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Report: Disney World’s Black Panther pin caught in skin-tone controversy (update)

‘They had a lot available,’ according to original reporter

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Chadwick Boseman holds out his arms in the Black Panther suit in Black Panther. Marvel Studios/Walt Disney

Update: This story has been revised throughout with additional information.

Social media users were in outrage Sunday afternoon, after a post suggested that the Pin Traders store in Disney World’s Spring Marketplace is selling a Black Panther pin that features T’Challa, the hero of the upcoming movie, wearing a black mask over a white face. However, additional photographs suggest that a camera flash may have lightened the skin tone in question.

The image that touched off the controversy was first reported by The Disney Pin Blog, a website dedicated to reporting on official Disney Parks pins, on Dec. 31, according to the site’s page. (Disney Pin Blog is not an official Disney website.) The tweet that caught everyone’s attention, however, was sent out earlier today.

The pin is described as an “open edition pin spotted at Walt Disney World featuring Marvel’s Black Panther,” selling for $12.99.

Ryan Mondics, owner and editor-in-chief of The Disney Pin Blog, told Polygon that the photo was taken by the website’s staff and uploaded by his team directly.

The pin is not available online as part of Disney’s official merchandise at this time. “We are getting lots of negative feedback,” Mondics told Polygon, of reaction to the pin’s appearance.

After reports of the photo being altered were brought up online, Polygon confirmed with Mondics that he did not use Photoshop or any image-editing software on it. It appears a flash was used to take the photo, making T’Challa’s underlying skin tone appear lighter.

Two photos taken by Mondics are below. The first was the one Mondics used in the blog; the second is without a flash.

The first photo, which Mondics used in his blog, appears to show Black Panther with a caucasian or light-skinned face.
Ryan Mondics
The second photo shows Black Panther with a lighter tone, but not outwardly caucasian.
Ryan Mondics

A similar image to the second one appeared on an eBay listing sent to Polygon. The skin tone, however, is notably darker than the images above.

eBay listing of the Black Panther pin.

On Twitter, some complained that the skin tone on the pin should be much darker and match that of both the character of T’Challa and the actor portraying him, Chadwick Boseman.

Asked if the pin was still on sale at Disney World, Mondics told Polygon that a large quantity was available for purchase. Polygon called the World Spring Marketplace pin store to inquire about the Black Panther pin, but got a message saying the office was closed.

“As of a couple of days ago it was still available at Pin Traders store at Disney Springs,” Mondics said. “They had a lot available.”

Polygon reached out to Disney for comment and verification that the pin is an authentic Disney item. We will update this story once more information becomes available.

Black Panther, Disney and Marvel Studios’ first big movie of 2018, will be released on Feb. 16.

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