Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong’o cast in true story behind Black Panther’s female warriors

Lupita Nyong'o Viola Davis
Actress Lupita Nyong'o (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images) and actress Viola Davis (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

The boxoffice success and critical acclaim of Black Panther has everyone clamoring for more of the story—and Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o are ready to deliver!

Shadow and Act has confirmed that Lupita Nyong’o and Viola Davis will star in an exciting new project exploring the true story behind the Panther’s female fighting force, the Dora Milaje.

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The film, entitled The Woman King, is based on an extraordinary mother-daughter story acquired by TriStar. “There’s no one more extraordinary than Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o to bring them to life,” said Hannah Minghella, president of TriStar Pictures, in a statement.

The film will tell the story of the Kingdom of Dahomey, the kingdom that reportedly inspired Christopher Priest — the first Black comic book writer for Black Panther—to create King T’Challa’s fierce female army. 

According to Shadow and Act:

The film is inspired by true events in the Kingdom of Dahomey, a powerful state in 18th century. It will tell the story of Nanisca (Davis), general of the all-female military unit known as the Amazons, and her daughter Nawi (Nyong’o), who together fought the French and neighboring tribes who violated their honor, enslaved their people, and threatened to destroy everything they’ve lived for. 

“The Woman King has the potential to be a game changer for women of color everywhere,” Tennon told Shadow and Act. “The Woman King will tell one of history’s greatest forgotten stories from the real world in which we live, where an army of African warrior women staved off slavery, colonialism and inter-tribal warfare to unify a nation.”

Meet the Dora Milaje

If you saw Black Panther then you were likely captivated by the strength and overall badassness of the Wakandan army, the Dora Milaje.

What you may not know is that the fierce female force–led by breakout actress Danai Gurira‘s character Okoye–is actually based on a real tribe of fighters known as the Dahomey Amazons.

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According to the Smithsonian, the first traces of the women warriors is from the 1720s. They served as guards to the palace in Dahomey, an African kingdom that existed between 1600 and the late 1800s.  

And the female army, based on the Dahomey warriors, were reportedly first introduced in Vol. 3 of Marvel’s Black Panther comic books as special forces unit for Wakanda. Known as the “adored ones,” Aneka, Ayo, Okoye, Nakia and Queen Divine Justices served as King T’Challa’s guards.  

Hopefully Ruth Carter, the legendary Black Panther costume designer, will be sign on for this project as well. Carter has already been tapped to work on the upcoming superhero film, Silver & Black, a female centered spin-off from the popular Spiderman franchise.

We can’t wait to see Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o take on these exciting roles.