Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now in cinemas and even it can’t escape the crushing weight of expectation. While the film is entertaining and moving, particularly in how it handles Chadwick Boseman’s death and Shuri’s journey in the wake of it, the film has to fit into the MCU’s greater plot machinations — and its ‘family-friendly’ values.
For what feels like forever, this ethos has meant that while we can watch Iron Man blow people up in a desert, we can’t see two dude’s kisses. Nor can we say the word ‘libido’ or without it needing a punchline.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever does a lot very well, but it doesn’t do one thing that Marvel has vocally set out to do: queer representation. Besides Eternals, which featured a (which was hardly ‘inherent to the story’ as Marvel has been consistently patting itself on the back for much less.
At this point in the MCU canon, which now comprises ten thousand movies and four million episodes of TV (ballpark figure), it would be better if the Marvel execs simply owned up to the fact that they don’t really want to include LGBTQ+ folks in their films.
Ahead of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, about the importance of queer, Black representation. And we’re with her! We want more! But after seeing Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, it’s clear that this film isn’t it.
The queer representation touted by Michaela Coel in amounts to her character Aneka planting one brief kiss on the forehead to Kasumba’s Ayo. Until this moment, which comes in the literal last few moments of the film, there is not a single whisper that they are lesbians.