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Why The Same-Sex Relationship In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Is So Important According To Danai Gurira

Danai Gurira is largely known for playing two memorable characters — one in film and the other on television. First, Gurira brought the character of Michonne to life right off the pages of Robert Kirkman's comic books and into AMC's successful television adaptation, and then she exploded onto the scene in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Okoye in "Black Panther."

In the highly anticipated follow-up to director Ryan Coogler's first MCU venture, Okoye and the other citizens of Wakanda face their darkest hour in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." King T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is dead, and for Gurira, the real-life death of Boseman was almost all too much to bear. "I felt hollow," Gurira said in an interview with Vanity Fair where she expressed how the entire cast rallied together to offer one another comfort. "I was numb and was so confused because it was very evident that he was gone," she continued. "We were all feeling it, but we had each other. We were able to lean into each other and commiserate together about our feelings and sadness."

On a different note, Gurira expressed joy over "Wakanda Forever" including a queer relationship between Dora Milaje members Aneka (Michaela Coel) and Ayo (Florence Kasumba). Ayo and Aneka share a "brief and endearing moment in the film" (via Vanity Fair). Despite Okoye not being a part of this relationship, it was still important to Gurira to have the couple represented in the movie. 

Gurira wants to normalize same-sex relationships on screen

"The door is opening now, and we must explore and show all experiences," Danai Gurira said in an interview with Vanity Fair, as she spoke about Aneka and Ayo in the "Black Panther" sequel. "I'm glad to see that Marvel is being more inclusive and showing gay characters to exist freely in a society and live their lives honestly. I hope it normalizes seeing characters like this."

Whether or not we see more of the relationship between Aneka and Ayo remains to be seen. For now, neither actress is confirmed for another MCU project, but we'd be surprised if "Wakanda Forever" was the beginning and end of their story.