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As Marvel Studios’ highly anticipated film Black Panther prepares to hit theaters, now is the perfect time to get to know the butt-kicking women of the film. The Dora Milaje, created by Christopher Priest and Mark Texeira, are a team of women who serve as special forces for the nation of Wakanda. In addition to promoting harmony between Wakanda’s rival tribe factions, they also serve as the King’s deadliest bodyguards. These fierce warriors, whose name means “adored ones,” made their first appearance in Black Panther Vol. 3 #1 in 1998. 

Over the years, the Dora Milaje has included many key members, such as former leader Aneka, who was stripped of her rank after killing a chieftain who had been victimizing women. She later went on to become part of a vigilante duo alongside another former Dora Milaje, Ayo. Using a pair of prototype armored suits this duo became known as the Midnight Angels. J’Kuwali tribe member, Okoye, acted as a traditional, proper concomitant to the king, speaking only to the king and only in Hausa. Nakia, a Wakandan Mutate with superhuman strength, speed, and agility, served as a Dora Milaje for the Black Panther T’Challa. Another Dora Milaje for T’Challa, Divine Justice was the street-smart queen of the Jabari tribe. 

During a storyline in which T’Challa declined to join the Cabal, Dr. Doom launched a sneak attack against him and his Dora Milaje. After two Dora’s sacrificed their own lives to save T’Challa, he repurposed the Dora Milaje into his own private armed force. The events of this battle led into Doomwar, in which 500 Dora’s led by Mistress Aneka helped T’Challa battle the combined forces of Doom and the rebellious Desturi. After some intense fighting, the Dora Milaje were able to defeat the Desturi and help liberate Wakanda. The Dora Milaje were then separated into groups and scattered around the world in order to retrieve the vibranium that Dr. Doom had stolen. 

Outside of comics, Okoye, Nakia, and Divine Justice of the Dora Milaje appeared in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, while Ankea of the Dora Milaje appeared in Avengers: Ultron Revolution. Ayo, portrayed by Florence Kasumba, recently made her cinematic debut in Captain America: Civil War. Kasumba will reprise her role in Black Panther, alongside additional Dora Milaje’s Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), Okoye (Danai Gurira), and Xoliswa (Sydelle Noel). 

Arriving February 16, 2018, Black Panther also stars Chadwick Boseman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Martin Freeman, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, and Andy Serkis.