Marvel Studios’ Black Panther stirs controversy with the removal of gay flirtation scene…
Black Panther, starring Chadwick Boseman and directed by Ryan Coogler, has blown audiences and critics away since it opened to universal acclaim. But, despite the hype, Disney-Marvel’s big budget film missed the opportunity to showcase a gay storyline.
The movie was originally supposed to feature a gay storyline between two members of the Dora Milage, the all-female special forces of Wakanda who serve as Black Panther’s bodyguards.
Last April, Joanna Robinson from Vanity Fair was shown an early scene from the film, and wrote about the flirtation between two of the members, Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Ayo (Florence Kasumba).
“In the rough cut of this Black Panther scene, we see Gurira’s Okoye and Kasumba’s Ayo swaying rhythmically back in formation with the rest of their team,” she said. “Okoye eyes Ayo flirtatiously for a long time as the camera pans in on them.”
Eventually, she says, appreciatively and appraisingly, ‘You look good.’ Ayo responds in kind. Okoye grins and replies, ‘I know.’”
Upon release, fans noticed that the gay storyline had been completely removed from the film, with Okoye depicted as in a relationship with Daniel Kaluuya’s character, W’Kabi.
Karumba spoke to Vulture about her role when the film hit the big screen and confirmed that she filmed the flirtation scene with Gurira. “If the makers would have wanted everyone to see the scene, it would have been in the movie,” Karumba said, noting that additional scenes also did not make the final product, now in theaters. “What their reason is, I can’t tell you, because nobody told me about whether [that scene is] in or not.”
In an interview with ScreenCrush, Joe Robert Cole – Black Panther’s screenwriter – responded to the controversy saying: “I think the short answer is yes. I know that there were quite a few conversations around different things, different directions with different characters, and characters that we may have.”
“We thought, ‘Well, maybe we’ll work it this way with an arc or work it that way with an arc.’”
Cole continued: “The scene you’re talking about, I don’t remember. 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. We didn’t like, pull out a full thread of some theme.
“But your friend quite possibly could be right, or I’m maybe having a brain fart here and just can’t remember.”
Fans were, of course, disappointed. Especially since last year, a scene which touched upon Valkryie’s bisexuality was cut from Thor: Ragnarok.
You can watch the action-packed trailer for Black Panther below.