Since it hit theaters six weeks ago, the only thing in the movie world that gets people as excited as “Black Panther” is kids re-enacting “Black Panther.”

One of those kids has even gone viral. A boynamed Jordan wrapped himself in a purple bath towel to dress up as Wakanda’s wise mentor, Zuri, even going so far as to faithfully recreate the ceremonial face paint worn by Forest Whitaker as he declared that “the power of the Black Panther will be stripped away.”

The man who designed that facepaint, makeup artist Joel Harlow, has worked on hit films such as “Logan,” “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Star Trek,” the latter of which earned him an Oscar. But seeing kids like Jordan recreate his work as they dress up as Zuri, Okoye, and Nakia has been one of the greatest rewards in his career.


Oscar winner and Black Panther makeup artist Joel Harlow has a long list of credits to his name. He is the man behind the makeup on films and shows such as Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Star Trek and Star Trek: Beyond (for which he won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Makeup), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mad Men, X-Men, and Logan. Most recently Harlow brought his talents to Black Panther where he was responsible for creating the tribal makeup, scars, and tattoos.

We spoke to Harlow about the challenges of working on a film like Black Panther and the process of combining the traditional with the futuristic.


There are superhero movies, and then there's Black Panther: A true piece of cinematic genius that takes the viewer on a glorious, action-packed, and thought-provoking ride from start to finish. Don't even get me started on the records it smashed or underrepresented audiences it served. As of today's date, the Marvel superhero flick broke yet another box office record by topping $1.1 billion worldwide.

That said, when I got the chance to interview Joel Harlow, the Academy Award-winning makeup designer and department head behind Black Panther, I was understandably excited to do so. He filled me in on how he and his team brought the incredible Wakandan ritual makeup, tribal masks, detailed body modification and tattoo art of the film to life. Wakanda forever


Saturday, 03 March 2018 19:09

What is a Cult Film? - Joel Harlow

Since its debut, Black Panther has evolved from a movie to a cultural phenomenon with its epic tale of the technologically advanced society of Wakanda, an El Dorado-like land in Africa. As the first of its kind, the Hollywood pros behind the film had to combine centuries of African tradition and their own universe-bending creativity to bring this story alive. For director Ryan Coogler, makeup designer Joel Harlow, who worked on the sets of Star Trek Beyond, the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Green Lantern and Alice Through the Looking Glass, was a clear choice.


And the Winners Are… On Sunday, Feb. 25, the fourth annual Hollywood Beauty Awards honored make-up artists, hairstylists and other creative artisans for their work in film, TV, music, red carpet and editorial projects. Held at the Avalon Hollywood theater, the event was presented by LATF USA. The awards benefited the Helen Woodward Animal Center.


Fans of genre film have probably seen Joel Harlow’s work, even if they didn’t realize it at the time. The longtime makeup designer and MorphologyFX founder got his start on horror films in the 1980s, including two of the Toxic Avenger films, and went on to multiple Oscar nominations (for The Lone Ranger and Star Trek Beyond) and one win (for 2009’s Star Trek). He’s worked with Johnny Depp on films from the Pirates of the Caribbean series to Alice In Wonderland to Tusk, and on superhero movies from 2000’s X-Men to Green Lantern to Logan. His work includes designing prosthetics and props — as he explained to The Verge in a 2017 interview about his extensive work on Logan, Morphology FX is an all-in-one effects shop that operates onsite at movie shoots.


“Black Panther” has received abundant praise, including for its wide-ranging, multi-dimensional female characters who get to drive the story and don’t just exist to motivate male characters. I echo all those sentiments about warrior Okoye (Danai Gurira), spy Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), scientist Shuri (Letitia Wright) and queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett). But I was just as excited as the end credits rolled to see that Marvel and director Ryan Coogler put their money where their mouth is by hiring women in prominent roles behind the scenes, and I don’t think it’s too early to highlight their accomplishments as worthy awards contenders for 2018.


Friday, 23 February 2018 15:44

Spotlight – Joel Harlow

To create cinematic illusions, you need conjurors. In this series of spotlight interviews, we ask movie magicians what makes them tick. Joel Harlow is a makeup and special effects makeup artist and designer with a career spanning decades. He created 56 unique alien species for Star Trek Beyond and has been Johnny Depp’s makeup artist for many years. Recent screen credits include the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ films, Hellboy (2019), The Lone Ranger, Logan, Black Mass and Black Panther.


People aren't just excited for Black Panther, which finally comes out on February 16, because it's a big-budget Marvel film with Michael B. Jordan's abs and Chadwick Boseman's charm. From the moment the trailer surfaced late last year, people of color of all ages took note of the kings, queens, and warriors of Wakanda (a fictional East African nation) that look just like us, with rich brown skin and textured hair.