We have spoken extensively here at Bleeding Cool about Marvel’s problem with LGBTQ+ representation. It’s one of the triggers they just can’t seem to pull. We have the concept of “Schrödinger’s Gay”, in which a character’s sexuality isn’t made explicit, thus someone might be LGBTQ+ and we just don’t know it yet (hint: that is not representation, because we live in a society where people are preemptively perceived straight unless explicitly told otherwise). Or we have the lovely Tessa Thompson saying that her character of Valkyrie is bisexual and she was playing her as a bisexual, but having no evidence of that on screen (hint: this is also not representation, because LBGTQ+ fans have dealt with being shoved to the subtext for a long, long time).
Fans were hoping that Black Panther could be the one to break the mold, and they got even more excited when Vanity Fair talked about a flirty scene between Florence Kasumba‘s Ayo (the “move or you will be moved” badass from Captain America: Civil War) and Danai Gurira’s Okoye. Marvel, however, came out and denied this possible romance based off of the World of Wakanda comics. ScreenCrush recently asked Black Panther writer Joe Robert Cole about the scene that Vanity Fair saw and whether that dynamic was ever in play. His answer started off fine and then goes a bit off the rails.
“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.’
The scene you’re talking about, I don’t remember. I can’t remember the exact exchange you’re talking about, but I think it was really brief. I’m not sure. I know that it was not – there wasn’t some major theme through that we were looking to explore with that in terms of the story. We didn’t like, pull out a full thread of some theme. But your friend quite possibly could be right, or I’m maybe having a brain fart here and just can’t remember.”
It sounds like Marvel played with the idea but decided not to go ahead with it. Perhaps Okoye is bisexual because (VERY MINOR SPOILERS)…….. she is depicted as in a relationship with Daniel Kaluuya’s W’Kabi, as per sources who have seen the movie. If Black Panther hits half as hard as it’s looking it will and if Captain Marvel blows everyone away like Wonder Woman did, perhaps Marvel will finally decide to move past just gender and racial diversity.
Summary: T’Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.
Black Panther, directed Ryan Coogler, stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Martin Freeman. It will be released on February 16th.