With every addition to Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the audience is exposed to new areas that pay homage to the original comics while still bringing in new ideas. For The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, costume designer Michael Crow was tasked with crafting the look for one such area, Madripoor. Although Madripoor is an island located in southeast Asia, the style and culture have more than just Asian influences. “The general idea was to create something that didn’t have a specific time or a specific place to it,” says Crow.
Taking place after the events of Avengers: Endgame, the governments of the world are poorly handling the return of half the population, leading to the rise of a radical group of super-soldier terrorists called the Flag-Smashers. With Captain America gone, Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) need to team up and travel the world to stop them. Along the way, they get help from former enemy Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl), who leads them to the new lawless nation of Madripoor.
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The color palette of a new area is a subtle, but important, way of showing the audience what kind of area they are entering. “We talked about Madripoor as being a little bit of an oil slick,” says Crow, “so it was dark and grimy. So, greens, browns, dark blues, grays, and darker purples. We gave it that greasy grimy feel, but it had that oil slick kind of vibe to it.”
These colors were more prevalent in Lowtown, the first area of Madripoor they visit. “We researched different gangs, mafias, and criminal groups around the world, internationally, to incorporate some of that into our world,” Crow says. “We extrapolated that into Hightown, along with some more fashion research.”
Madripoor is split into two areas, Hightown and Lowtown. While Lowtown is where most of the gangs and criminal groups are located, Hightown serves as the location for the richer, upper-class criminals. “For Hightown, I think the research was probably a little less specific,” he says.
While keeping with the “oil slick vibe,” Hightown still needed to represent a richer class of people. “As much as we wanted to elevate the fashion, we also wanted make it feel a little seedy and have a little bit of a dark undertone,” says Crow. “These people definitely have money and are dripping in diamonds, but there’s also a taste level that is a little less refined.”