Marvel Studios is promoting Black Panther ahead of its February 16 release, including some politically correct changes that are being made from the source material.
Black Panther focuses on T’Challa, the king of a fictional African nation called Wakanda, which the ruler is also sworn to protect under the mantle of Black Panther. Due to the presence of the supernatural element vibranium (the same one used to make Captain America’s shield), Wakanda has become technologically advanced while also managing to stave off any Western colonialism, resulting in an odd mix of sci-fi elements and traditional African culture.
One change in this story, mostly by omission, has to do with the Dora Milaje. They are a group of all-female bodyguards who will help T’Challa in his fight against the movie’s supervillains. In the comics, however, they are also supposed to be semi-betrothed to the king, with each one potentially becoming his future wife as part of their position. T’Challa himself considered this mostly a ceremonial aspect of the job, and naturally never took advantage of it.
According to producer Nate Moore, this aspect will not be explored in the film, saying it “wasn’t necessary to tell the story of the Dora and in a way we all kind of rejected as being a little creepy.”
Despite removing that aspect, Moore also makes it clear that each group member is meant to be a rounded character in her own right, with their (platonic) relationships to T’Challa being an important part of the movie. Also, the idea of a romantic bond between him and the Dora Milaje is not completely erased: Nakia, played by Lupita Nyong’o, is a member and is also described as being T’Challa’s ex-lover.
Meanwhile, another change is to the villain M’Baku (Winston Duke), who will be working with the main antagonist, Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). In the comics, M’Baku goes by the villain name Man-Ape, having gained his powers by killing a sacred white gorilla, bathing in its blood and eating its flesh; he also wears its skin as his costume. The film, hoping to skirt by unfortunate implications of all this with a black character, has removed these aspects, though he is stated to belong to a Wakandan tribe that worships the white gorillas, similar to how T’Challa’s worships the panther.