Black Panther’s screenwriter has opened up about the lesbian romance which was cut from the film.
When the film was announced, fans were excited by the prospect of Okoye and Ayo, two of the title character’s bodyguards, getting together as Ayo and fellow female warrior Aneka do in the comics.
And these hopes were encouraged by reports that an early screening of the film featured Walking Dead star Danai Gurira’s Okoye staring at Ayo flirtatiously as the two danced.
The enthusiasm provoked by this turned to frustration and claims of LGBT erasure after Marvel quickly denied the conclusions drawn by those who watched the scene.
A Marvel spokesperson reached out to clearly state that “the nature of the relationship between Danai Gurira’s Okoye and Florence Kasumba’s Ayo in Black Panther is not a romantic one.”
This sparked a movement around the hashtag #LetAyoHaveAGirlfriend, similar to the #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend campaign last May prompted by the release of Captain America: Civil War.
Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful.
In fact, in the final version of the film, Okoye is depicted as straight and in a relationship with W’Kabi, played by Daniel Kaluuya.
He explained that presenting Ayo and Okoye as a lesbian couple was a possibility at one stage.
“I know that there were quite a few conversations around different things, different directions with different characters, and characters that we may have,” he said.
“We thought: ‘Well, maybe we’ll work it this way with an arc or work it that way with an arc.’
But disappointingly, he failed to even recall the clip in which the two warriors exchange meaningful glances.
“The scene you’re talking about, I don’t remember,” he said.
“I can’t remember the exact exchange you’re talking about, but I think it was really brief. I’m not sure.
“I know that it was not – there wasn’t some major theme through that we were looking to explore with that in terms of the story.
Danai Gurira (Getty)
“We didn’t like, pull out a full thread of some theme.”
Roxane Gay, who co-wrote the Black Panther comic book series World of Wakanda, was not invited to the Marvel film’s Los Angeles premiere.
On Twitter, she said: “My feelings are real hurt that I didn’t get an invite to the Black Panther premiere. I mean goddamn Marvel. Goddamn.”
She added: “And I mean. It’s fine. I’M not fancy. Just admitting that my lil feelings were hurt.”