Why the rhinos are the real MVP of 'Black Panther'

Okoye is Team Rhino, and you should be too.

Image: Mashable Composite / Marvel Studios

Excited for Black Panther? So are we. Which is why we’re rolling out obsessive coverage with Black Panther Week

Spoilers ahead for Black Panther.

One of the most unexpected joys of Black Panther is how it leaves you with the sudden, overwhelming, impossible urge to get a pet war rhino. And we need to talk about it.

There’s a lot to love, analyze, and discuss about Ryan Coogler’s monumental Marvel feat, so we  understand why this particular aspect of the film’s magic has gone criminally undiscussed. But the Very Good Boy war rhinos of Black Panther deserve their time in the spotlight, too. And we’re here to let them bask in it.

We’re first introduced to said rhinos through W’Kabi, the leader of the Border Tribe, which appears to be responsible for raising and training Wakanda’s domesticated rhinos. From the beginning, their status as Very Good Boys is made abundantly clear. 

They love pets. They’re big lugs with big appetites (#relatable). And, to get real for a moment, in our actual world, the epidemic of rhino poachers has brought several of their species to extinction — which only makes us want to protect and love them harder.

So if you’re like me, your heart probably shattered into a billion pieces when these Very Good Boys returned to the scene as weaponized, armored war rhinos in the final battle. Well, your first reaction was probably, “WHOA HOLY SHIT MECH-RHINOS ARE RAD AF #WAKANDAFOREVER.”

But then your heart shattered, after fully realizing the implications. Because what’s heartbreaking here is seeing these gentle giant souls turned into killers, forced to take part in the deaths of other Wakandans who — in all likelihood — are actually their friends.

The real kicker, though, is how these Very Good Boys are the ones who bring an end to the madness (with the help of Okoye, of course)! Because in the midst of the chaos and destruction, Okoye stands fearlessly in front of her king to protect him against a rampaging rhino that weighs upwards of a ton.

And. He. Stops. To. Lick. Her. He goes against his trainer and says no to hurting mama Okoye.


But for serious: This moment is testament not only to the bond that can take shape between people and animals, but a demonstration of how much much animals can teach us about humanity. Because, sometimes, animals act with more humanity than actual human beings. A literal animal was first to lay down their weapon, so to speak. 

This Very Good Boy interrupted the slaughter of a battle field with an act of affection. And by doing this, he brought W’Kabi to his senses, reminding him that he was fighting his own brothers and sisters. 

That rhino is a goddamn hero. And for that, this Very Good Boy, brave war rhino earns the title of ultimate MVP in Black Panther.

Now, let’s all start a petition to get the rhinos their own spin-off movie, please. Or I guess we can just make do with the LEGO set that clearly understands who the real star of the movie was.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: It should go without saying, but you should never keep IRL rhinos as pets. But you should show your love and appreciation for them by giving, volunteering, and supporting organizations fighting to protect them. You can even virtually adopt your own pet rhino!

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