Black Panther: Wakanda Forever's Dora Milaje Combat Training Became An Obsession For Danai Gurira [Exclusive]

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" sees Danai Gurira once again becoming the "bald-headed demon" and Dora Milaje leader, Okoye. You've seen Gurira slicing and dicing zombies; now, she's fighting blue merfolk. They're not *really* mermaids and mermen, though we can certainly hope to someday see an Okoye vs. the Little Mermaid crossover. (Seriously, with Okoye headlining her own Disney+ series, and a new live-action "Little Mermaid" movie on the way, how hard can it be to make that happen?)

No, the merfolk-type people Okoye is battling in "Wakanda Forever" are the fearsome water warriors, the Talokanil, led by Namor (Tenoch Huerta). If Namor himself can be regarded as the General Zod of this equation, then his lieutenants, Namora (Mabel Cadena) and Attuma (Alex Livinalli), might correspond to Ursa and Non, the secondary villains in "Superman II."

In /Film's forthcoming interview with Gurira, she discussed her preparations for Okoye's bridge fight with Attuma in "Wakanda Forever." And she told us they involved some injuries, followed by physical therapy:

"It was very arduously intense to learn that fight. I also incurred some little injuries here and there, so I was dealing with PT. But funnily, PT after an injury can make you stronger in an area than you were before — so it was a very interesting physical journey to get to the point where those fights were in my body. And then I got really maniacal about it — I was wanting to train all the time and I was pushing to get trained and they're like, 'We're not training until Thursday.' I was like, 'No, no, no — I'm coming in tomorrow, which is Tuesday, and I need you to just give me a corner, a mat, and my trainer, and I'm good.'"

'That requires so much drilling, and so much work'

Although Okoye has shown plenty of fighting prowess across both "Black Panther" movies, Attuma is a big bruiser and "Wakanda Forever" builds him up as a formidable foe for her. When she's squaring off against him on the bridge, it feels like she's outmatched and in some serious peril.

To get to the point where she felt ready for their fight scene, Gurira felt she had to go the extra mile, training-wise. She continued:

"I was kind of that person who was a little all over it all the time, because I just really wanted to get to the point where it wasn't a thought and I wasn't thinking when I was doing it. That's where you have to get to by the day. And that requires so much drilling, and so much work, and so much connection to the psychology behind what you're doing in the scene. Eventually, when the film comes out, I'll release some ... there is tape on my phone — I record on my phone every single rehearsal because then I'd go home and study it, show it to my trainer, and deal with my form. So I'm just going to release some of those videos."

Gurira has spoken elsewhere about how her experience on "The Walking Dead" helped prepare her for "Wakanda Forever," and if she ever does release those training videos, it would be interesting to see how they look compared to Okoye and Attuma's onscreen fight and their later Midnight Angel-infused rematch at sea.

Either way, we haven't seen the last of Gurira fighting onscreen, as Okoye's Disney+ series is set to continue her adventures, while Gurira's "Walking Dead" character, Michonne, is also set to return next year in a new six-episode AMC+ miniseries.