Women of Wakanda
This weekend, tons of people were introduced to the rich world of Black Panther on screen. Characters were brought to life and brought a new kind of storytelling to Marvel film-making. T’Challa, Erik Killmonger, and the other men of their world were indeed interesting all on their own but not quite as captivating as the women in the story.
From her brief appearance in Captain America: Civil War, Okoye, (Danai Gurira), asserts that she isn’t one to fuck around with. Her facial expressions and even her aura from the very beginning of Black Panther immediately tell the audience she’s still about her business; protecting T’Challa. The rightful leader of the Dora Milaje, Okoye’s loyalty to the King of Wakanda doesn’t waver as she leads T’Challa where he needs to be and even goes undercover with him in a battle that eventually leads her to throw off her wig.
She is not opposed to using her skills as a warrior on command and she even has a comic book spinoff in which she is a protagonist alongside Ayo, (titled World of Wakanda but more on that in LGBT Erasure). She and the Dora Milaje she commands are a crucial element to the film and Black Panther lore in general.
Another woman in the film that’s interesting is Nakia, (Lupita Nyong’o), the Wakandan spy who is both T’Challa’s ex and current love interest in the movie. Nakia brings a more empathetic approach to social climates of other parts of the world as she hopes to peacefully tear away Wakanda’s deep need for isolation. Her mindset isn’t actually too far off from Erik Killmonger, however, she’d much rather achieve her goals without hurting anyone if she can help it. Loyal to her cause and yet still loyal to T’Challa, Nakia is a character needed to help him understand the need for change in the future.
A fan favorite and new Disney Princess, Shuri, (Letitia Wright), is one of the most important characters in the movie. Her vast knowledge of the various uses of vibranium, Shuri proves to be a formidable and intelligent foe to enemies. Her advanced technological creations range from T’Challa’s sleek superhero suit that absorbs kinetic energy that can be released later to controlling vehicles and aircraft from distant locations. Shuri is no average Princess by any means and is armed with the sharp wit to match her intelligence.
I know if the lightweight “white savior” Everett Ross, (Martin Freeman), wasn’t in Black Panther we still would have received an amazing film but without these women, this film would have severely lacked some fun. Black Panther depicts Black women as far more than hypersexualized damsels in distress waiting for men to save them; They’re in Wakanda doing saving and defending. The women of Wakanda make Black Panther worth a second, (perhaps even a third), viewing.