“To a female superhero her sexiness is not the most important thing about her, it’s her mind, her spirit, and when I look at that character that to me is an example of characters that I like to play and I think it does a great thing for women.” Jessica Chastain
I was excited to watch Black Panther for many reasons. First and foremost, it was a superhero movie about an African king. There are few movies that are made on the black race and fewer on a black superhero in Hollywood. But what fascinated me more was the advanced technology of Wakanda and the group of female warriors known as Dora Milage led by Okoye.
Female fighters or superheroes aren’t given much space both in the DCU and MCU. I was glad to see that times are changing what with the forthcoming release of Captain Marvel next month.
It was fascinating to see that the Dora Milage group comprised only of women. Their costumes, stunts and serious acting were amazing. The costume designer Ruth E. Carter used inspiration from different African tribes such as the Maasai, Zulu and Suri. However, 80% of the design came from the Maasai tribe. The red colour of the costumes represented the different African cultures along with accessories such as neck rings. Also due to performance of stunts, the costumes had to be made like armour.
The Dora Milage first appeared in Black Panther #1 (November 1998) inspired from the Dahomey Amazons, the all-female military regiment of the Kingdom of Dahomey, which was located in West Africa in what is now the Republic of Benin. The kings of the kingdom started this group which gradually took responsibilities from hunting to serving as bodyguards to the king. They were well trained with survival skills and discipline.
In the film, the Dora Milage portrayed exactly the same duties as protectors of the king and the kingdom in general. Okoye, being the commander was with T’Challa in most of the scenes as his bodyguard.
Apart from this group, there were Nakia, T’Challa’s ex-lover and Shuri, his younger sister. Nakia was a spy doing an undercover assignment when T’Challa went to get her to attend his coronation ceremony. She helps T’Challa in his fight against Ulysses Klaue and Killmonger.
On the other hand, Shuri is more of a scientist than a fighter. Although she does join in the battle against Killmonger. With Wakanda’s advanced technology, she upgrades the Black Panther suit and invents advanced weapons.
On the whole this is just the beginning of a new era of female superheroes.
Garima Nabh is the founder of New Age Magazine.