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Saturday, December 5, 2020

Dora Milaje Should Headline on Disney+

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EJ Stewart
EJ Stewart
Elijah Stewart is an associate producer for NY1, Founder & Host on Nu Generation Media & Podcast Network and Sports Editor of TheHub.News

On the same day it was announced that Marvel’s popular series Daredevil would join the likes of Luke Cage and Iron Fist as the latest show to be cancelled by Netflix, Deadline reported that a series featuring two Avengers would soon be debuting on Disney’s streaming service Disney+. Vision and The Scarlet Witch, starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, which is reportedly set to launch some time in 2019.

It would be the newest addition to the streaming service’s growing Marvel lineup that already includes a series’ focused on Tom Hiddleston’s Loki character. A team-up of Winter Soldier and Falcon starring Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie and possible adventure with the loveable duo of Rocket and Groot from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise are reportedly being discussed by Disney and Marvel executives, as well.

With Marvel’s presence on Netflix seemingly dwindling by the month, the new Marvel Studios-produced content coming to Disney+ could fill a big void. But in order to do that, Marvel needs to match or exceed the lasting impact made by shows being axed by Netflix.

That is especially true for a show like Luke Cage—which was Marvel’s first venture in bringing a story led by a black superhero to our television screens. It goes without saying, the cultural impact of seeing the story of a bulletproof black man fight crime to protect his black, working-class community in an authentic way is profound.

As excited as I am for Marvel’s ventures coming to the Disney streaming service, the roster of shows being talked about for Disney+ won’t bring in the unique audience of viewers a show like Luke Cage was able to garner. That’s where I believe the Dora Milaje of the fictional African utopia Wakanda could fit in beautifully.

Black Panther once again proved to be Marvel’s biggest solo franchise this week by becoming the first superhero movie to nominated for Best Motion Picture Drama by the Golden Globes. The movie, starring Chadwick Boseman, Letitia Wright and Lupita Nyong’o, remains a critical and commercial smash for Marvel Studioscurrently holding a 97 percent Rotten Tomatoes score and earning more than $1.3 billion in worldwide ticket sales.

There’s no better time than now for Marvel to capitalize on this scorching-hot brand. And with Disney+ appearing to be the home for Marvel’s heroes who likely won’t be the stars of their own solo films, the streaming service would be the perfect landing spot to let the fearsome ladies of the Dora Milaje take the spotlight.

Headed by the stoic, but fierce Okoye (played in the movie by Danai Gurira), the group of female warriors were first introduced in the comics during the late 90s. Based on real 17th century African female warriors known as the Dahomey Amazons, the Dora Milaje serve as Wakanda’s special forces and personal bodyguards to the country’s monarchy.

With shaved heads to reject the standards of Western beauty, the women of Dora Milaje have a depth and history worth exploring. It includes conflicts of love, action, violence, drama and betrayalexperiences all Americans can relate to, but especially familiar for black women.  

A series centered around the group could stand to be one of the brightest displays of black female empowerment on television if handled properly. The Marvel fanbase is enormous, the Black Panther brand is lucrative and Gurira would come with an already-established television following from her time on the AMC hit The Walking Dead if she were chosen to headline.

Fans have displayed numerous times (Black Panther, Wonder Woman, Luke Cage, etc.) that superhero movies and television shows that have embraced diversity and provide quality, will be rewarded. In launching its new streaming service and pitching new superhero shows, it’s important for Disney to understand the value of representation from groups that are often shunned by other genres.

A series centered around the Dora Milaje would be the first of its kind. And if Black Panther is any indicator, a venture into the unchartered territory could have Disney strike vibranium again.

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