Midway through Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa, King of Wakanda, heads to his car, ready to embark on a mission of vengeance as the Black Panther against the Winter Soldier, whom he believes killed his father. Sensing the conflict to come, the Black Widow attempts to intercept him, positioning herself between T’Challa and the door. Then an imposing bald woman who was with T’Challa steps to the foreground and says one line:
Move or be moved.
The way she held herself and delivered that single line of dialog conveyed to the audience that this is a woman who believes she can best the Black Widow in a fight. T’Challa evidently agrees, but defuses the situation with a simple, “As entertaining as that would be…”
So who is this badass woman who can compete with Marvel’s best? Although it is not explicitly stated, there is almost no doubt that she is a member of the Dora Milaje (dora-meh-LAH-shay), the King of Wakanda’s personal bodyguards and some of the most deadly fighters on the planet.
In Wakandan tradition, the Dora Milaje are also a pool of potential brides for an unmarried king. Each tribe of Wakanda puts forth their best representative so that all tribes have an interest in maintaining the peace as one of their own is in running for the crown. In current comics, T’Challa has announced that his bride will no longer be selected in such an arbitrary fashion.
The Dora Milaje are also featured prominently in the first few issues of Ta-Nehisi Coates run on the rebooted Black Panther comic book, and their role in Wakanda society is slowly being fleshed out with complexities that make them far more than a fantasy for adolescent boys.
With the Black Panther movie on the way there is no doubt in my mind that we have not seen the last of the Dora Milaje, and based on first impressions — that’s a very good thing.