The Women of 'Black Panther' Are the Real MVPs

Wakandan women are a force to be reckoned with.

The Women of 'Black Panther' Are the Real MVPs
Disney/Marvel Studios via Chicago Tribune

*** This goes without saying, but there are spoilers for Black Panther ahead. Proceed at your own risk. ***

I’m a total sucker for superhero movies. As such, I wasn’t sure where to begin with Black Panther. There’s so much to take away from this smash blockbuster hit, including the undeniable success it was for black representation in Hollywood, along with its pushing forward a whole new breed of superhero movie. My first thought, however? Man, I wish the colorful, peaceful (albeit isolationist), and uber-technologically advanced world of Wakanda was a real place. Imagine what 2018 could do with vibranium: Elon Musk would have a literal field day.

Most importantly, though, I question why on earth –– or any of the other dimensions in the Marvel universe –– Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) isn’t the one in charge here. Sure, we get it, the Black Panther lives and all, but the women were the real MVPs of Wakanda, and we’re here to tell you why.

Wakanda Forever ✊

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First off, Nakia may not be the ruler Wakanda asked for, but she is the ruler Wakanda deserves.  

And save her country she did, like she courageously saves young girls from the sex trade in the beginning of the film. Nakia also constantly vies the king for a less isolationist policy in order to help the rest of the world. Her unique pathos, strength of character, and desire to help people (even non-Wakandans), sets her apart from the rest of the tribe at times, although she admirably stays true to herself regardless. It's her outspokenness that makes us fall head-over-heels for her, in much the same way T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) does.

Oh, and there’s also the little fact that Nakia actually saves T’Challa’s ass. (Queen Mother Ramonda and Shuri also get honorary mentions for this one.) Let’s not forget that without Nakia’s thievery of the glowing heart-shaped herb, the Wakandan king would have been lost to the spirit world. Maybe she should have taken his place in the ritual waterfall trial-by-combat instead? Just a thought.

Next, Princess Shuri is actually everything.

The Women of 'Black Panther' Are the Real MVPs

The Wakandan princess absolutely steals the show with her razor-sharp wit and pithy sense of humor. In fact, fans are even calling for her to get her own standalone film, and we’re in full agreement. Without Shuri’s innovative genius, the remote hologram technology Everett uses to take down Killmonger’s weapons of mass vibranium would not have existed.

Boom. Game changer.

Also, the heart-racing scene in which Shuri takes the wheel to ferry T’Challa around in his black-suit-clad pursuit of Klaue is nothing short of mental. Fast and the Furious, much?

Even more importantly, Shuri is a scientist –– not just a bored Disney princess waiting around for Prince Charming –– making her a prominent role model for all women of all ages. Actress Letitia Wright told Vogue, “I hope it can spark someone to say, ‘I’m not a superhero, but I can be a scientist or build the next spaceship, like Shuri.’” Is it cold in here? Because we just got full-body chills.

But all-in-all, General Okoye is our absolute favorite.

The Women of 'Black Panther' Are the Real MVPs

Not only is she an unstoppable warrior, but General Okoye (Danai Gurira) is the fearless leader of the Dora Milaje, or the ferocious all-female guard which helps to protect T’Challa’s throne. Of course, this already gives her bragging rights. But the above-pictured "wig snatch" scene, in which she and Nakia join T’Challa in a Korean casino to kick ass, take names, and –– in Okoye’s case, throw her weave into an enemy’s face while preparing to wield her spear –– proves Okoye can handle her own. There’s that whole spear twirling thing too.

Plus, the climactic scene in which Okoye chooses her love for her country over “her love” Border Tribe leader W’kabi? Utterly chilling in its unapologetic fierceness, and an unforeseen moment which we approved wholeheartedly. (And you know everyone agrees when the theater breaks out into applause.)

Her actions cemented the foundation the film laid for an inspiring amount of emotional depth and range of female characters and their storylines on screen.

The women of Wakanda forever.