Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will introduce the legendary LGBTQ+ hero Aneka.
A former leader of the Dora Milaje – the team of elite warrior women sworn to protect Wakanda – Aneka has been romantically linked in the comics with Florence Kasumba’s recurring character Ayo.
Not including her upcoming appearance in the sequel, Ayo has starred in four MCU projects to date: Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
It has been confirmed that Michaela Coel, who was announced for Black Panther 2 last year, will play Aneka.
The actress is best known for her creating and starring in the E4 comedy Chewing Gum and the HBO drama I May Destroy You.
For the universally acclaimed latter, Coel became the first Black woman to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special. She also won the BAFTA for Best Actress.
Wakanda Forever will see the return of Letitia Wright as Shuri, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Winston Duke as M’Baku, Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross and Angela Bassett as Ramonda.
Additionally, Dominique Thorne and Tenoch Huerta will make their MCU debuts as Riri Williams/Ironheart, a genius inventor who creates an Iron Man-inspired suit of armor, and Namor, the ruler of the underwater nation Talocan.
Following the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman in 2020, it was announced that the role of King T’Challa would not be recast and that the film would honour the titular star’s legacy.
A synopsis for Wakanda Forever reads: “Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M’Baku, Okoye and the Dora Milaje, fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death.
— Black Panther (@theblackpanther) July 24, 2022
“As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with the help of War Dog Nakia and Everett Ross and forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda.”
In 2021, the Marvel Cinematic Universe welcomed its first major LGBTQ+ character as they confirmed Tom Hiddleston’s beloved Asgardian trickster, Loki, identifies as bisexual.
The MCU later introduced their first-ever gay superhero in Eternals with Brian Tyree Henry’s Phastos, who also shared a passionate kiss with his husband Jack (Haaz Sleiman) – another first for the franchise.
Although Thor: Love and Thunder disappointed audiences with their depiction of Valkryie’s (Tesse Thompson) queerness, all of the above confirmed that Marvel executives are committed to telling more non-heteronormative stories.
At the Black Widow fan premiere in Hollywood, Victoria Alonso – Marvel’s Executive Vice President of Film Production – was asked if this was a sign of “queer things to come”.
“It takes time, we have so many stories that we can tell,” she told Variety
“We will empower those that are. We’re not changing anything. We’re just showing the world who these people are, who these characters are… There’s a lot that we have coming up that I think will be representative of the world of today.
“We’re not going to nail it in the first movie or the second movie or third movie, or the first show or second show, but we will do our best to consistently try to represent.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the final film in Phase Four of the MCU, is scheduled to be released 11 November. Watch the trailer here or below.