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But why did AGI have that big black command line bar to begin with?

Because the original didn’t have popup windows:

By then the picture format and all that was pretty much set or something like that. With SCI, they could do it all from scratch, using their AGI experience as merely a guideline, and images could go up to 320×190.

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Mono modes had an underline attribute. Great for text.
CGA/EGA text modes both had colors. Please excuse the off-color brown.
VGA was much the same but allowed trading the blink attribute for bright backgrounds.
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