Wakanda
Black Panther, Shuri, 2018; Marvel Entertainment.

Spotlight: “The Queens of Wakanda” From Black Panther

Black Panther. The film of all films released this past week; we were not ready for Black Panther. So many great things about the film and so much to be hype about. From the OST to Wakanda to the prevalent themes throughout the film. We deserve to be hyped about this movie.

However, as much as I love Black Panther and T’Challa – can we talk about the Queens of Wakanda for a second? From Nakia to Shuri, the Queens of Wakanda are what made this film so compelling. They were empowering, magnificent, and radiant.

But, who are they? Let’s talk a little bit about the Queens of Wakanda from Black Panther.

Nakia, The Queen of Q’Noma Valley

Again, Nakia has a different comic origin than the film, but we will tackle both. Nakia, another Queen of Wakanda and a star. Although she comes in shortly after Okoye in the film, she is proved to be loyal and in love with the king himself, T’Challa.

Nakia is disappointed by the fact that Wakanda is not helping other countries or cities like she knows they should be. Regardless, she agrees with the way the king does his job; she is still loyal to T’Challa and Wakanda. Lupita Nyong’o plays Nakia.

Comics Origin

Nakia, from Q’Noma Valley, was trained to be an “adored one.” Another order of women trained such as the Dora Milaje. They are served as concomitants or wives-in-training for the King of Wakanda. The order of the Dora Milaje was authorized to encourage harmony between Wakanda’s many rival tribal factions.

Nakia also serves as one of Wakanda’s deadliest bodyguards. She is also the utmost faithful to the King of Wakanda. She is considered to be one of the most trusted servants to the King. By the age of fourteen, she was treated like royalty.

Throughout the comics, she is seen as obsessed with the King, Black Panther. She openly states that she wants to marry him. She tried to kill his former girlfriend, drown herself to get mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and went through other means to get his attention.

However, despite her unfortunate comics origin she is seen as having increased levels of strength, speed, and accuracy due to a magical ritual. Nakia is superhuman and exceeds in hand-to-hand combat. What a badass!

Recommended Reading

Like, Okoye, she appears in Black Panther Volume 3, 1998. She appears in 33 issues total.

Film Origin

Nakia, in the film, however, is a little bit different. She is a Wakandan spy and T’Challa’s former lover. In the film, they are exes/current partners. This is different from the comics. Nakia is a member of War Dogs, and she is often sent on missions around the world.

We first meet her when T’Challa and Okoye are rescuing her. While not much is known about her in the film because watchers only get a glimpse into her past – she is a badass nonetheless. It doesn’t seem like she was in the Milaje at all in the film, but she might have been before the film began.

Nakia can also use the Kimoyo Beads and possess Ring Blades as well. She knows martial arts extensively and is an expert spy in Black Panther. Again, Nakia proves that she is, without a doubt, the Queen of Wakanda.

The Queen Okoye of the Dora Milaje

One of the most dominant characters in the film. Without a doubt one of the strongest characters amongst such a strong cast of queens. Okoye’s storyline in the film, though, is a bit different from the comics. Okoye’s origin doesn’t derive too far from the comics, but in some aspects, it does differ. In order for her ability to be rightfully Queen of Wakanda, we will talk about both origins.

Comics Origin

In the comics, however, Okoye was in the Dora Milaje, she was an order of in-training wives for the King of Wakanda. However, she also serves as his personal valet and bodyguard as well. Each member of the Milaje was chosen from a different tribe of the Wakandas.

This was a political tradition to ensure peace among the tribes; because each held a role in the palace and a chance to become the next queen. Okoye made her first appearance in 1998 with Black Panther Volume 3.

Recommended Reading

Okoye is in an LGBTQIA+ relationship in the comics and appears in 29 issues. If you want to begin, I would start with the first every issue Okoye shows up in which is the 1998 volume.

Film Origin

In the film, Okoye represents the general of the Milaje; played by Danai Gurira. She is also the head of Wakanda’s intel and armed forces. Deservingly so. Witnessing what she does, she decides to help T’Challa find Klaue. Okoye, in the film, was left with a choice – to protect T’Challa (even though they thought him to be dead) or to protect Killmonger.

Unfortunately, she chose to protect Killmonger until Black Panther rose again. Okoye is loyal to T’Challa and Wakanda and will not let anyone prove otherwise. In the film, she is in a relationship with W’Kabi, but that comes to an end when he turns into her enemy.

She handles a spear and is badass with it. Okoye also is able to have Kimoyo Beads, which only certain personnel have in Wakanda. She is trained in various forms of combat and knows martial arts – since she is the general, she has years of training.

Okoye speaks fluent Xhosa and English. The fight scenes are astonishing with Okoye, and she truly is a loyal Queen of Wakanda and to T’Challa, her king.

The Heiress to the Throne, Shuri

Shuri is one of my favorite characters of all time in Black Panther. She represents a smart, intelligent, African/Black/African-American woman throughout the film. And, I could not have been happier with the actress they chose to play Shuri; played by Letitia Wright.

