Who are the Dora Milaje?
and what are the 12 things you should NEVER ask them to avoid disembowelment
Part I: Who Are the Dora Milaje?
Those gorgeous, stoic, stone-faced members of Black Panther’s entourage? That daunting duo of towering, intimidating sentinels standing on either side of an already imposing Black Panther? The seriously-bothered-by-your-presence beauties who will absolutely perforate your gallbladder if you dare demand another selfie?
My friends, these regal she-warriors are the king’s unflappable bodyguards -- deferring to the proper Wakandan vernacular, they’re known as the “Dora Milaje” (dora-meh-LAH-shay).
Wait. What, exactly, does “Dora Milaje” mean?
Dora Milaje means “adored ones.” You see, the Dora Milaje were chosen from a pool of incredibly capable, incredibly intelligent women from rival Wakandan tribes -- they were presented as potential queens for an unmarried king. Not only did this ancient tradition offer the king a selection of high-quality mates, it also brought peace to Wakanda – every tribe, through their daughters, had the opportunity to gain a direct link to the crown.
Once the king selected two potential “mates,” they were regarded as “wives-in training” and immediately positioned as the Black Panther’s bodyguards. Receiving relentless training in innumerable fighting arts, granted access to sensitive information and materials, and bestowed continuous teachings from Wakanda’s renowned educators, the Dora Milaje became fiercely intelligent, fiercely loyal, and easily agitated protectors of their panther-themed patriarch.
Later, this tradition was deemed archaic and was eventually discontinued…. until recently (relatively recently). Yes, it seems there was tribal unrest regarding T’Challa’s relationship status (SINGLE), and those contentious neighboring tribes demanded the king take a wife. They were especially agitated because he almost married an “outsider” – the American singer Monica Lynne. Heck, the relationship was so serious, T’Challa actually brought her back to Wakanda.
Unfortunately, Lynne was used as a recurring component of supervillain revenge-plots, so T’Challa thought it best to end the engagement.
With tribal elders still demanding he accept a bride – specifically from one of the aforementioned tribes – T’Challa reinstated the Dora Milaje tradition and begrudgingly chose another pair of adored ones:
Yes, the king reinstated the tradition and chose his “brides,” but he considered it purely ceremonial. Although Okoye and Nakia were certainly beautiful, intelligent, and more than capable, he viewed these teenage girls as bodyguards and not wives-in-training.
Okoye understood the king’s wishes/perspective, but Nakia dreamed of winning the king’s affection. Something that didn’t help the situation at all – while suffering through a hallucinatory state instigated by the villain Mephisto, T’Challa was manipulated into kissing Nakia. Like, a full-on deep kiss from which one never truly recovers.
Ad yes, this kiss fueled the young Nakia’s dangerous obsession to such a degree, she once ejected Monica Lynne from an aircraft while they flew over a patch of war-torn Wakanda. Oh, my.
This crime resulted in her immediate exile, leading to an unfortunate meeting with dependable Black Panther detractor Achebe who immediately tortured her to death.
Later, she was discovered by Black Panther’s primary detractor Erik Killmonger, who took her lifeless, previously tortured-to-death body and resuscitated her utilizing the aptly named “Altar of Resurrection.” Upon resurrection, Nakia gained increased strength and flawless accuracy while maintaining her unhealthy T’Challa obsession.
Seeing the value in Nakia’s abilities, former allegiances, and increased co-dependence, he renamed her “Malice” and used her liberally in future revenge-plots.
So…’don’t fall in love with the king’ is apparently the moral of the story here.
Part II: The 12 Things You Should Never Ask Them to Avoid Disembowelment.
Reveling in the knowledge regarding the Black Panther’s stern and striking dedicated defenders? Good – let’s take that knowledge – let’s also call it a cautionary tale -- and apply it to real-world situations.
If you ever happen upon the Black Panther’s entourage led by the perpetually scowling “terror twins,” we suggest lowering your head (do NOT make eye contact!) , reversing course, and moving away very, very slowly.
If you’re a complete and utter moron with a sense of entitlement bordering on delusion, hell-bent on getting the king’s attention regardless of the cultural and political boundaries you’re taking a veritable dump on, I suggest refraining from the following questions. Seriously, if you ask one – or both – Dora Milage any of these questions – or something equally dangerous/buffoonish – you’re looking at an immediate beheading, or a slow, grueling gutting where they’ll wear your entrails like jewelry.
Anyway, about those questions you should NEVER ask them:
- Can you give the king my number? Don’t ever show romantic interest in the king. Ever. That’s a mortal throat-punch waiting to happen.
- Want to catch the latest Transformers flick? Don’t ever, EVER show romantic interest in a Dora Milaje. Ever. And asking them to a Transformers film guarantees a slow, painful death with copious amounts of drawing, quartering, and rampant cannibalism involving super-heated waffle irons.
- Do you ever smile? After stabbing you through the spleen, they will smile. A lot.
- Are you on Instagram? They don’t participate in social media. They will, however, introduce your phone to aggressive Wakandan malware that will – in addition to ruining your phone – turn your preferred “phone ear” blue.
- Do you hate your hair? They shave it because it takes HOURS to pick out all the teeth, eyeballs, and earlobes from recently exploded potential assassins.
- Could you help me find my phone/puppy/selfie stick? They will NEVER leave the King’s side. Also, the Dora Milaje sent that aggressive malware package to your phone, which was ingested by your dog, who happens to be carrying your selfie stick. And yes, the malware package just initiated a detonation sequence.
- How many walkers have you killed? Yes, one of them looks A LOT like The Walking Dead actress Danai Gurira. But, she is ABSOLTUELY NOT Walking Dead actress Danai Gurira. She will, however, saw off your jaw with the skill employed by Gurira’s character, Michonne.
- Oh, so the king’s a polygamist? He is not. If he so chooses, he will pick ONE of his fervently loyal adorned ones. Why is your head 15 feet from your body? Hmmm. Perhaps you overstepped.
- Does he ever, ya’ know, purr? Quoting Okoye: “Are you referring to the king’s post-coital exclamations? Is your silly western brain applying petty mortal behaviors to the divine king and avatar of the immortal Panther god?? You are TRULY the enemy of taste, tact, and intelligence.”
- Can I hold your spear? Yes, your recently speared body makes a great spear holder.
- Can I hold her spear? Yes, there is still plenty of space in your lungs for another full-length spear.
- Taylor Swift or Katie Perry? The Dora Milaje reside on the opposite end of candy-sprinkled idiocy. They appreciate actual music, including a host of Progressive Rock bands from the 70s and 80s, jazz-fusion outfits like Return to Forever, mild doses of Post Rock, and old-school rap like Kool Moe Dee.