It seems like every day is just another day I’m waiting to watch Black Panther. As one of the many people who ran out to by my ticket already, and a junkie for all things Wakanda, I’m longing to get every single nugget of extra information about the film. Well, today Marvel released a featurette about the “Warriors of Wakanda,” A.K.A. the Dora Milaje.
Within in the comics, the Dora Milaje or “Adored Ones” first appeared in Black Panther Vol.3 #1 in 1993, and they are the royal bodyguards and “brides-in-training” who are trained in everything from martial arts to espionage. In-universe, the “Adored Ones” came from a tradition of the 18 Wakandan tribes submitting a potential wife for the king. Over time, and under kings like T’Challa, the idea of them being “brides-in-training” became more symbolic and they are instead trained to be warriors. They are usually the best, brightest and most furious of the tribe’s women. Their loyalty is both to the king and also to Wakanda itself.
Much like the Amazons in DC take inspiration from the mythical Greek Amazons, the inspiration for Dora Milaje can be found in the N’Nonmiton or Dahomey Amazons. The N’Nonmiton were a group of warrior women founded by King Agaja of Dahomey (present-day Republic of Benin) in the 18th century trained with muskets. Just like the Dora Milaje. they were considered “brides to the king” and were to remain chaste and refrain from having families.
They were a fierce fighting force that unnerved Westerners because they were ruthless, proficient in combat, and had an Africaness to them that startled the French who visited.
Their last enemies were full of praise for their courage. A French Foreign Legionnaire named Bern lauded them as “warrioresses… fight with extreme valor, always ahead of the other troops. They are outstandingly brave … well trained for combat and very disciplined.” A French Marine, Henri Morienval, thought them “remarkable for their courage and their ferocity… flung themselves on our bayonets with prodigious bravery.” (via Smithsonian)
I doubt the upcoming Black Panther movie will play up the “bride” aspect of the Dora Milaje or have them slitting the throats of their sleeping enemies, but I’m excited to see a group of warrior women being showcased. Not only are the costumes non-sexualized, but it is clear that these are women who have been trained not just as fighters, but as intellectuals.
I’m glad that 2017 and 2018 are going to give us back to back depictions of non-sexualized female warriors with armor that works as armor. February can’t come soon enough!
As they say in the video Wakanda Forever!
(via Youtube, image:Screengrab )
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