Comics Origin

Shuri is the heiress to the throne of Wakanda, being Black Panther’s sister. She is the youngest child of T’Chaka. Not only is she the youngest child, but she is also the only daughter and biological child of Queen Ramonda. From a young age, Shuri wanted to become the first female Black Panther.

Against her mother’s wishes, she went on the challenge her Uncle S’yan for the title of Black Panther. Unfortunately, she was unable to reach the ring before another fighter killed S’yan and claimed the title. When he was unmasked, it was revealed it was T’Challa underneath.

Over time, Shuri has fought in combat and has killed once. Throughout the comics, she has an adventure with life and death (that you will just have to read about). Shuri proves that she is still truly a badass in the comics just as much as she was in the film.

Recommended Reading

Shuri’s first appearance was in Black Panther Vol 4 #2, 2005. She has also appeared in Black Panther Vol 5 #5 as Black Panther in 2009.

She has appeared in 213 issues since her first appearance.

Film Origin

Shuri, the Princess of Wakanda and the mastermind behind all of the tech made for Wakanda. She is the leader of the Wakandan Design Group. Shuri could be seen as an innovator, a wizard with tech, and an able mind. Shuri is the designer for the Black Panther suit(s) throughout the film even Killmongers as well (by accident).

After the death of her father, T’Chaka, she was assigned to delete Bucky Barnes HYDRA programming from his mind. This was after Civil War and after Black Panther (Post Credit Scene). Shuri retains genius-level intellect, as she is one of the smartest people in the world as far as engineering and technology go.

Shuri is often connected to Tony Stark because of her ability to create anything and everything perfectly. However, I think she’s even better than Stark. She invented the Kimoyo Beads, Remote Control Disks, and Vibranium Gauntlets.

The Queen Mother, Ramonda

Also known as Queen Mother, Ramonda is the mother of Shuri and T’Challa. The only biological daughter she has is Shuri; she is the third wife of T’Chaka. However, she is the surrogate mother of T’Challa and Hunter. Played by Angela Bassett, the wonderful and great, Angela Bassett.

Comics Origin

Queen Mother is the former queen of Wakanda. She is initially from South Africa and left Wakanda abruptly. T’Challa believed it to be because it was another man, but a white protestor, Anton Pretorius, kidnaped her.

Pretorius, sadly, sexually abused her for years and knocked her off the grid. After T’Challa found out, he rescued her and welcomed her back home. Queen Mother had a run in with a terrorist attack and suffered. She was in a coma and broke her legs. Eventually, she recovered and is able to walk with a cane.

Recommended Reading

Queen Mother appears in 81 issues throughout Black Panther. In 1989 she appeared in her first issue, Marvel Comics Presents #14.

Film Origin

In the film, she is Ramonda, the mother of T’Challa. T’Challa refers to her as his mother, and we don’t get any glimpse of it being otherwise. Not much is know about Ramonda herself, but we know she will stand for Wakanda no matter what.

She is loyal to T’Chaka and T’Challa both. Queen Mother obtains Kimoyo Beads, which she is able to use to communicate. If anything, Ramonda is the head Queen of Wakanda. All hail the Queen!

The Rebellious, Ayo

Ayo who will appear in Infinity War is in the Dora Milaje. Her comics origin is dense, compared to the other characters that appeared in both the film and the comics.

Another one being Shuri. However, Ayo is someone to look out for next time you watch the film. She is one badass character played by Florence Kasumba.

Comics Origin

We meet Ayo in the comics pleading for her dear friend, Aneka to Queen Mother. As she was doing so, Queen Mother upheld the sentence and sent her back to a prison cell. Ayo was upset about this and decided to save Aneka herself.

She used a prototype of the Midnight Angel Armor and attacked the prison. They were both allowed to escape. However, they ultimately decided they would no longer be in the Milaje. Ayo then went on to be a vigilante outside of the Wakanda border with Aneka.

Eventually, Ayo and Aneka made a clan similar to the Milaje, The Midnight Angels. She goes on to be with this gang, and that leads to her where she is now. Since Ayo’s stint barely began in 2016, not much is included in her backstory from the comics.

Recommended Reading

Her first appearance is in 2016, Ultimates Vol 2 #1.

Film Origin

Ayo is head of security and a member of the Milaje. Ayo escorted T’Challa to his car when he learned that the Winter Soldier has escaped from Joint Counter-Terrorist Centre Building. Natasha stops them and wishes to speak to T’Challa. Ayo didn’t allow that and told her to move out of the way.

In the film, she is apart of the Milaje and can use a spear badassly. However, we don’t get too-too much to her depth; we know she will be in Infinity War regardless. She is seen as a bodyguard mostly to T’Challa.

A Deserving Spotlight on the Queens of Wakanda!

Everyone has their own opinions of Black Panther. Whether you liked it or not – you have to admit the female characters were too badass to not pay attention to. One of the many pros I have about this film is the female characters.

They are made to be empowering, compelling, and memorable. I did not forget one of these Queens of Wakanda mentioned here. They stood out even more so then T’Challa/Black Panther did. If I had a movie with just these insanely fantastic female leads, I would watch it ten times in a row.

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