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T’Challa’s world is getting a little bit bigger at Marvel Comics. Off of the back of Ta-Nehisi…Read more Read more

According to a report from Variety, a version of Ayo (Florence Kasumba) prominently featured in the footage screened Monday shows her dancing with another woman, Okoye (Danai Gurira), in a way that reminded some fans of Ayo’s queer comic book counterpart.

From Variety:

In the rough cut of this Black Panther scene, we see Gurira’s Okoye and Kasumba’s Ayo swaying rhythmically back in formation with the rest of their team. Okoye eyes Ayo flirtatiously for a long time as the camera pans in on them. Eventually, she says, appreciatively and appraisingly, “You look good.” Ayo responds in kind. Okoye grins and replies, “I know.”

Within hours of Variety’s initial publication, a Marvel spokesperson reached out to clarify that despite early speculation, “the nature of the relationship between Danai Gurira’s Okoye and Florence Kasumba’s Ayo in Black Panther is not a romantic one.”

As is often the case with the cycle of fan hype being tamped down by statements from studios, the news that this version of Ayo wouldn’t be depicted as a queer woman quickly spawned the #LetAyoHaveAGirlFriend hashtag. Much like #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend, the idea behind #LetAyoHaveAGirlFriend is simple: queer representation, especially in big-budget studio films like Marvel’s, is non-existent and could easily be fixed by making the relationships that already read as sub-textually romantic more explicitly so.

Unlike the push for a gay Captain America, though, Ayo was created and written as a canonically queer woman and sidestepping the obvious chance to portray her as such feels, to many, like a form of erasure.

To Marvel’s credit, there’s been no indication as to whether or not Ayo might still identify as a queer woman or if, in subsequent films, her relationship with Okoye might become romantic. As a number of people have pointed out, though, Marvel head Kevin Feige is on the record as saying that there’s no real reason that Marvel hasn’t brought any of its gay, bisexual, or lesbian characters out of the comics and into the theaters yet.

“We keep track of all of those things and are inspired by all of those things,” Feige told Slash Film in 2015. “I’d love it to find an organic, meaningful and natural way for that to happen at some point in the not so distant future.”

There is literally no more organic, meaningful, or natural way to put a lesbian character into a film other than, you know, to write her as a lesbian. Black Panther hits theaters next February, just in time for Black History Month. There’s still time for reshoots, Marvel.

An interesting read via io9

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