New information brought to light that Marvel Studios' first on-screen lesbian kiss was cut from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Marvel Studios, and in turn the MCU, has become more and progressive over the past few years, and Black Panther 2 was a direct result of that effort.
Much to the dismay of some, Marvel's super-powered franchise is more inclusive than it ever has been. The MCU has even been awarded for its on-screen representation, as it introduces heroes of diverse backgrounds, gender identities, and sexual orientations.
However, it seems as though the studio may have nixed one recent opportunity for an on-screen first that was set to be a part of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
A Cut Kiss in Black Panther 2
According to a Black Panther: Wakanda Forever script that has sprung up online, Marvel Studios' first lesbian kiss was cut from the final cut of the film.
The script, which was posted on r/Screenwriting on Reddit, features Florence Kasumba's Ayo sharing a kiss with her partner Aneka (played by Michaela Coel) at the end of the movie.
The deleted scene takes place in Aneka's Wakanadan apartment, as Ayo offers to "[restore the warrior] as a Dora [Milaje]."
From there, "Aneka gives [Ayo] a kiss on the cheek," to which Kasumba's Wakandan warrior responds by "[kissing] Aneka on the lips."
INT. ANEKA’S APARTMENT - RIVER PROVINCE - DAY
A house party is in full swing. Aneka, dressed in casual clothing opens a door, revealing Ayo in uniform.
Ayo takes in the revelers behind Aneka.
Ayo: “I am here on behalf of the Elders. They would like to offer you restoration as a Dora.”
Aneka: “The Elders? That is kind of them, something tells me I had a strong advocate... (in Xhosa) I accept.”
Ayo (in Xhosa): “I know.”
Aneka gives her a kiss on the cheek, Ayo kisses Aneka on the lips.
The final cut of the film ultimately saw the pair share a kiss but it was one where Aneka kisses Ayo on the forehead during the final battle with the Talocanil. That scene looks a little different in the script as well, not featuring a kiss at all.
Instead, the couple shares a cute moment during the fight where Aneka yells “Duck!” to her partner, who avoids an attacking Talocanil warrior. Ayo reponds by looking at Aneka and saying “Thanks my love,” with no kiss shared between the two:
EXT. DECK - ROYAL SEA LEOPARD - DAY
Nakia lands on the deck, draws her RINGBLADES and begins fighting a Talocanil Warrior. Ayo and Aneka fight back to back, ravaging Talocanil.
Ayo ducks and Aneka takes down an attacking Talocanil warrior behind her.
Ayo (SUBTITLE): “Thanks my love.”
The Aneka and Ayo romance was something that had been teased before Wakanda Forever's release. Ayo actress Michaela Coel previously noted that the pair's "forbidden affair" was something she was excited to explore.
She remarked that she knew how big a deal this was to show this kind of "representation on a very mainstream platform."
Why Was Black Panther 2's Kiss Cut?
In a franchise that has been all about pushing things forward and embracing diversity as of late, it seems a little suspect that this sequence was ultimately cut from Wakanda Forever's final cut.
It's one thing to have a lesbian couple present on-screen, but it is another to have them embrace in a kiss. It feels like a small thing, but it is moments like that that go a long way in helping to destigmatize the idea of non-hetero relationships.
For the most part, Marvel Studios has done a pretty solid job at reflecting the wonderfully diverse real world. The franchise's first openly gay hero came by way of Phastos in Eternals, Loki has been revealed to be bisexual, and the series even recently cast its first non-binary actor.
So, what's the big deal? What was this kiss cut?
It is not like this scene was cut altogether. Fans got a very similar one towards the end of the film where they get a final moment between the two, with Aneka rejoining the Dora Milaje.
It's a mystery why the moment of romance was ultimately cut, moviegoers should just hope this is a one-time thing and is not a sign of any greater mandate change at Marvel Studios.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever starts streaming on Disney+ on February 1.