ayofilmIn Captain America: Civil War, when Natasha Romanoff tries to approach Prince T’Challa, she’s intercepted by a bald woman, only credited as “Security Chief”, who menacingly says to her: “Move or you will be moved”. With the casting for Black Panther continuing, and Florence Kasumba confirmed to return, we learn the name of her character: she’s Ayo, a member of the Wakandan royal family’s bodyguards, the Dora Milaje. Ayo is a pretty recent character, who’s receiving quite a spotlight in the most recent Black Panther comic series this year. Being such a new entry, MCU has quite carte blanche with her, but there’s a lot to say about her nevertheless. Let’s see together.

Ayo was born in the wealthy and isolated country of Wakanda. Little more than a teenager, she was chosen by her tribe to become a member of the Dora Milaje, an ancient group of women chosen in every tribe from Wakanda, which served as both bodyguards to the royal family and wives-in-training for an unmarried prince (a way for every tribe to access the throne sooner or later). The Dora Milaje had been disbanded for decades, but Prince T’Challa had reformed them to win the sympathy of the tribes, outraged for his attempt to marry a woman from outside Wakanda, Monica Lynne. The training to be a part of the Dora Milaje had always been a harsh one, and considering the current times, it was even more: when Ayo entered the group, the Adored Ones (the translation of the Wakandan term) had already become a small army, and they were used as an elite force to face the many threats coming to Wakanda. During her first days of serving Wakanda and T’Challa, Ayo had to battle invading forces, the Sentinel Squad O*N*E*, led by War Machine, following an incident occurred at the White House. The attack was repelled, but Iron Man came to arrest the Dora Milaje: only Black Panther and Storm, king and queen of Wakanda, protected them. The greatest threat to Wakanda arrived immediately after, as Doctor Doom started an ayocomics1all-out war to conquer Wakanda, killing several Dora Milaje in the process. To face this new threat, Black Panther created an elite Dora Milaje team, the Midnight Angels, equipped with high-tech armors and trained to counter magic-based and technology-based attacks: Ayo was a member of the Angels, and she followed Deadpool‘s lead in a mission to eradicate the threat and kill Doom directly. The mission failed, but Doom was eventually repelled when Black Panther rendered all Wakanda’s Vibranium inert, and useless to the Latverian dictator. But this wasn’t the end of Ayo’s and the Dora Milaje’s battles, quite the opposite.

When Thanos attacked Earth for the umpteenth time, Wakanda found itself on the first line, but things weren’t as clear as before: Atlantis had declared war on Wakanda months before, while Namor was possessed by the Phoenix Force, but Black Panther had kept contacts with him as both were members of the Illuminati. When the Dora Milaje found out about this, they considered it to be treason, and they presented the evidence of the meetings to Shuri, T’Challa’s sister: Ayo and the others plaid their allegiance to Shuri, who became the new Black Panther and Queen of Wakanda. From that moment, Ayo and the other Adored Ones followed a leader they truly respected, and a new relationship with the crown was established; Ayo particularly grew close to another one of the Dora Milaje, the instructor Aneka, and they eventually became lovers. Peace didn’t last, as Shuri was killed in battle by Namor when Atlantis invaded Wakanda once again, this time trying to stop the Incursions that had been plaguing the world. The crisis that ensued was solved only when T’Challa reprised his position as King of Wakanda, but things were much different now, as the population didn’t trust its king anymore. Even Ayo’s loyalty was put to a test when Aneka was imprisoned after killing a chieftain who was abusing the women from his tribe: hoping that the harsh justice of Wakanda could know compassion, Ayo went directly to Ramonda, the Queen Mother and the administrator of justice of the country, to plead for her beloved, ayocomics2but although saddened, Ramonda couldn’t allow any exception, and she sentenced Aneka to death. This was the last drop for Ayo, who decided she didn’t recognize herself in her country, its ruler nor its justice anymore: she stole two Midnight Angel armors, and she used them to free Aneka from the prison of Fort Hahn. Together, they would have brought justice to every region Wakandan law didn’t arrive to, fighting together for a better Wakanda to live in, with no king to obey to, nor repressive rules to follow: for the first time in their lives, they were free.

Ayo is a proud and brave woman, deeply committed to serve her country and its royal family; years of disappointment in the rightful king T’Challa and in the country’s ineffective laws, however, exacted their toll, and she’s now more doubtful towards institutions, with her patriotism taking a more… direct approach. As a Dora Milaje, she’s a highly trained martial artist, an expert in the use of traditional Wakandan weapons; the Midnight Angel armor allows her to fly, to shoot powerful energy blasts and grants her superhuman strength and durability. More committed to her country than to its laws and traditions, Ayo fights for a new Wakanda, one in which law is truly able to protect Wakandan people and to ensure everybody a brighter future.


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