Wakanda is a beautifully advanced nation and the core of its strength is not only vibranium, but the women who uphold it. From the Queen Mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) to the Dora Milaje, the women of Wakanda serve as the fictional utopia’s backbone. In terms of national pride, there is one particular woman who stands out: Okoye (Danai Gurira).
From the moment Okoye stepped onto frame, she exuded an unrelenting dominance that made it impossible to take your eyes off of her. First appearing in Black Panther Vol. 3 #1, Okoye is a member of T’Challa’s personal guard, the Dora Milaje and joins T’Challa’s wives-in-training, along with her friend Nakia. In the films, Okoye is the commanding leader of the Dora Milaje and ever-loyal to the kingdom she serves.
Once Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) defeats T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) in the ritual warrior battle, Killmonger snatches the Wakandan throne, much to the chagrin of most of its subjects. Rather than join Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) in the act of rebellion, Okoye remains firm in her duty to serve the Wakandan throne, no matter who’s sitting in it. Later on in the film, it’s revealed that T’Challa has been resuscitated, thus making it clear that the ritualistic warrior challenge is, indeed, not over. However, Killmonger refuses to continue with the challenge. Ever the traditionalist, Okoye relents and leads the Dora Milaje to take down Killmonger and to ultimately fight for her country.
Okoye’s lover, W’Kabi joins Killmonger’s agenda due to his own personal gripes with western civilization and things come to a head between the two lovers during the final civil battle in the 3rd act of the film. W’Kabi questions Okoye’s loyalty to him and she firmly informs him that her ultimate loyalty is to Wakanda… even at the expense of death.
There is an exoskeleton worth of layers within Okoye and it’ll take a solo film to fully begin to unpack them. “She can be serious, but she also has an unexpected sense of humor. She has a heart, but for her country and for her people,” said Gurira, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, in response to feedback regarding Okoye’s stoicism. There is more than enough reason to dissect Okoye’s background and what eventually led her to her unconditional attachment to the Wakandan throne. What makes Okoye tick?
Plus, the South Korea casino fight scene is pretty much an audition tape for an Okoye film. Beautifully scored with the introduction of the Dora Milaje theme, Okoye’s climax took the audience on a wild ride in an action sequence that arguably rivaled the film’s lead protagonist himself. Equipped with her vicious spear, Okoye’s is the epitome of badass, so much so that she managed to turn a wig into a weapon. Sounds like the makings of the lead character of an action film.
Okoye is a captivating treasure that is sure to engage audiences in each and every frame. Just as Okoye arrives into Wakanda declaring, “We are home,” an Okoye film is sure to delve deep into what home truly means.
Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright and Winston Duke, with Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis.
The film is directed by Ryan Coogler and produced by Kevin Feige with Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Nate Moore, Jeffrey Chernov and Stan Lee serving as executive producers. Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole wrote the screenplay.
Black Panther is in theaters now.