‘Black Panther’ Director Wants a ‘Women of Wakanda’ Spin-Off Movie

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.

This Badass Woman in “Civil War” Didn’t Get a Name — But We Know Who She Is

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…”

Dora Milaje
Black Panther and the Dora Milaje prepare to battle Dr. Doom

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.

Dora Milajae in Captain America: Civil War
Dora Milajae in Captain America: Civil War

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.