Marvel fans continue to herald the progressiveness of Black Panther, but the truth is that the film isn’t as diverse as it seems. We have learned that the film’s creators shed a fan-favorite queer storyline during the journey from page to screen.
In April 2017, a writer for Vanity Fair witnessed an early scene from the film hinting at a queer flirtation between two of the women warriors tasked with fighting alongside T’Challa. The writer then speculated that the film was in fact drawing from a queer storyline in the original Marvel comic, The World of Wakanda.
However, Marvel quickly denied any queer romance in Black Panther and then quietly removed the flirtatious scene from the film entirely. And when a ScreenCrush reporter reached out to a Black Panther screenwriter, the writer appeared to confirm that the scene had initially hinted at a queer romance.
At this point in the article, most of y’all Flagrant readers are probably rolling your eyes and thinking, “What else is new?” And you’re right: Big Disney and Marvel movies have continued to let us down with their cowardly queer erasure, thus denying us of queer role models and positive on-screen LGBTQ representation.
But in this case, the straightwashing is more shocking because of Black Panther’s apparent role as the “most diverse movie” in the studio’s history. By leaving out queerness from that label, the studio and its fans are implying that queer and trans movements are simply not as important as other movements on a national level.
The irony is that if there WERE a gay character in Black Panther, most media outlets would just treat it as a casual occurrence so as to appear more accepting and perpetuate the popular heteroliberal notion that sexual orientation is inconsequential to a person’s overall identity.
But we wouldn’t be writing this if that were true.