Black Panther co-writer Joe Robert Cole has addressed Marvel's decision not to feature a lesbian romance in the film.
Last year, there were reports that Black Panther would be borrowing scenes and plots from Ta-Nehisi Coates's World of Wakanda series. The now-canceled comic explored the fictional African nation of Wakanda, focusing in upon members of the Dora Milaje. One central subplot was a lesbian relationship, and fans wondered if Marvel would finally give the MCU its first big-screen lesbian romance. That idea was reinforced when Vanity Fair described a scene in which Okoye and fellow Dora Milaje Ayo seemed to be flirting. Marvel chose to bite the bullet, announcing that this wouldn't be a subplot in Black Panther.
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It was a disappointing decision, and now Screen Crush has quizzed co-writer Joe Robert Cole on the decision. While Cole did confirm that scripts initially featured a romance between Okoye and Ayo, he then gave a rather muddled explanation for why that was cut.
"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."
Cole's account suggests that the relationship was never a major arc in the film. Instead, it may be that the movie featured a number of minor scenes that hinted at a relationship between Okoye and Ayo. Marvel simply chose to take the film in a different direction, and played out another relationship instead.
Marvel fans are unlikely to be entirely satisfied with this explanation. The sad truth is that Marvel has a poor history in terms of handling LGBT characters. James Gunn, for example, suggested that there may actually be a gay character in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2; he simply hasn't been interested in exploring many romantic themes in the films. It's a similar approach to J.K. Rowling's handling of Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise. Although Rowling insists the character is canonically gay, the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them films seem unlikely to explore Dumbledore's homosexuality.
Black Panther is a major milestone in terms of representation in the MCU. On this matter, though, Marvel seems to have dropped the ball.
Source: Screen Crush
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019