If you’re like the majority of the movie going public, you saw Black Panther this past weekend (it is one of the highest grossing opening weekends ever, after all). And sure, I could do a review of it, but that’s what everyone else is doing – plus, you already know it’s a fantastic movie. What I want to talk about is female representation in the film and what Marvel has done right, where so many other movies have failed. (Don’t worry if you haven’t seen the movie, there aren’t any plot spoilers.)
It’s not just that the women in this movie are mentally and physically strong – they are honored and appreciated for it. They are treated as full equals to the men, sometimes even as betters. Consider the fact that Shuri, T’Challa’s 16 year old sister, created the majority of the technological advances in Wakanda and heads the country’s R&D department. And Nakia is a War Dog, which is essentially a secret police force comprised of elite spies and assassins. Even queen mother Ramonda is respected not simply for being the former queen, but for her strength as a mother and adviser.
Then there is the Dora Milaje, royal guard of the king, made up exclusively of highly trained female warriors recruited from the tribes of Wakanda. They protect, defend, fight when necessary and act as bodyguards for the royal family. The general, Okoye, is confidante to King T’Challa while also being the fiercest warrior in battle. In a sense, the Dora Milaje are the Marvel equivalent of Amazons – and I honestly don’t know who would win in that fight!
Black Panther has a lot to say about politics, social issues and African culture. But as a woman, I can’t even describe how satisfying it is to see this level of equal representation and inclusion on screen. This is an empowering movie for so many reasons and it is the message we need, especially now.