Fans of the MCU were given a brief glimpse of the poweful Wakandan Dora Milaje in Captain America: Civil War when Florence Kasumba’s Ayo crossed paths with Black Widow. While comic fans may have had a sense of who she was at the time, it’s clear that general audiences are going to get to know all about the “Adored Ones” when Black Panther hits theaters in February.
A central part of the mythology of the Black Panther, the Dora Milaje have served as both lovers and protectors for the Kings of Wakanda. In the upcoming film, they will play a central role and, as part of EW’s Comic-Con preview issue, we learned a lot more about the three women who will be closest to the King!
Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia, described as an “undercover operative” acting to “protect Wakanda’s interests and hunt its enemies” provides one of the more interesting character adaptations to date for Marvel Studios. In the comics, her role as one of the Dora Milaje and proximity to the King helped to foster an unhealthy obsession with him, one that caused her to take a villainous turn. While her future here is unclear, she and T’Challa do share a romance, one that her job often interrupts. Says Nyong’o of the character:
“She is a departure from what she was in the comic book. Nakia is a war dog. She is basically an undercover spy for Wakanda. Her job is to go out into the world and report back on what’s going on. In her journey in this film, she has to really choose between her passion for her calling and her passion for her king.“
We’ve seen Nakia wield some pretty crazy looking Vibranium weapons and their back story is pretty interesting. “We call them her ring blades,” says Marvel Studios producer Nate Moore. “The ones Lupita carries while in the green outfit are based on traditional African weaponry. However, she does get a hi-tech upgrade later in the film, compliments of Shuri.” The need for such upgrades probably comes with an interesting shift in Wakandan politics from villains both inside and out.
Another of the Dora Milaje who will serve as one of T’Challa’s Secret Service-esque bodyguards is Okoye, played by The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira. Okoye will work closely with Ayo, played by the returning Kasumba, and is the head of the unit, which Gurira describes:
“They are a very powerful force. They are not utopic, but what Wakanda has down well is it has allowed people to function within their strengths. These women, their strength is to preserve Wakanda. It’s more like the secret service in a sense that it’s not just military. She is head of intel.”
One of those closest to the King, Okoye also served his father, T’Chaka, whose death in Captain America: Civil War thrust T’Challa into the spotlight. While her role requires her to be fierce, she’s still processing the death of T’Chaka. “She can be serious,” says Gurira, “but she also has an unexpected sense of humor. She has a heart, but for her country and for her people. She’s not a person who doesn’t connect to human beings as a result of what she does.”
After that brief tease in Captain America: Civil War, it certainly sounds like we are going to see the full measure of the Dora Milaje when Black Panther hits screens February 16th!
Stay here for complete coverage of Black Panther leading up to SDCC ’17!