Black Panther 2 Accused Of “Queer Baiting”

Black Panther 2 has been accused of appealing to LGBTQ audiences by promoting Michaela Coel's queer character, but minimizing her actual presence.

By Matthew Creith | Published

As the Marvel Cinematic Universe prepares to close out their Phase Four of movies and television shows this year, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will debut in theaters to an eager audience later this week. The sequel to the overwhelmingly popular 2018 Chadwick Boseman film Black Panther, the new movie continues the story of the fictional Wakandan people, with most of the actors from the first movie reprising their roles. However, We Got This Covered reports that Black Panther 2 is being accused of queer baiting with the queer character of Aneka, portrayed in the sequel by British actor Michaela Coel.

Michaela Coel took on the role of Aneka in Black Panther 2 because the character is described as a captain of the Wakandan military forces, but also because the character was described to her as a member of the queer community. Just as Disney did with its newer Star Wars films, queer characters tend to be sprinkled into large franchise movies rather than making them outright leads of the project. We Got This Covered went on to say that film critic Grace Randolph spoke about Coel’s character on her YouTube channel and noted Marvel’s lack of a strong romantic relationship shown between Aneka and Ayo (Florence Kasumba) with simply a “blink-and-you-miss-it kiss.”

new black panther
Black Panther 2

Not the first time that any of Marvel or Disney’s projects have been accused of baiting the queer community with minor characters that display a hint of sexual identity, Black Panther 2 joins a long list of similar cinematic flair. Marvel’s 2021 epic Eternals showcased Brian Tyree Henry’s performance as Phastos, the first superhero in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film to be depicted as gay. The franchise also attempted a similar feat in 2019’s Avengers: End Game when director Joe Russo embodied a non-superhero minor character in a grief support group dealing with the loss of his loved one after Thanos caused half the population of Earth to vanish.

Disney had similar issues with its Star Wars franchise, particularly in the run-up to the premiere of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Noted as being one of the first movies in the series to feature a gay character, the last few moments of the film highlighted a very brief moment when two women of the Resistance embraced in a kiss just as the camera pans away. The shot is so minor that most moviegoers didn’t recognize the kiss at first viewing, even though Disney had touted the achievement prior to the film’s debut.

Black Panther 2 will release in theaters on November 11, four years after Black Panther debuted, and following the events surrounding the death of star Chadwick Boseman in 2020. With early reviews pouring in for the sequel, audiences will soon get a chance to see if the film lives up to the hype of its predecessor and if Michael Coel’s character is as small as what is currently being reported. For what it’s worth, Rotten Tomatoes currently ranks Black Panther: Wakanda Forever with a 91% on its Tomatometer based on 107 critics’ reviews.