In Ryan Coogler's Black Panther, Lupita Nyong'o's Nakia is the target of the titular hero's romantic affections -- but that wasn't always the case. Like any blockbuster film, the project's script went through many changes as it made its way through development, and according to co-writer Joe Robert Cole there was a point when the Marvel Comics character Monica Lynne was included in the story. While he couldn't quite pin the name, he recently explained,
There might have been a few characters that we early on thought about incorporating... I'm spacing on the name of it. We thought about a different love interest for Panther at one point very early on... She's the singer. There was a different love interest from the canon that we thought about. It was just a part of a conversation. But we ultimately ended up not playing with that character.
Joe Robert Cole couldn't come up with a name on the spot, but research into Black Panther's past for singers that he dated reveal that he was referencing Monica Lynne -- a romantic interest for T'Challa introduced to Marvel Comics back in 1970. I had asked Cole about characters that they thought about including in the script that didn't make cut, and while it doesn't sound like there were multiple drafts featuring Monica Lynne, her first live-action appearance was apparently on the table for a minute.
T'Challa first met Monica Lynne in Avengers #73, saving her from an attack by a gang known as the Sons of the Serpent. She is an American jazz singer who eventually became Black Panther's fiancé, but their engagement was eventually broken off. Considering the fact that the film doesn't actually have any scenes with T'Challa in America, creating that relationship in the Marvel Cinematic Universe probably would have resulted in a very different film than the one we got. Considering the quality of the final product, and the wonderful chemistry between Lupita Nyong'o and Chadwick Boseman, it seems like they ultimately made the proper choice.
Obviously Black Panther couldn't squeeze absolutely every major character from the comics into the debut solo film, but the good news is that there will be plenty more chances to introduce them in the future. The success of Ryan Coogler's film means that we will probably continue to see many Black Panther movies made in the future, and each of them will provide the chance for key figures. Hell, Coogler might even be able to find space to include Patriot.
Black Panther is now in theaters.