Could Lupita Nyong’o‘s character, Nakia, be trouble in Black Panther? Or will the movie change her complicated history with T’Challa?
Lupita’s very presence and involvement in Black Panther is one of the main reasons we are so excited to see the movie. We’ve been waiting for more Black women to show up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and we’re ready to soak up all of the magic she and the rest of the cast are about to supply.
We know that her character Nakia has some romantic connection to Chadwick Boseman‘s T’Challa. Nakia is easily the closest thing that T’Challa has to a love interest in Black Panther. Their chemistry is undeniable, and they work well together. Viewers might assume that they’re a couple, but they are decidedly not–and not because Nakia isn’t interested!
In Black Panther lore, Nakia was selected to be one of the Dora Milaje, or “adored ones,” which is The Black Panther’s army of female warriors. We’ve already seen them on the big screen; remember the Black woman who warned Black Widow, “Move. Or you will be moved”? That was one of the Dora Milaje, and that one exchange alone quickly established that they are not to be crossed!
Aside from being T’Challa’s personal and carefully selected security detail, they are also his wives in waiting. In short, the women on that team are first in line to get chose. Potentially, T’Challa could pick any of the ladies among their ranks and marry her, and she would become Queen of Wakanda. And it makes sense that The Black Panther would be expected to marry someone that is his physical equal because, in Wakanda, they seem to understand that a great king requires a powerful queen by his side.
Knowing this, Nakia began to develop feelings for T’Challa. Unfortunately, in print cannon, this is a one-sided love as T’Challa generally sees her as more of a student. She may be Dora Milaje, but he’s still Black Panther and as such the best warrior in all of Wakanda.
On-screen, it seems that T’Challa and Nakia do have a romantic history and we’ve seen some flirtation between them in trailers. So, from clips eager audiences have seen, they might have been together at one point. Unfortunately, in the comics, Nakia’s unrequited love turns her into the villain Malice!
It’s not clear whether that will come up or even be hinted at during Black Panther. As far as we can tell, Lupita is simply going to be beautiful, fearsome, and all-around phenomenal for this movie. Would it be too much to hope for that Ryan Coogler is shelving the scorned woman narrative? Maybe not!
We’ll have to find out for sure once Black Panther debuts in theaters nationwide on Friday.