Black Panther: Wakanda Forever star Michaela Coel says her character’s strangeness was a major reason she accepted the role.
Michaela Coel, who will make her MCU debut as Aneka from the Dora Milaje in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, says it was her character’s strangeness that sold her on the role. To be released next month Wakanda forever is the final film in the MCU’s Phase 4 slate and the sequel to the critically acclaimed 2018 Black Panther from director Ryan Coogler. Ideas for the second film started circulating shortly after the release of the original film. However, Marvel’s plans changed dramatically in the wake of Chadwick Boseman’s tragic passing in 2020. With Marvel opting not to recast T’Challa’s character, Black Panther: Wakanda forever will explore the leaders of the fictional African nation defending their country in the wake of their king’s death.
In the world of Wakanda, the Dora Milaje are an elite group of all-female warriors who serve as both special forces and royal bodyguards. In the 2017 comic book miniseries Black Panther: World of Wakanda, Marvel introduced a strange romance between Dora Milaje combat instructor Aneka and her colleague Ayo. As Aneka’s character makes her live-action debut in Black Panther: Wakanda foreverAyo has been played in the MCU since 2016 by Ugandan actress Florence Kasumba Captain America: Civil War, where she threatened Scarlett Johansson’s famous Black Widow with “Move, or you will be moved.British-born Coel, who is of Ghanaian descent, was cast as Aneka in July last year.
Coel now opens for Fashion about what attracted her to the Black Panther role, and what the implications of her character would mean for the people of Ghana. Like several other African countries, Ghana supports oppressive anti-gay laws and is currently considering a bill that would make coming out as homosexual punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Coel suggests that “why it felt important to me to step in and fill that role.” Check out her comments below:
That sold me on the role, the fact that my character is queer. I thought: I like that, I want to show that to Ghana.
People say, ‘Oh, it’s fine, it’s just politics.’ But I don’t think it’s just politics if it affects how people live their daily lives. That’s why I thought it was important to step into that role, because I know that just because I’m Ghanaian, Ghanaians will come.
Wakanda Forever can make up for Black Panther’s cutscene
While the recording of Aneka in Wakanda forever neatly arranges the introduction of her romance with Ayo, it’s not the first time Marvel has toyed with introducing LGBTQ+ representation into the Black Panther franchisee. Prior to the release of the first film, reports surfaced describing a scene that hinted at a relationship between Ayo and Danai Gurira’s Okoye, though that scene would never make it to the final cut. While the decision to remove this subplot was never fully explained, it looks like Marvel will instead go back and honor the comedic source material with Aneka. Coel’s comments do not reveal whether Aneka and Ayo’s relationship will be explicitly shown in Black Panther: Wakanda Foreverbut it sounds like Aneka’s sexuality might be confirmed outwardly.
Ever since Black Panther‘s release in 2018, the MCU has made strides in increasing its on-screen LGBTQ+ representation with the release of films such as Eternals, Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madness and Thor: Love and Thunder. Now it seems like Black Panther: Wakanda forever may make up for the decision to do away with the use of queer themes in the original film. Given the cultural significance of the first film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever can serve as an important platform for advancing queer representation in both the MCU franchise and popular culture as a whole.
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