'Black Panther' Costume Designer on the Upgrades to the Dora Milaje

In addition to some fundamental changes in the way the Dora Milaje's story is presented when Black [...]

In addition to some fundamental changes in the way the Dora Milaje's story is presented when Black Panther comes to the big screen next month, there are some alterations to their look, bringing the characters more in line with the film's contemporary feel and with the updated mythology of the group.

In the Marvel Comics universe, the Dora Milaje are Black Panther's "wives-in-training." They serve as his royal bodyguards and assistants. T'Challa insists that his betrothal to these girls be only ceremonial, something to keep the peace between the Wakandan tribes. Still, these girls were teenagers when they were introduced in the comics, an idea that has not aged well. Producers have said that the "betrothal" elements will be jettisoned for the film, and the movie's costume designer told us that their look will be updated as well.

"With regards to the Dora Milaje, we wanted to make them have more of a presence. More of a strength of authority that they did have. They were bad-ass chicks," costume designer Ruth Carter explained. "They were protecting the king. And two, T'Challa being the Black Panther -- is walking around in this skin suit. We didn't want the guy in the skin suit walking around with the girls in the bathing suits."

"We developed it more as a real warrior might be developed," she added. "Real warriors who need their arms protected and need to have shields and armor and weaponry and shoes - like they're really gonna go to battle."

Besides the philosophical and political aspects or reinventing the Dora Milaje, there was a more practical element to consider as well, according to Carter.

"The costumes don't really work in the way that real clothes do," she conceded. "The Dora Milaje are walking in the middle of the road with a sarong and a tube top, tattoos. I mean, they look really great. Mohawk and great little, tiny sunglasses. We know that in the stunt world that kind of costume is just not gonna work."

During a visit to the Black Panther set, executive producer Nate Moore stated that the Dora Milaje –- specifically Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) –- will play a large role in the movie.

"They're a big part of the movie," Moore said. "They're a big part of the movie. As you guys know, Danai Gurira plays Okoye who, in our world, is the head of the Dora, and a pivotal character in the movie. Exploring how they work, their role in Wakanda and their relationship with the king is a big part of the storytelling."

Black Panther currently has a ComicBook.com User Anticipation Rating of 4.17 out of 5, making it the second most anticipated upcoming comic book movie among ComicBook.com Users. Let us know how excited you are for Black Panther by giving the movie your own ComicBook.com User Anticipation Rating below.

Black Panther opens in theaters on February 16th.

Other upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movies include Avengers: Infinity War on May 4th, Ant-Man and the Wasp on July 6th, Captain Marvel on March 8, 2019, the fourth Avengers movie on May 3, 2019, the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 5, 2019, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2020.