Spoilers ahead for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe recently expanded in a big way, thanks to the long-awaited release of Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The movie is alredy a critical and box office hit, expanding the world of the titular fictional country and crowning a new Panther in the process. The movie also featured a brief moment of queer representation, featuring Ayo and Aneka. But was there more to Black Panther 2’s LGBTQ+ moment?
I May Destroy You star Michaela Coel made her MCU debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, playing Dora Milaje member Aneka. She appears early in the movie’s runtime, and in the end it’s revealed that she and Ayo (Florence Kasumba) were actually a couple. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, where Aneka kisses Ayo’s forehead, with the new Wakanda Genreal replying saying “Thank you, my love.”
While this was a sweet moment in Black Panther 2’s ending sequence, it definitely took me by surprise wen seeing my screening of the Marvel blockbuster. Besides the opening battle on with the Dora Milaje, the Ayo and Aneka didn’t have any scenes with each other. And while they banter about the daggers given by Shuri, it doesn’t seem like they’re anything but colleagues. Which has me wondering if there was more to this plot line that perhaps got left on the cutting room floor. If not, it feels like the scene was added as an afterthought. I even saw Wakanda Forever a second time, looking out for any clues to no avail.
Aneka had fairly limited screentime, and her motivations/background weren’t always clear. She helps Shuri in trying to defend Wakanda during Namor’s attack, and eventually join Okoye as a super powerful Midnight Angel. But given the somewhat disjointed nature of these scenes, I assume more what shot and ultimately cut during the movie’s editing process. Maybe we would have gotten to see Aneka and Ayo’s home before the floods destroyed it, where their romantic relationship would have been made clear. Alas, we’ll just have to wait for word by the cast/crew or until the movie arrives on Blu-ray complete with deleted scenes.
Depite how brief and innocent the moment shared between Aneka and Oye was in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s theatrical cut, it still resuled in the movie being banned from certain countries. This is a challenge the studio has faced with other projets, refusing to edit out sequences from Eternals featuring Phastos and his husband. Although the scene in Ryan Coogler’s sophomore Marvel movie is so quick it’s almost surprising that anyone has taken umbrage with it.
There’s been a ton of conversation about making franchises like the MCU a more diverse place, as we learn more about the power of onscreen representation. And indeed, there have been more queer characters in the shared universe, albeit sometimes in small roles. We recently got a queer superhero with Phastos in Eternals, and also featured a same-sex couple with American Chavez’s mothers in Doctor Strange 2. Loki was also confirmed as queer in his Disney+ show. Did you not catch these scenes? You might want to re-watch the Marvel movies in order.
Black Panther 2 was the final movie installment in Phase Four, and the next upcoming Marvel movie hittinb theaters is Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania in February. In the meantime, check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. We’ll just have to wait and see how LGBTQ+ representation plays ou in Phase Five.
Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.
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