This is the Falcon & Winter Soldier spinoff we need right now

The Falcon & Winter Soldier spinoff we need right now
(Image credit: Marvel Studios/Disney)

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has shown that traces of Wakanda can be found throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There’s Captain America’s shield, which even casual fans know is made of vibranium. And at the end of episode three, Bucky picked up a couple of kimoyo beads, which were just the tease for what was around the corner.

Sure enough, a famed member of the Dora Milaje, the private guard to Black Panther, made her presence known. From the time Ayo showed up, to her team's dismantling — and dismissal — of Bucky and John Walker, one thing has become clear: we need a Dora Milaje spinoff.

In a series with Baron Zemo dancing and Madripoor being code for mutants, it's the Dora Milaje who have stood out as scene-stealers in their own right.

Ayo’s initial appearance was followed up by a reminder of Wakanda's role in freeing Bucky from his Winter Soldier programming, to start episode four. That revelation underscores Ayo's frustration, who wonders how Bucky could have freed Zemo after removing said programming like a "rotten fur." She leaves with her kimoyo beads and a warning — "eight hours" before the Dora Milaje take down Zero.

Falcon and Winter Soldier spin-off

(Image credit: Marvel Studios/Disney Plus)

Ayo and the other bodyguards show up later in the episode during a break in the action that originally appears to be a conflict between Sam Wilson/Falcon, and John Walker, the new Captain America. What resulted was a devastating display that overpowered Bucky and turned into a moment of truth for Walker.

The beatdown led to a turn of events that drove Walker to take the super-soldier serum, which by the end of the episode, brought out his violent side. Bucky, for his part, found out that Wakanda had a failsafe in place for the Winter Soldier all along.

Fitting the Dora Milaje into the MCU

So, how does a Dora Milaje spinoff series play out? It’s important to note, first and foremost, that a Wakanda-based spinoff series is already slated for Disney Plus. The series is a part of Black Panther director Ryan Coogler's TV deal with Disney, and would likely run after the Black Panther sequel, which is scheduled for a July 2022 release. Certainly, the Dora Milaje would be mentioned in such a series, though the kingdom of Wakanda is more vast than even the royal guard.

Various Dora Milaje team-ups have happened in the comics, but in 2017, Black Panther: World of Wakanda featured Ayo and Aneka, both Dora Milaje members — and lovers. Despite low sales, the story was compelling and presented both Ayo and Aneka not as background players, but vital characters whose ideologies deserved to be explored.

Continuing the story from Black Panther

All things considered, there is a way to present a Dora Milaje spinoff series that is not only fashionable and forward-thinking, but functional in the continuation of the Black Panther story. It goes without saying that Chadwick Boseman’s passing leaves a chasm in the Black Panther universe, as does the decision to not recast him. That presents a golden opportunity to see the Dora Milaje as not only guards of the king, but of a nation. Also, what happens if the individual who takes on the role of the Panther is not a man, but a woman, such as Shuri?

The Falcon & Winter Soldier spinoff we need right now: Black Panther

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

At the very least, the series can include a nation in peril and standout characters such as Okoye and Ayo. The history of the tribe is certainly worth exploring, not just because of their military training, but the tradition of assembling as queens for an unmarried king (or queen?), which suggest rivalries within the ranks. That’s one option, and of course, there’s also the option for the new Panther to view members as warrior daughters, not wives-in-training. One thing is certain, when it comes to the possibilities, the Dora Milaje are more than a bunch of pointy sticks.

In the meantime, we’ll just have to enjoy moments like the Wakandan who snatched Cap's shield from Walker, a callback to the shared history between the Panthers and Steve Rogers. Or we can enjoy the Dora Milaje's boundless jurisdiction, whether in Wakanda, Latvia or Sokovia. One thing is for certain — any scene with the Dora Milaje is just like Marvel's current cinematic streak. It simply doesn’t miss.

Ken Makin

Ken J. Makin is a tech and entertainment writer for Tom’s Guide, and has nearly 20 years of experience as a journalist. He’s an avid podcaster and freelancer for various sites, including ESPN’s The Undefeated and The Christian Science Monitor. When he’s not podding or writing, Ken is likely spending time with his wife and children.