Black Panther: Wakanda Forever premiered to monumental success. Now crossing the $3 billion threshold in global sales, the film had the second biggest opening of any other movie in 2022. The film was number one at the box office for multiple weeks and garnered actress Angela Bassett a Golden Globe Award, becoming the first Marvel actor to receive a major acting award. The sequel to the monumental film also followed the recent trend of Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films highlighting queer characters. However, in a released Reddit thread, the original script had a more queer visibility than we saw on the silver screen.
Prior to actor Chadwick Boseman’s passing, director Ryan Coogler had already developed the sequel script to the critically acclaimed Black Panther. But when Boseman died, the Black Panther sequel entered into rewrites.
The version we saw in theaters (and soon on Disney+ in February) was different from the original. However, Reddit user u/IronMan_MarkLXXXV provided one of the original scripts for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on r/MarvelStudiosSpoilers thread on Reddit. Yet, there are noticeable differences in the relationship between Dora Milaje Ayo and Aneka in this script, played by Florence Kasumba and Michaela Coel respectively, versus what we saw on-screen.
In the provided script, there’s a scene in which Ayo, now the general of the Dora Milaje, comes to Aneka’s apartment to reinstate her as a member of the Dora Milaje. Aneka accepts the offer and kisses Ayo on the cheek, to which Ayo responds by kissing Aneka on the lips. Ayo questions if they’re on good terms and Aneka confirms that they are.
Everyone, we missed out on this tender queer moment. Sure, we saw Aneka kiss Ayo on the head in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but the moment in this previous script just hits different.
2022 ushered in the latter half of the MCU’s collection of phase 4 films. With phase 4 came more visibility of queer characters, such as Loki, Valkyrie, America Chavez, and Phastos, as well as queer moments found in Guardians of the Galaxy: Holiday Special, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Eternals.
However, this phase also ushered in plenty of anti-LGBTQ+ pushback. When the Eternals premiered, several Middle Eastern countries prohibited the release of the film unless various queer scenes were cut from the movie. And while Disney, the parent company to Marvel, continues to release more films and shows with queer themes, like Strange World’s teenage queer storyline, there’s still a nuanced selection on how much queerness will be portrayed on-screen.
Well, we want it all. While we can appreciate the queer elements that the MCU is pushing out, we’ll sit and daydream about this tender moment between Ayo and Aneka that could’ve been.