MCU: Gurira wants to normalize same-sex relationships on screen

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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.”

Danai Gurira

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.”

Another important relationship for both the actor and her character in the sequel is Okoye’s love interest Aneka (Michaela Coel). No spoilers here, but Okoye and Aneka do share a “brief and endearing moment in the film”. But do you know why Okoye’s love interest in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is so important to the actor who portrays the General of the Dora Milaje?

Gurira wants to normalize same-sex relationships on screen

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Dora Milaje
L-R: Florence Kasumba as Ayo and Danai Gurira as Okoye in Black Panther.

The character of Okoye has only appeared in four films thus far, and the Disney+ series “What…If?” in three episodes, but she’s had the opportunity to battle some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s top baddies in Thanos (Josh Brolin), Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), and Proxima Midnight (Carrie Coon). But it’s not Okoye’s fighting abilities that Danai Gurira is the most excited about. No, there’s a deeper more meaningful contribution being made to the MCU and to cinema for that matter, by Okoye and her same-sex relationship with Aneka.

“The door is opening now, and we must explore and show all experiences,” Gurira said in an interview with Vanity Fair, as she spoke about her character’s love interest 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.”

At the New York City premiere of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Gurira smiled, but she didn’t have any intention of giving away secrets about Aneka, or any other major spoilers. “This is about the experience people will have in the theater,” she said during an interview with extratv. “So, the last thing I want is to see that destroyed by people finding out just by hearsay and talking.”

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