As the leader of Wakanda’s security and intelligence outfit in Black Panther, Danai Gurira’s Okoye is an extremely busy woman. While each Marvel movie has to set up its world, conceit, and cast of characters, films like Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy have had considerably more work to do as they’re not solely based on Earth. While Black Panther will take place entirely on our planet, everything from the trailer to the official Black Panther images make it clear: the world of Wakanda will be like nothing audiences have seen onscreen before.
Though Black Panther is still over half a year away, the past few days have seen a flurry of updates in regards to the movie’s various characters. We’ve learned how T’Challa will deal with the death of his father during Captain America: Civil War and how it will shape him as a ruler. It was also revealed that while Erik Killmonger will be a major threat, Klaue is the main villain of Black Panther. Now, we have a bit more insight into the Dora Milaje and their leader.
EW spoke with Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead) about her character Okoye, the leader of the Wakandan king’s dedicated personal guard, in the film. On the subject, Gurira said:
“She is an extremely proud Wakandan. She’s very proud of her people, her country, and her heritage. She is a traditionalist. She is rooted in what is, what has been done, how we do things as Wakandans. How we have done things, and how that must be preserved.”
Part elite warriors, part Secret Service, the Dora Milaje are some of the most prolific combatants in Wakanda. Still, they can make mistakes. Just as T’Challa will be dealing with the fallout from his father’s death, Okoye and the Dora Milaje will have to grapple with failing to protect their king:
“Being the head of the Dora Milaje and losing a monarch in somewhat of a security breech situation is not something that sits well in her soul. The desire to make sure that never happens again is something very intrinsic to who she is.”
As the leader of the Dora Milaje, Okoye will certainly blame herself. Hopefully, Black Panther also delves into the feelings of Ayo as she was actually on hand during the events of Civil War. Between the Dora Milaje and T’Challa’s sister Shuri and step-mother Ramonda, Black Panther will offer just as many powerful female figures as male ones. As such, Wakanda will show us a society that’s much more matriarchal than we’re used to seeing in superhero films or even the real-world:
“They are not utopic, but what Wakanda has down well is it has honored people by allowing them to function within their strengths. These women are functioning within their strengths. Their strength is to preserve Wakanda in a Special Forces-type way. It’s more like a Secret Service in a sense that it’s also very much about intel. It’s not just military. [Okoye] is head of intel. [Laughs] She is a busy woman.”
Between the African setting, Wakanda’s hybrid of traditional and futuristic design and tech, and the many powerful female characters, Black Panther looks to be unlike any blockbuster in recent memory.
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