Marvel Comics’ Newest Female Superhero Inspired By The Nigerian Chibok Elementary Girls

Get set for a new Marvel comic book character that is markedly different from all the others. In a recent press announcement from Reuters, this new comic will feature an African teen girl as the central superhero, who hails from Nigeria. Her name is Ngozi, and she was inspired by the kidnapped Chibok girls who became the subject of headline news globally a few years ago after they were kidnapped by terrorist group Boko Haram.

Since the kidnapping, which sparked a global movement on social media called #BringBackourGirls as a way to raise awareness, a number of girls have been rescued, many of them pregnant. The kidnapping was an horrific reminder of the evil that exists in the world, and the importance of everyday heroes that seek to protect the well being of the most vulnerable in our world.

In the fictional world, it’s also important to see heroes that reflect reality, which is what Marvel and the comic’s author hopes to do with this Ngozi. Reuters reports Nigerian-American writer Nnedi Okorafor (pictured above), an English professor at the University at Buffalo in New York and award-winning author is the mastermind behind this new story line. The comic she wrote is called ‘Blessing in Disguise’ and is part of the Venomverse, which features other popular Marvel characters such as Black Panther, Venom, and Deadpool.

Nnedi released an image from the comic book via her Twitter account which shows readers a snippet of how Ngozi got her superpowers, and also how Black Panther features in the story. Another important part of this comic is that it is set in a real African city, Lagos, whereas Black Panther’s story is set in a fictional place called Wakanda.

The author told Reuters she hopes the story of Ngozi will resonate with young African girls, given the inspiration from real life events.

“It was an important decision for me to base Ngozi on the one of the Chibok girls. They were normal girls who suddenly had to deal with a huge change in their lives … and their story of perseverance is so powerful. Like many Nigerian girls, Ngozi comes in a small package but is strong-willed and determined,” she said.

Nnedi said she was excited by the success of the ‘Wonder Woman’ film, which is the first major blockbuster feature film centered around a female superhero since 2005, and is the first superhero film directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins. ‘Wonder Woman’ was a breakout hit for the DC Extended Universe, bringing in over $100 million in its opening weekend alone, and breaking records to become the highest-grossing opening weekend for a woman director. A sequel has already been announced, with Patty Jenkins returning as director.

But there were some criticisms of the film, especially due to its lack of visibility of women of color. As Cameron Glover at Harper’s Bazaar wrote in a very informative piece, the film was bittersweet for a number of black women who have long had valid criticisms of the way the feminist movement has excluded the voices of women of color and intersectional issues.

“Historically, Black women have played a significant role in the Wonder Woman comics and media prior to the film. In the comics, Black Amazons were canon (i.e part of the storyline’s continuity) and visible in their own stories, painting a broader, more inclusive picture of what life on Themyscira—and the wider world of the Wonder Woman universe—looks like. In the comics, Philippus, the leader of the Amazon military, plays a significant role in raising Diana and eventually teaching her how to fight. Diana also has a Black sister named Nubia, though they don’t meet until much later in Diana’s story. But even with Black women playing such significant roles in the original Wonder Woman story, their erasure from the film adaptation proves the inclusion of Black women and their stories is still not a priority for mainstream feminism,” she wrote.

Although the film is a major step forward for female superheroes, there is still a long way to go, and Nnedi hopes ‘Blessing in Disguise’ will continue the momentum.

“I‘m a huge Wonder Woman fan, but we can really push it further when it comes to diversity. I‘m not just talking about race and sexual orientation, but about having a range of personalities with different desires, dreams and flaws. I don’t only want to see badass female characters, I want to see much less predictable ones,” she said.

Along with the forthcoming ‘Black Panther’ film starring Chadwick Boseman, perhaps there may be a possibility of seeing Ngozi on the big screen one day. In the meantime, young girls can be inspired by a story filled with empowerment, showing them they too can be a hero. You can see a preview of ‘Blessing in Disguise’ in the image below.

 

 

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