pages of Marvel Comics, but from the big screen. Black Panther, Vision, and Ant-Man all join "Captain America: The First Avenger" as new characters today, and they all look much like they will in Captain America: Civil War in May. That came into the process very early on when creating these figures' designs, Creative and Art Director Jeff Bunker told ComicBook.com in an exclusive interview. Looking at the Black Panther in particular, Bunker said they looked at comics, the film art, and of course, cats.
"First, we look at all the reference we can. We looked at a lot of comic books and the early concept art that was coming from Captain America: Civil War," Bunker said. "Obviously, he takes on the characteristics of the big cat, the black panther, so we wanted to make him look aggressive, menacing, and cat like. We did probably four or five different poses like that, and what we ended up with was the winner. I really like how it turned out."
Working on the characters using Marvel Studios reference, Bunker and his team have to work very closely with those on the film side of the company.
"The big challenge is we're trying to make these figures just as they're deciding what the characters will look like in the films – we're right up on the heels of the filmmakers. It's certainly worth it to go in that direction, though," Bunker said. "There's a whole other level of approvals, as well, going a level deeper with the filmmakers. It's fun and rewarding, though."
The design of the characters is a two-fold process, as they design their still-shot figures and their in-motion digital versions simultaneously. That's where some of the partner studios that Avalanche, the original creators of Disney Infinity, have brought to the table come in. United Front and Ninja Theory, with their new takes on combat, have "helped open up our thoughts of what Disney Infinity can be," Bunker said. "We're learning from them, and they're learning from us, and I think it has changed our approach somewhat. All these new studios coming in and helping us is feeding creativity with each other, it's a really nice collaboration."
That also opened them up to new fighting styles for the scrappy Black Panther, so that he wasn't just another martial artist or blade-wielding hand-to-hand fighter like Iron Fist or Drax before him. They used a Brazilian Capoeira martial arts style as inspiration to make him "feel different, very fluid" in all his animations.
Just as important as his cat-like looks was a sense of majesty, something Chadwick Boseman projects in even his brief appearances on screen in the Civil War trailers.
"We started with four or five poses, and some of them were not as majestic, they were only cat-like. There's something more dignified about Black Panther" that they tried to capture. They also had the challenge of a character whose look was almost entirely black, adding sharper lines of silver than they had before to "help add to the majesty." The figure has the deepest texture, with different layers and shading of blacks on it, that they've ever had on a character figure. They used a similar process with Vision's cape to help "break up those big surfaces in different and exciting ways."
While the early figures came primarily from comic book and animated inspiration, Bunker's glad to be getting "deep into the Marvel Cinematic Universe" now, something he actually asked Disney to do at the beginning.
"They told us, 'Infinity is going to be out there for awhile and you need to be patient,' and that's turned out just right. It's rolled out the same way Marvel rolled out their characters, so now we're starting to come out with these characters from the film. Tapping into Black Panther, Ant-Man, and Vision, it's fun to find them in a different way," Bunker said.
Disney Infinity 3.0: Marvel Battlegrounds and Black Panther, Vision, Ant-Man, and Black Suit Spider-Man are in stores now.