The first trailer for Viola Davis’ war epic has been released. Based on a true story, The female king focuses on General Nanisca of the Kingdom of Dahomey and the Amazons of Dahomey. The film is set against the backdrop of West African history, which isn’t that common in Hollywood, but it draws a quick comparison with Black Panther and wonder woman.
Between the 18th and 19th centuries, the kingdom of Dahomey was one of the most powerful states in Africa in what is now southern Benin. Nanisca, the warrior leader, joins her recruit Nawi, played by Thuso Mbedu, as they battle against those who have destroyed their sense of honor. The trailer depicts plenty of fighting action and Viola Davis like audiences have never seen her before. It should also take a different approach to colonialism in Africa, another subject that has usually been covered by major productions.
But The female king is not the first project representing the Amazons of Dahomey. Warriors have also been depicted in the series Lovecraft Country. They formed a real army that swore to protect the lands of the kingdom and their king, a kingdom colonized after the arrival of Europeans. The warriors were named by Western historians, who saw in the unusual all-female military regiment a similarity with mythical Anatolia and the Amazons, which in turn inspired wonder woman.
DC wonder woman belongs in part to Greek mythology. Superheroine Diana Prince is a warrior of the race of Amazon women who live on Paradise Island, also known as Themyscira. The island, isolated in the middle of the ocean, figures prominently in both Warner Brothers films as part of Diana’s history and background. The breed lives hidden from the rest of the world and does not age.
A former vassal state of the Oyo Empire, the Kingdom of Dahomey has been widely documented and one of the nations most familiar to Westerners. Its economy was based on conquest and slave labor, with centralized administrative and fiscal systems. The Dahomey Amazons were an important part of their military and royal guard, drawing an immediate comparison with Black Panther. In the comics, the Dora Milaje are a group of recruited female warriors, Black Panther’s personal bodyguards and royal security.
Historically, warfare was generally a male territory, with some exceptions, but the Kingdom of Dahomey faced many casualties in constant fighting with neighboring African states and the slave trade. This prompted King Houegbadja to form the all-female regiment in the 1600s. The group was disbanded in the early 20th century when Dahomey became a French protectorate.
The female kingGeneral Nanisca is played by an unrecognizable Viola Davis, and she is the first to accept. “It’s transformative,” she said in an interview with Vanity Fair. “I’ve never played a role like this before.” Indeed, Davis underwent extensive training to prepare for the role. The actor trained about four hours a day, five days a week to physically prepare for the role. “Bodybuilding, sprinting, martial arts and machete weapons training,” she counted. “I like to say I was the OG warrior.”
In The female king, Nanisca and Nawi, an ambitious recruit to the regiment, battle newly arrived enemies who have “violated their honor, enslaved their people, and threatened to destroy all they have lived for”. The film also stars Lashana Lynch, John Boyega, Sheila Atim, Adrienne Warren, Jayme Lawson, and Hero Fiennes Tiffin.
To see the story that inspired Wonder Woman and Black Panther, The Woman King opens September 16.