Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for Black Panther.
Black Panther finally premiered this week, and as expected, it did the damn thing. Not only is it shattering box-office records left and right with the strength of Wakanda's vibranium, but it's a movie that doesn't shy away from spotlighting so many characters outside of its titular lead — and lifts up the women who fight to protect the safety of their country in all kinds of ways, from the science lab to the battlefield.
Dora Milaje general Okoye (Danai Gurira, The Walking Dead), Wakandan princess and inventor Shuri (Letitia Wright, Black Mirror), undercover spy and War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o, Star Wars), and mother and queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett, American Horror Story) are among just some of the ladies who get chances to shine in this film. We're celebrating them by highlighting some of their best Black Panther moments.
Shuri inventing ALL THE THINGS
Shuri, T'Challa's sister, is more than just Wakandan royalty. As we see over the course of the movie, not only is she responsible for inventing (and perfecting) most of the advanced tech T'Challa uses when he's fighting bad guys - she's also the main architect behind the actual Black Panther suit. Since T'Challa's first appearance in Civil War, Shuri's made some significant upgrades to the suit (which is made of vibranium), including the ability to store kinetic energy in order to create a giant blast that can send people (or cars) flying. From panther-shaped weapon gloves to the kimoyo beads that act as communicators and control machines, Shuri represents the power that comes with applying skills and abilities in one's unique field of strength.
Nakia utilizing her spy skills
We first encounter Nakia while she's undercover on a mission, but she doesn't get far before T'Challa extracts her in order to extend a super caj invitation to his coronation ceremony. (I feel like there are better ways to invite your ex to your coronation than to show up and take down a bunch of soldiers, but T'Challa definitely still carries a torch for Nakia and this scene proves that.) Once back in Wakanda, she's already itching to get back to her spy business - and she gets the opportunity to do that when T'Challa enlists her to help him infiltrate an undercover casino with the aim of apprehending arms dealer Ulysses Klaue. Nakia represents a different kind of action heroine: she prefers stealth and subterfuge over any kind of fighting, though she's not above taking baddies down when the situation calls. Which leads us to our next badass moment...
Black Panther Casino Fight
Okoye and Nakia fighting in the underground casino
When you can't exit a mission gracefully, sometimes you have to engage in a little hand-to-hand combat. The situation goes sideways pretty quickly when T'Challa realizes Klaue has set the whole thing up, and amidst guns blazing he, Nakia and Okoye start taking out Klaue's men. At one point, Okoye snatches off her fake wig and tosses it in a dude's face right before she uses her spear to FLIP HIM OVER THE BALCONY, and it is glorious. Meanwhile, on the ground, Nakia shows off her sharpshooting skills when she picks off several baddies from the level above. The entire fight is a gorgeous thing to behold, and I want to roll around in this scene from now until eternity.
Okoye, Nakia and Shuri are fast and furious in the car chase
After Klaue narrowly escapes the casino, the chase is on. While Okoye and Nakia hop into one vibranium-protected car to speed after him, T'Challa enlists the help of Shuri - who uses a bit of her super cool tech in order to drive another car remotely from her lab in Wakanda. Okoye uses her spear to car-surf - and at one point, practically bends a vehicle in half by throwing it through the windshield - and both Nakia and Shuri get to show off their precision driving skills. Basically, the Black Panther has three women watching his six and helping to take out several of Klaue's henchmen along the way.
The Dora Milaje take on Killmonger/the Border Tribe
At the climax of the film, Wakanda is in chaos. Tribes are divided over their loyalties, whether to T'Challa or to newcomer Killmonger (who has recently seized the throne), and this leads to some in-fighting as a result. Although the Dora Milaje are sworn to protect the king of Wakanda, Okoye realizes that they can't support Killmonger's vision and the Dora Milaje eventually turn against him - as well as against the Border Tribe, who have sided with Killmonger.
The end result is an all-out fight scene that leads to several of the Dora Milaje facing off against Killmonger before T'Challa enters the fray for the ultimate showdown, but the side battle between the Dora Milaje and the Border Tribe shouldn't be overlooked either. It's full of both inner and outer conflict as friends and lovers wind up fighting against one another, and it culminates in freakin' war rhinos, as well as some badass combat from Okoye, Nakia, Shuri and the Dora Milaje warriors.
The women of Wakanda save T'Challa
Hands down, one of the biggest emotional moments of Black Panther belongs to the women. When Killmonger defeats T'Challa in ritual combat, all seems lost at first - but Nakia, Shuri and T'Challa's mother Ramonda sneak off in secret to try and seek aid for their country. They soon discover T'Challa has been rescued by the reclusive mountain Jabari Tribe, and thanks to Nakia's quick fingers are able to administer him the heart-shaped herb that restores the power of the Black Panther to his beaten body.
Black Panther surrounds its hero with women, and they're all badasses in their own right. The film acknowledges that T'Challa needs the support of the various women around him in order to succeed, ensuring that Wakanda thrives under the protection of its king. All hail the women of Black Panther. They're the superhero team we've been waiting for.