Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” originally included a queer kiss

Michaela Coel, Black Panther, Wakanda Forever, queer, LGBTQ, Ayo, Aneka,
Michaela Coel as Aneka Photo: YouTube screenshot

A scene in Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever featuring a queer kiss was apparently cut from the film.

Ahead of the film’s release last November, fans were thrilled to learn that Michaela Coel had been cast as canonically out comic book character Aneka, a warrior in the franchise’s all-female fighting force, the Dora Milaje. In the comic book series written by both Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay, the character falls in love with fellow warrior Ayo, played in Wakanda Forever by Florence Kasumba.

Coel told Vogue recently that she took the role specifically because she was excited to play a queer African superhero.

But as LGBTQ Nation’s Daniel Villarreal wrote last July, Marvel and parent company Disney’s disappointing track record of queer inclusion in their MCU films left some questions as to how explicitly queer Aneka would be in the film.

Now it’s clear that Marvel and Disney downplayed both Aneka and Ayo’s sexuality in the final cut of the film. Wakanda Forever features just a brief moment when Coel’s character gives Kasuma’s a peck on the forehead. But the original script, which Deadline posted on Friday, included a scene that made the nature of their relationship much clearer.

In the original version, the two characters are at a party at Aneka’s apartment. Aneka kisses Ayo on the cheek. Ayo then plants a more passionate smooch on Aneka’s lips.

The scene was ultimately cut from the film.

This isn’t the first time Disney has disappointed Marvel fans expecting more LGBTQ+ representation. Avengers: Endgame (2019) featured what was touted as the franchise’s first out gay character. But many fans cried foul when they learned that the character was not a recognizable comics character, but rather a glorified extra played by one of the film’s straight directors, Joe Russo, in a single brief scene.

Two years prior, Disney let fans down when the much-touted “exclusively gay moment” in its live-action Beauty and the Beast remake turned out to be a short shot of LeFou (Josh Gad) dancing with another man.

More recently, the studio has seemed more willing to give queer characters increased screen time. Last summer’s Lightyear featured a brief scene in which a lesbian couple shares a chaste kiss, while recent box office bomb Strange World featured a gay main character (voiced by out comedian Jaboukie Young-White) who makes no secret of his crush on another boy.

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