Michaela Coel Explains What Drew Her To Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Over the last few years, the MCU has gradually became a more inclusive space for LGBTQ representation, with several queer characters joining its films and TV shows. Next month, another one will make her live-action debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. While speaking with Vogue, Michaela Coel confirmed that her new character in the sequel is queer, much like her comic book counterpart.

Coel’s Emmy-winning work on HBO’s I May Destroy You makes her one of Wakanda Forever’s most prominent new additions. However, her role in the film is significant for a number of other reasons as well. Coel portrays Aneka, a revered captain and combat instructor for the Dora Milaje. As fans have seen in the trailers, she stands out by wearing the blue armor of the Midnight Angels. Aneka also falls in love with Florence Kasumba’s Ayo, a member of the Dora Milaje who has been popping up in the MCU since Captain America: Civil War hit theaters in 2016. But as Coel explains, her character’s LGBTQ status was the key to securing her involvement.

“That sold me on the role, the fact that my character’s queer,” revealed Coel. “I thought: I like that, I want to show that to Ghana.”

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Being of Ghanaian descent, Coel is well-aware that the country’s government has a poor track record when it comes to LGBTQ rights. In fact, its parliament is currently debating a new bill that would pass some of the most oppressive anti-gay laws in African history. Some of these would make identifying as gay a second-degree felony that is punishable by five years in prison. That’s why Coel felt embracing Aneka’s sexuality onscreen was an important message to send to her people.

“People say, ‘Oh, it’s fine, it’s just politics,’” said Coel. “But I don’t think it is just politics when it affects how people get to live their daily lives. That’s why it felt important for me to step in and do that [Black Panther 2] role because I know just by my being Ghanaian, Ghanaians will come.”

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will hit theaters on November 11.

Are you happy to hear that Coel’s portrayal stays true to the comics? Let us know in the comment section below!

Recommended Reading: Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1

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