In this second episode of The Heroic Girls Podcast, John, Ayana and Gerine tackle black representation in pop culture. Topics include Black Panther, Luke Cage, Storm and the Watchmen --…
Ryan Coogler thinks a movie centered around the female heroes of Wakanda would be “amazing.”
Critics and audiences alike praised the strong women that surrounded King T’Challa in the box office smash Black Panther. Many people noted the female characters of Wakanda were incredibly well-developed and interesting, and were far from arm-candy or background characters. They were integral to the plot. Director Ryan Coogler is among those who share that view.
According to Variety. at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday, when asked by film critic Elvis Mitchell if the women of Black Panther were as important as the men, Coogler quickly fired back, “I think you could argue they are more important.”
In fact, count Coogler among those who think the women of Wakanda could carry a movie all on their own. “There’s a whole section of the film where T’Challa is out of the movie and you’re just following the women,” Coogler continued “That’s one of my favorite parts of the movie when I watched it, and I didn’t expect that.”
“That part of the movie you feel like you’re watching something fresh and new,” he said. “That part of it was exciting. We have these actresses who could easily carry their own movie,” he said,
Well, would he actually direct a Black Panther spin-off featuring the Women of Wakanda? “Oh man,” Coogler said. “That would be amazing if the opportunity came up. They did it in the comic-book version.”
One possibility to do just that presented itself in the aftermath of this summer’s Avengers: Infinity War. (Spoiler ahead) At the end of the movie, T’Challa dies as Thanos kills half of all beings in the universe with a snap of his fingers.
In the comics, when T’Challa died, his sister Shuri — played by Letitia Wright in the movie — became the new Black Panther. While the movie version of the character is less physical and more tech-based, I think it is easy to imagine Shuri picking up the mantle and becoming some version of the Wakandan hero in her brother’s stead.
Another path would be to make a movie based on the Women of Wakanda comic, which is centered on the exploits of the king’s special forces squad, the all-female Dora Milaje.
This is all hope and speculation at this point, Marvel is being incredibly tight-lipped about what we might expect from their “Phase 4” movie slate. But more and more, people are talking about how great a movie focused on these incredible female characters would be.
And Marvel is listening.
Black Panther: Hail to the King will be a Comixology exclusive starting in December.
We’ve been pretty bummed as the fantastic Black Panther stories written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxanne Gay have come to an end this year, but Marvel is determined not to give us too long of a mourning period. According to the Nerdist, Marvel has hired World Fantasy-, Hugo- and Nebula Award-winning novelist Nnedi Okorafor to write a new series, Black Panther: Hail to the King.
With art and colors by Andre Araujo and Chris O’Halloran Black Panther: Long Live the King will be a biweekly comiXology exclusive, released in December on comiXology and Kindle as part of the comiXology Originals line of exclusive digital content, which is also available to members through the popular comiXology Unlimited. This story will take place in the expansive world of Wakanda that Coates has built up in his ongoing series, and will follow T’Challa as he desperately tries to defend his home from a terrifying new threat.
Okorafor got her comics try out in last month’s Edge of the Venomverse: War Stories #1, where she introduced Ngozi, a paralyzed teenaged Nigerian “Chibok Girl” who comes into contact with a Venom symbiote and discovers she can walk again.The Chibok girls were 220 schoolgirls abducted by the militant group Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria in 2014.
Earlier this summer, Marvel announced that feminist writer Roxane Gay will team up with poet Yona Harvey to write World of Wakanda, a spin-off of Ta-Nahisi Coates’ Black Panther.
The series revolves around ‘Dora Milaje’ warriors Ayo and Aneka, who rebel together and fall in love. Gay, a best-selling author known for works such as Bad Feminist, An Untamed State and Hunger, is Marvel’s first black female lead writer. An acclaimed writer, Gay was kind enough to share some insights with Heroic Girls about transitioning from feminist novels to the world of comics and superheroes.
Heroic Girls: Ta-Nahisi Coates told The New York Times that he recruited you and Yona Harvey personally to write Ayo and Aneka in an effort to “have diversity both on the page and on the payroll.” With Coates’ backing in the Marvel world, how much creative freedom are you given with these already established characters in the Wakandan universe?
Roxane Gay: Yona is actually writing a comic based on the character Zenzi, while I am writing Ayo and Aneka. I have been given pretty much all the creative freedom to write these characters and their story. The primary constraint is keeping in line with Marvel continuity which is a new writing challenge for me — but nothing that affects what I am trying to do with these women.
HG: Comics are a very collaborative medium compared to novels. How has it been working with so many people on a creative project?
RG: The most challenging part is keeping track of all the moving parts. There is my writing and the artist and the letterer and the colorist and my editors and the continuity and it’s overwhelming to be in the middle of it all. Deadlines have new meaning, that’s for sure.
HG: As a champion for representation and inclusiveness in terms of feminism, how do you plan on incorporating this mission into the story and characters?
RG: I don’t have a specific plan for that. My feminism is as much a part of who I am and my writing so it will be a part of how I write the story. If I do my job well, you will see it without being overwhelmed by it.
HG: Which comics would you say are your biggest influences as you write this story?
RG: I am new fan of comics so I don’t have any influences yet. I have enjoyed the Saga series very much and certainly, I take a lot of guidance from Ta-Nehisi’s Black Panther run. Most of my influence comes from my favorite books.
HG: You’ve got a few months of experience working on comics under your belt now. If you could create your own comic, what would the hero be like?
RG: Heh, more like a few weeks. I just turned in my first script and am now working on the second. My hero would be a woman who is crafty and dark and full of heart if you know her well enough. She would be able to fly and wouldn’t wear a costume. She’d be someone I’d want to be friends or lovers with, I’m not quite sure which.
World of Wakanda is set to release this November. You can find Roxane Gay on Twitter @rgay.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave) is in talks to join the upcoming Black Panther helmed and written by Creed director Ryan Coogler. Nyong’o would join Chadwick Boseman, who premiered the titular character in this summer’s Captain America: Civil War.
Nyong’o would reportedly play the love interest in the film. It’s unknown whether the love interest will be an established character from the comics or a new character developed for the film. While T’Challa has had different love interests, his most prominent partner is Storm from the X-Men, who was his wife for a significant period of time. That can’t happen in the MCU because 20th Century Fox still owns the film rights to the character. So N’yong’o’s possible role is a mystery.
Black Panther hits theaters on Feb. 2, 2018.
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.
Marvel Studios launched "Phase 3" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe today at a special event at the El Capitan theater in Los Angeles. Even guest appearances by Avengers architect Joss…