The Woman King Review


Stane Daniels, Contributing Writer

The Woman King came exclusively to theaters in September 2022 and told the story of a group of Agojie, the female warriors of the African Dahomey kingdom during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

           The picture gained attention quickly once it was announced, displaying well-loved actors like Viola Davis, Lashana Lynch, and John Boyega breathing life into characters from a movie full of action, battle, agony, and love. Calling it her “magnum opus,” Viola Davis worked to help create a film that showed nuanced characters with full-fleshed relationships. The film starts with the Dahomean young woman, Nawi (played by Thuso Mbedu), who joins the king’s Agojie because of her refusal to marry a man who she knew would abuse her. It is through this that we meet the valiant general Nanisca (played by Viola Davis), the bold Izogie (played by Lashana Lynch), and other characters whose intertwined relationships contribute to the movie’s success. 

            Training for the Woman King was very intensive for its actresses. Sheila Atim, the actress who plays the warrior Amenza, said to herself during training, “I don’t know if I’m gonna survive this process.” Viola Davis describes how they went through “three hours of martial arts a day, and the workshops included an hour and a half of weights, weapon training, sword play, and various other exhausting activities meant to transform their bodies into those of Agojie warriors. And transform they didthe actresses’ muscular builds were impossible to ignore during the film’s fighting scenes. They became as powerful as the women they were portraying. 

          The Woman King was met with a great deal of positive regard, but there were also many people who felt quite the opposite. A boycott of the movie broke out over a lack of historical accuracy and sentiments of glorifying the Dahomey kingdom, which was known to trade many slaves to Europeans. Many people feel that the movie severely downplayed the Dahomey’s extensive participation in the slave trade. Even Lupita Nyong’o is known to have a similar attitude to this. She was originally cast to play Nawi but turned the role down. It is speculated that she did this for moral reasons. In 2019, she led a documentary about the Agogie called Warrior Women. After researching the victims of the Agogie and the extent they went to, Nyong’o said, “As much as we highlight their strengths, we also have to acknowledge their crimes.” 

          After doing this research, my thoughts about the movie have shifted a bit. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it very captivating, and I enjoyed seeing so many beautiful black women on screen with power absolutely radiating off them. However, the film did cause me to believe that the Agogie were a group of women that solely fought for justice, and history tells us that just isn’t true. This being said, I still think the movie is worth a watch. It has beautiful storytelling, beautiful visuals, and beautiful feelings of empowerment. But one must view it with a grain of salt. 


Andrews-Dyer, Helena. “’The Woman King’ is Viola Davis’ Ultimate Flex.” The Washington Post. 16 Sept. 2022, ( Accessed 13 Oct. 2022. 

“The Woman King (2022) Train Like a Warrior Featurette.” Youtube, uploaded by Filmshow Extra, 23 Aug. 2022, (THE WOMAN KING (2022) | Train Like a Warrior Featurette). Accessed 13 Oct. 2022. 

Dawson, Shannon. “Explainer: Why Are Critics Urging Viewers To Boycott ‘The Woman King’?” Newsone, 19 Sept. 2022, ( 

 Kusiak, Lindsay. “Lupita Nyong’o Likely Turned Down a Role in ‘The Woman King’ for Moral Reasons.” Showbiz Cheatsheet, 2 Oct. 2022, ( Accessed 13 Oct. 2022. 

2022, The Woman King, movie poster, Accessed 13 Oct. 2022, <>. 

2022, Instagram Picture of Viola Davis, Accessed 13 Oct. 2022, < >