Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has finally graced movie screens, and so have the faces of quite a few new characters. The world has been abuzz over the Marvel Cinematic Universe introductions of Namor and Riri Williams, but those are not the only names making their live-action debuts in the film. One of the overshadowed additions is the latest member of the Dora Milaje – Michaela Coel’s Aneka. The character has a unique role in the film, as an important part of Wakanda’s storied history and ever-evolving future. Of course, no movie adaptation can be exactly like the source material, and as such, Murphy’s Multiverse has an urgent job to do. It has become the site’s duty to lay down Aneka’s role in both the comics and the MCU and to play a game of compare and contrast for readers to sift through and enjoy.
Comics – Aneka, Midnight Angel
Aneka’s comic story begins largely the same as it does on the big screen, as a newly introduced member of the Dora Milaje. However, on the page, Aneka is more than just part of Wakanda’s greatest protectors, serving as the group’s combat instructor in a position personally appointed by King T’Challa. She specialized in tech-based combat, initially using her role to train the Dora for an upcoming battle against vicious robots as part of the Doomwar. Eventually, however, Aneka would lose her title and be jailed at the behest of Queen Ramonda. The youthful Dora found herself on trial for the murder of a village chieftain, whom she had slain in an effort to protect the women he was abusing. Aneka’s teammate and romantic partner, Ayo, was unable to abide by Ramonda’s decision, and also left the Dora Milaje. Ayo then stole a prototype “Midnight Angel” armor, a new high-tech suit designed for the Dora and broke Aneka out of prison, gifting her a second set of armor before leaving together.
Aneka and Ayo took refuge with the women the former had saved before going on trial, but quickly found themselves under siege from the White Gorilla and his vile Jabari forces. As the Midnight Angels, a self-proclaimed offshoot of the Dora Milaje, the duo killed the White Gorilla and took over the Jabari lands. In an effort to rewrite history, they established a democratic form of government within the Jabari lands and made it their goal to campaign for a better Wakanda. Soon, they would accept an offer of assistance from a separate Wakandan rebellion, known as “the People”, and T’Challa would become unsettled by the rising unrest in his nation. After a few inciting incidents, T’Challa and the people of Wakanda would go on the offensive against the Midnight Angels and the Jabari, growing the disagreement into a full-scale civil conflict.
The partnership between the Midnight Angels and the People deteriorated not long after, with the former disapproving of the latter’s increasingly violent tactics. The breakdown in compatibility between the groups lead to the People breaking off and becoming something of a terrorist organization, causing Shuri to confront her former peers and ask them to assist her and T’Challa in protecting Wakanda’s innocents. Although the alliance between the Wakandan leadership and the Midnight Angels was fragile at first, it would eventually culminate in a truce that saw T’Challa reform Wakanda’s government away from monarchy and Aneka regain respect for her country.
MCU – Aneka, Midnight Angel
The MCU’s take on Aneka is not a combat instructor, but she is shown to gravitate towards innovative weaponry as a member of the Dora Milaje. Also, like her comic counterpart, Aneka is not held by tradition and appears to be something of a free-thinker, much to the chagrin of Okoye and the other longstanding Dora. Her role in Wakanda Forever is a relatively minor one, but it does ring a few bells that indicate she could have a much larger part to play in future Wakanda-based projects. Aneka is first seen stopping an attack on a foreign Wakandan embassy alongside her Dora teammates, Ayo included, wielding new prototype daggers designed by Shuri. Later in the film, it is revealed that Aneka and Ayo are in a relationship, like the comics, and Aneka becomes one of the very few Dora Milaje members to receive the finished “Midnight Angel” armor Shuri had created as an advanced form of Wakandan protection in the wake of her brother’s death. She dons the armor and her daggers to aid in the final battle against Talokan, before peacefully returning home to Wakanda with Ayo.
While Aneka does not play as big of a role as she does in the comics, some of her other story elements are still present in Wakanda Forever, albeit with other characters adopting them. Her trial before Ramonda and removal from the Dora technically occurs in the film, but with Okoye in her position instead. Okoye’s use of the Midnight Angel armor to become a Wakandan hero outside of the Dora is also reminiscent of Aneka’s arc in the books. Furthermore, Shuri’s dissatisfaction with Wakanda’s government and traditions, and ultimate reconciliation with T’Challa’s legacy, has strokes of Aneka’s original origin.