There’s a new queer character coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As a part of Marvel’s huge slate of announcements at this year’s San Diego Comic Con, we got a bunch of new information on the upcoming sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, including confirmation on who new MCU actor Michaela Coel will be playing!
After a year of rumors that Coel (I May Destroy You) might be playing Storm or other characters, the rumor that turned out to be true is that she will play Aneka, a queer woman and member of the Dora Milaje.
In the comics, Aneka and Ayo, another Dora Milaje member, played by Florence Kasumba, start out as competitive rivals in the elite Dora Milaje. But soon, the fighting turned to flirting and the two became a couple.
The official description for the film reads: “In Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright), M’Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the Dora Milaje (including Florence Kasumba), fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda.”
We know that one of those “intervening world powers” will be Namor, played by Tenoch Huerta. In the film, Atlantis is Mesoamerican-inspired, and Huerta is the second Mexican MCU hero after America Chavez was introduced in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness earlier this year.
We don’t know how much of the movie will be dedicated to showing Aneka and Ayo’s relationship, and honestly, we aren’t getting our hopes up. Marvel has been introducing queer characters to the MCU over the last few years, and most examples have been underwhelming.
First came Phastos, a gay and married member of The Eternals played by Brian Tyree Henry. While his character was shown to be married to a man and with a family, there wasn’t much to it other than that, and the character was a side player in the film.
Then came America Chavez, who was supposed to be the MCU’s first lesbian superhero in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but had her queerness erased except for a couple of pins on her jacket. She also talked about having two moms in the movie.
Most recently, fans had been waiting with excitement for years after Tessa Thompson said that her character Valkyrie would be searching for a queen in Thor: Love and Thunder. While the movie ended up being by far the queerest MCU project yet and talked about sexuality in new ways for the universe, Valkyrie did not find her queen and is still single.
Hopefully, Marvel will start breaking this trend of under delivering when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation. Maybe Ayo and Aneka will be a step in the right direction.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever comes out in theaters November 11, 2022.