- Spoilers ahead for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
- In the film, Dora Milaje warriors Aneka and Ayo are in a relationship like their comic counterparts.
- Michaela Coel, who plays Aneka, told Vogue that this is what drew her to the role.
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” introduces the third queer relationship in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In the film — which premiered in theaters this weekend — it’s implied that a new Dora Milaje warrior Aneka (Michaela Coel) has a relationship with veteran Ayo (Florence Kasumba). The audience sees the pair banter with each other early in the movie and during the celebration at the end, we see Aneka kiss Ayo’s forehead and embrace her.
Last month, Marvel newcomer Michaela Coel told Vogue that she was “sold” on her role because they said her character, Aneka, would be queer.
“I thought: I like that, I want to show that to Ghana,” she said, referring to anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the country. “People say, ‘Oh, it’s fine, it’s just politics.’ But I don’t think it is just politics when it affects how people get to live their daily lives. That’s why it felt important for me to step in and do that role because I know just by my being Ghanaian, Ghanaians will come.”
Aneka and Ayo’s relationship originated from a 2017 ‘Black Panther’ comic
Aneka and Ayo’s relationship originates from the Marvel comic run “Black Panther: World of Wakanda,” which focuses on the Dora Milaje, an elite female-only Wakandan military unit. In the run, Aneka is a captain and combat instructor for the Dora Milaje who falls for one of her colleagues, Ayo.
While in the comics their love is forbidden and they must keep it secret, it seems this is not the case in “Wakanda Forever.” However, perhaps due to the size of the movie’s cast, we do not see a lot of public displays of affection by Aneka and Ayo.
One could argue their subtle relationship fits with their characters’ personalities since Dora Milaje are typically reserved. In the first “Black Panther,” we do not see Dora Milaje general Okoye (Danai Gurira) and her husband W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) show any physical affection to each other but they do explicitly call each other “my love,” making their relationship more obvious to audiences.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to have poor representation of queer characters
Disney and Marvel’s track record when it comes to LGBTQ+ characters has not been great so far. Before phase four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the only openly LGBTQ+ character was a side character from “Avengers: Endgame.”
Since then, more characters such as Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) have been officially portrayed as queer, but fans have criticized the representation as shallow.
America Chavez’s parents are revealed to be lesbians in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” however, they only appear for a brief moment in the film. Meanwhile, Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) herself, who identifies as a lesbian in the comics, does wear an LGBTQ+ badge during the movie but the film doesn’t explore her own sexuality.
The biggest form of LGBTQ+ representation came in “Eternals,” which premiered last year, where one of the heroes Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) is married to a man and has the first on-screen gay kiss.
In “Wakanda Forever,” the LGBTQ+ representation is still left in the background of the larger film.