The women of the Black Panther cast nearly stole the show, but many fans are just learning that the female fighting force known as the Dora Milaje have a historical antecedent.
As some fans on Twitter have noted, the Dora Milaje appear to be inspired by the actual all-female fighting force known as the Dahomey Amazons. The army went by other names, including Mino, meaning “Our Mothers’ in the Fon language.
The Mino protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey, which was located in what is now the Republic of Benin. They were called the Dahomey Amazons by Greeks who encountered them because the Greeks were reminded of the female warriors from mythology, the same warriors that inspired the Amazons of Themyscira in Wonder Woman. The Mino were officially disbanded after the Kingdom of Dahomey was conquered and turned into a French Protectorate.
In the Marvel Comics universe, the Dora Milaje are the “Adored Ones,” wives-in-training for the Black Panther selected from among Wakanda’s several tribes. T’Challa uses the Dora Milaje as a means of keeping the peace between the tribes, and they serve as his royal bodyguards and assistants. He makes sure the “wives” part of the deal is entirely ceremonial, especially since the Dora are teenagers when they’re recruited.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Dora have been aged up and the “wives-in-training” angle dropped entirely, something executive producer Nate Moore discussed during a visit to the Black Panther set.
“That was part of the original Christopher Priest run where they were all sort of betrothed which, look, we felt like wasn't necessary to tell the story of the Dora, and in a way we all kind of rejected as being a little creepy,” Moore said. “So yeah, we will not be exploring that.”
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Black Panther is now in theaters. It will be followed by 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.