The Dora Milaje are an elite group of female bodyguards, and Wakandan special forces.
The Dora Milaje served King T'Chaka during his time as the Black Panther. In 1992, two Dora Milaje accompanied T'Chaka to the home of Prince N'Jobu in Oakland, California. After confirming N'Jobu's identity, they struck their spears on the ground, causing the lights to go out. When the light returned, King T'Chaka was standing between them. After removing his helmet, T'Chaka dismissed them back to the Royal Talon Flyer on the roof.
Following the death of King T'Chaka and subsequent arrest of the Winter Soldier, T'Challa was being escorted by Ayo to his car when he learned from his Attaché that Barnes had escaped from the Joint Counter Terrorist Centre Building. The group was intercepted by Natasha Romanoff, whom Ayo ordered out of their way, else she would be removed by force, to which T'Challa mused at as he dismissed her.
Prior to his coronation as King of Wakanda, T'Challa enlisted the aid of Okoye, General of the Dora Milaje, to assist him in recruiting Nakia, a War Dog and former lover of T'Challa. As they tracked her down, T'Challa prepared to intercept the slave convoy Nakia had infiltrated when Okoye reminded him not to freeze when he and Nakia saw each other, which T'Challa refuted before dropping from the Royal Talon Flyer.
As he descended, T'Challa released several EMP Beads onto the convoy, disabling their vehicles. After dispatching the guerillas on the ground, T'Challa hesitated when he saw Nakia, allowing one of the slave traders to get the drop on them, holding one of the women at gunpoint until Okoye appeared, disarming and impaling him with her spear before she dryly remarked that T'Challa froze as expected.
After freeing the slaves, Okoye ordered the group to never speak of the events they'd just witnessed before the Wakandans took off in the Royal Talon Flyer, leaving the group awestruck.
As the three entered Birnin Zana, they were greeted by Dora Milaje escorts, led by Ayo, as well as Princess Shuri and Queen Mother Ramonda. After having a brief conversation with Shuri, Okoye dismissed the rest of Dora escorts, leading them away to prepare for the festival.
Later, as the leaders of the Wakandan Tribes and their warriors journeyed down the river to Warrior Falls, the Dora Milaje struck their spears on their riverboat, activating the drainage system for the waterfall. As the ceremony commenced, the Dora Milaje took their places along the edge of the Falls while Zuri asked for challengers from the tribes to face T'Challa in ritual combat to fight for the mantles of Black Panther and King of Wakanda.
When none of the tribes chose to challenge, however, the Jabari Tribe arrived, led by M'Baku. M'Baku challenged T'Challa, who accepted after hearing the Jabari leader speak of his late father T'Chaka. As the ritual combat began, both leaders commanded their warriors to take up position surrounding the combatants, with both Jabari tribesmen and Dora Milaje forming a semi-circle boundary with their spears, drawing closer whenever a combatant was downed.
Ultimately, T'Challa bested M'Baku, much to Okoye's relief as the Wakandans celebrated their new king.
With the surprise of arrival of Erik Killmonger with the corpse of Ulysses Klaue, the Dora Milaje stood ready in the Council Chamber to protect the King and Council Members from the potential threat. But upon his revelation as N'Jobu's son, the Dora Milaje were duty bound not to interfere as Killmonger revealed issued challenge for the throne and mantle. At Warrior Falls, the Dora Milaje stood by as the challenge played out. After T'Challa's supposed death at Warrior Falls, they stood to serve their new King and Black Panther.
When Erik Killmonger was preparing forces to disseminate Wakandan weapons to War Dogs, T'Challa had revealed himself alive by grounding an aircraft. Seeing as he was not dead nor had he yielded, the Challenge was still ongoing. But finding Killmonger order the Border Tribe to attack T'Challa instead of finishing the challenge himself, General Okoye ordered the Dora Milaje to stand against him, as his hatred and dishonor made him unsuited for the Wakandan throne. Okoye with a small squad fought Killmonger, all while Ayo lead the remaining members to aid T'Challa against the Border Tribe.
- In the comics, the Dora Milaje are the personal bodyguards and royal security of the Black Panther, recruited from every tribe of Wakanda. In addition with their protective function, they are also a pool of superior Wakandan women for the King to possibly marry.
Behind the Scenes
- Black Panther producer Nate Moore revealed in an interview with Screen Rant that the betrothal aspect from the comics was deliberately excluded from the Marvel Cinematic Universe incarnation of the group: "You know, that was sort of part of the original Christopher Priest run where they were all betrothed which we felt wasn’t necessary to tell the story of the Dora and in a way we all kind of rejected as being a little creepy. So we will not be exploring that."
- The Dora Milaje costumes drew inspiration from Filipino and Japanese elements in addition to its African roots. According to senior visual development illustrator Anthony Francisco, the shoes were meant to look like Japanese jika-tabi boots, the beadwork and tassles from Ifugao decor in the Philippines, the arm bands and neck rings from Ndebele women, and the rest of the costume from the Maasai. With around 80% of the costume from African sources, Francisco described the breakdown of other influences as "five percent Samurai, five percent ninja, and five percent Ifugao tribe."