Love + Sex, Love

The best couple in Black Panther is not T’Challa and Nakia and you can fight me about it

Okoye and W’Kabi are the best couple - just hear me out.

In the wake of Black Panther, I can’t help but join in the conversation of so many amazing moments. From the beautiful scenery, the detail and tribute to both African and diaspora cultures, and the wonderful comedic moments, it was truly amazing. Then to add the icing on top of the cake, we got so much love. The love between a father and son, so often not represented, and love between mother and son, sibling love, love of one’s country, and romantic love. Please let’s give a giant round of applause for black love!

thanks applause GIF by MailChimp
[Image description: black man physically gives a “round of applause” by clapping with his arms moving in a circle before gesturing out as the words “thanks” flash across the screen.]
I was absolutely thrilled in the movies when I realized we would get not one but two black love romances. It is so rare for black love to even get a tiny bit of representation and if it is included it is riddled with stereotypes. The black men are portrayed as abusive, unintelligent, deadbeats and the women are portrayed as weak, stupid, and incapable of an independent thought. In Black Panther, we got not only two couples but two different dynamics and types of relationships. A married couple and another on the edge of romance. It was everything.

happy oprah winfrey GIF
[Image description: Oprah screams in excitement, body thrown back, arms lifted]
The chemistry between T’Challa and Nakia is cute, flirty, and just the right amount of subtle to keep you drawn in the entire movie. The best and most underrated love story, however, is between Okoye and W’Kabi.

Yes, I said it! And before you come for me remember that no matter how beautiful a couple Chadwick and Lupita make, Black Panther is going to marry Storm and that is just how the cookie will crumble, sorry not sorry. 

who knows idk GIF
[Image description: Tupac Shakur shrugs defiantly]
Though if they somehow turned Lupita into Storm that would be cool too, though it seems unlikely. Now on to the beautiful and amazing Okoye and W’Kabi. In the beginning, you don’t even realize that these two are a couple. They are two strong independent characters with powerful positions in Wakanda. They seem to respect each other and each has their own separate lives and missions. Then, it is subtly revealed that the two are in fact married.

Their love is not in your face, but subtle and so very strong; it cannot be denied. Click To Tweet

Because of this alone, I think Okoye and W’Kabi take the edge on the best couple in Black Panther. They showcase what a stable and healthy relationship should be. There’s nothing I want more out of love and a future partner than independence. So often we see love and relationships as an opportunity to be dependent on someone and to have someone else completely invested in your happiness. But love should be what Okoye and W’Kabi exemplify: two independent entities, both on individual journeys, who decide to walk their separate journeys together. W’Kabi literally lives on the edges of Wakanda defending the border and training the warrior Rhinos and still, the love between these two is unwavering. So often we praise outward displays of affection and seeing their lack of this was so refreshing. Their love is not in your face, but subtle and so very strong; it cannot be denied. 

The absolute best moment and display of their undying love is during the battle scene. As they both stand on the opposite sides of this battle with their warriors destroying one another, everything seems absolutely torn. During these moments I don’t think you even are conscious of the fact that these two are husband and wife, literally at war with each other. And then Okoye comes upon her husband with her spear and he asks:

“Would you strike me, my love?”

And she says, “For Wakanda, without question.” My heart soared and sank simultaneously.

As W’Kabi lifts his weapon against his wife my insides were raging. I thought, if I have to see this beautiful strong-willed black woman die at the hands of her husband when society leads us to believe that women like her aren’t even capable of being loved let alone married, I’m going to fight and throw things at the screen.

And then he does something so profound that I felt my heart in my mouth and I could physically taste the desire for such love.

He bows to his wife and doesn’t just lay down his weapon, but surrenders it to her in an act of submission. Be still my gentle heart.

girls trip love GIF by TV One
[Image description: Tiffany Haddish screams and shakes arms in relief to the caption “Thank you Jesus!”]
Never in any books, movies, or shows have I ever seen this level of representation in regards to love and strong black women. For a man to submit to a black woman is practically unheard of, let a woman who exemplifies everything the world hates about the black woman. Pride, strength, intelligence, power, and she never holds herself back, not even for her husband. These are the attributes that make her the perfect commander and wife and he loves her unconditionally for them. At that moment he realized his wrongs and did not fight her or still try to take the upper hand. Instead, he accepted his faults like we sometimes have to do. I would say he took it like a man, but honestly, he took it like a woman.

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[image description: Beyonce smirks and flips hair]
This couple is reminding us that it is okay to be wrong and you don’t always have to have the upper hand in a relationship. It is also reminding black women that you never have to make yourself less than. You are perfect just the way you are and are desirable for your strength. There’s a W’Kabi out there for all of us.