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Marvel Straight-Washes Queer Women in ‘Black Panther’ Film

Lesbians? What lesbians? Just gals being pals.
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Superheroes have gotten queerer than ever.

Power Rangers announced that the yellow ranger would be queer. DC comics recently confirmed that Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are queer. And let’s not forget Marvel’s America Chavez, a fiery queer Latina superhero that Gina Rodriguez has her eye on.

Unfortunately, when it comes to queer superheroes, it’s two step forwards and one step back. Marvel recently announced that two queer main characters from Black Panther will be straight in the films.

Black Panther is a hit comic book series about T’Challa, the king and protector of the (fictional) African country of Wakanda. The series is notable not just for its strong racial diversity, but also for having powerful queer women of color at the forefront.

Black Panther: World of Wakanda delves into the relationship of two female Wakandan protectors, Ayo and Aneka. Ayo and Aneka are recruited into an elite task force, but find their relationship taking center stage instead.

As the official website says,

What happens when your nation needs your hearts and minds, but you already gave them to each other?”

Yeah. That’s pretty gay.

The Black Panther movie is set to be released in February 2018. Movie footage recently dropped that appeared to continue the relationship of Ayo and Aneka.

In a certain scene of the trailer, Ayo (Florence KasumbaCaptain America: Civil War) and Okoye (Danai GuriraWalking Dead) are dancing.

After looking Ayo up and down flirtatiously, practically drooling, Okoye says, “You look good.”

“You look better,” Ayo.

Okyo looks smug as she says, “I know.”

Yeah. That’s pretty gay.

Unfortunately, Marvel doesn’t seem to think so. In response to a Vanity Fair article about the footage, a Marvel representative interceded to say that, despite all of the flirtatious lesbianness of that scene, Ayo and Okoye would be totally straight in the film.

According to the representative, that particular storyline didn’t make the cut. Even though the women are flirting in the released footage. Are we supposed to believe that they’re flirting platonically?

Sadly, this is an example of Hollywood straight-washing queer characters in order to make the film more attractive to wider audiences. With the film already centered on characters of color, the representative didn’t want to push any more boundaries.

If you’d like to read the actual queer love story, pick up the comics here.

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J. Marie graduated from Duke University with a degree in International Relations and dreams of being a creative writer--dreams she's now realizing as a musical theatre writer in NYC. She's passionate about global black identities, black representation in media, and leather-bound notebooks. She also loves backpacking through a new country at a moment's notice, and speaks Spanish, Swahili and Standard Arabic.

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