Black Panther is earning no shortage of acclaim at the moment. Not only is it smashing box office records left, right and centre, but its predominantly black cast, strong storytelling and sharp direction have all been applauded. If there is one fly in the ointment, though, it’s that the movie reportedly cut out the opportunity to include the first ever LGBT romance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As we previously reported, there was originally a flirtatious moment between Danai Gurira’s Okoye and Ayo (Florence Kasumba) in the film. When it came to the theatrical cut of Black Panther, however, this sequence was nowhere to be seen. In fact, in its place was a hinted romance between Okoye and Daniel Kaluuya’s W’Kabi instead.
By the end of the film, though, it’s fair to say any feelings Okoye had for W’Kabi have been extinguished. The character starts out as a loyal friend to T’Challa but soon switches sides with the revolutionary Killmonger when the king is believed to be dead. This naturally puts the two of them at ideological odds. Okoye and W’Kabi even engage in a fierce battle at the climax, before the latter surrenders when he realizes he has no way to win.
So, with this relationship in tatters, perhaps Black Panther 2 will revisit the deleted chemistry between the two kickass members of the Dora Milaje? It is possible, as there’s a precedent in the comics books for this. Roxane Gay’s World of Wakanda depicts Ayo in a relationship with Aneka, who fills a similar role to Okoye in Black Panther.
If this happened, the pair would be the first explicitly gay characters in an MCU movie. Previously, Tessa Thompson confirmed that she considered her character Valkyrie to be bisexual, which was followed up by news that a deleted scene from Thor: Ragnarok would have hinted as much. It’s clear that the franchise is headed towards something here – but will Black Panther 2 prove to be the landmark moment? Time will tell.