Marvel's Black Panther may be breaking box office records now that it's finally in theaters, but even for the film's popularity and the praise it's receiving for not just cultural representation but for its strong female characters, there have been some complaints that Black Panther missed a huge opportunity for LGBTQ inclusion.
While Black Panther may not have given Okoye (Danai Gurira) a LGBTQ relationship as has been represented in comics, the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe may have set up for one in a sequel.
Warning: spoilers for Marvel's Black Panther below!
In Roxane Gay's run of World of Wakanda, Dora Milaje warriors Ayo (played by Florence Kasumba in Black Panther) and Aneka are shown to be in a lesbian relationship. In the movie, Aneka doesn't appear, but Okoye has a similar demeanor to the character. However, it's established that she's in a relationship with W'Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya), the head of security for Wakanda's Border Tribe and T'Challa's (Chadwich Boseman) best friend. When W'Kabi sides with Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) in opposition to both T'Challa and Okoye when she chooses Wakanda over the Killmonger's claim to the throne, that relationship comes to an end.
This change in relationship status for Okoye definitely opens the door for the Dora Milaje warrior to enter a relationship with Ayo in a possible Black Panther 2. It's something that a rumored deleted scene may already be hinting at. A report by Vanity Fair's Joanna Robinson claims that in an early cut of Black Panther, a scene existed where Okoye and Ayo share a flirtatious moment with the women grinning and telling each other they each look good. While that alone isn't enough to establish a relationship or even a hint of one, if it were to make it to an extended version of the film it would at least provide baseline for the two characters the movie could develop into an open LGBTQ relationship, one that might be more groundbreaking as audiences would see it unfold naturally up on the big screen.
Black Panther opens in theaters on February 16th. It's followed by Avengers: Infinity War on May 4th, Ant-Man and the Wasp on July 6th, Captain Marvel on March 8, 2019, the fourth Avengers movie on May 3, 2019, the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 5, 2019, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2020.