Marvel films have fundamentally changed the film industry forever. For nearly a decade, they’ve delivered the best of cinematic quality and action-packed fun. Not to mention, they’ve became the blueprint for movie success.
Despite all of the MCU’s best qualities, they’ve failed to promote diversity and inclusivity in their films. In the past, Marvel has been criticized for not featuring enough black and queer characters. The MCU’s upcoming projects, though, seem to ring a different tune.
Recently, it was just rumored that the upcoming sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will feature a lesbian romance between two members of king T’Challa’s all-female militant group, the Dora Milaje. According to sources, Kasumba Florence’s character Ayo will engage in a relationship with Michaela Coel, who will play the new role of Aneka.
In the Marvel comics, Coel’s Aneka was a former captain of the Dora Milaje. However, she ultimately lost the title in the end. Aneka had murdered a chieftain who went around terrorizing women. Shortly after her supposed act of treason, the Marvel character and Ayo became vigilantes, calling themselves the Midnight Angels. Naturally, they developed a budding romance.
Being on the run and fighting the man can honestly give anyone the feels. It’s been a long time coming for Marvel to deliver fans queer characters who are out and proud. Not to mention, fans will finally see a meaningful blossom between two strong black lesbian characters, all while kicking some serious tail.
In all honestly, actress Kasumba Florence’s character Ayo is well overdue for a love interest. In fact, Ayo was supposed to hook up with Danai Gurira’s Okoye in the first Black Panther film. During an interview with Vulture, Florence confirmed a scene from the first film referencing her sexuality but ultimately didn’t make the final cut.
Apparently, that scene featured Okoye and Ayo flirting with each other. Vanity Fair showed the earlier draft written as; “In the rough cute of this Black Panther scene, we see Gurira’s Okoye and Kasumba’s Ayo swaying rhythmically back in formation with the rest of their team. Okoye eyes Ayo flirtatiously for a long time as the camera pans in on them.
Eventually, she says, appreciatively and appraisingly, ‘You look good.’ Ayo responds in kind. Okoye grins and replies, ‘I know.” It’s a shame that the scene never saw the light of day in the first Black Panther film.
Unfortunately, the creators behind one of Marvel’s biggest films had no valuable explanation for why the scene didn’t make it onto the final script. During an interview with Screen Rush, Black Panther’s co-writer Joe Robert Cole was asked if he had any intention of drawing from the original source material, the Marvel comic The World of Wakanda.
In the comic, Ayo’s character was originally in a relationship with the queer character, Aneka. However, the former Dora Milaje never made it onto the first film. Instead, the creators had replaced Aneka with Okoye, as Ayo’s love interest.
However, Cole’s response to sticking with the comic wasn’t a great one. “I think the short answer is yes. I know that there were quite a few conversations around different things, different directions with different characters, and characters that we may have. We thought, ‘Well, maybe we’ll work it this way with an arc or work it that way with an arc.”
In other words, Marvel is playing the ‘political’ card by answering the question without revealing anything. In conclusion of his statement, Cole even acted oblivious to the interviewer’s question, stating that he didn’t recall what they’d been referring to. However, the fans weren’t having it.
Cole’s aloofness during the interview led fans to call the cut scene between Okoye and Ayo ‘lesbian erasure.’ Additionally, the interview with the screenwriter led to a movement around the hashtag, “#LetAyoHaveAGirlfriend.” Furthermore, the hashtag echoes fans frustrations with Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War film, where they started the #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend campaign.
The fans may not have received a black queer romance in the first Black Panther, but certainly will in the sequel. In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, fans can expect to see Ayo and Aneka’s love story finally play out on the big screen. Talk about black girl magic! The film is set to hit theaters July 8, 2022. Be sure to mark your calendars!