Karine Jean-Pierre
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Black Panther 2's Queer Cameos Star Anderson Cooper, Michaela Coel

Coel

Spoilers ahead.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is already gearing up to be a massive hit, with star Letitia Wright filling in as the titular hero after the passing of her brother, King T'Challa, in the new film (T'Challa was played by beloved actor Chadwick Boseman, who succumbed to cancer in 2020).

Starring Wright, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong'o, Tenoch Huerta, Winston Duke, and Danai Gurira, Wakanda Forever follows the women working to save the fictional African nation of Wakanda from a new threat following T'Challa's death. Gay CNN anchor Anderson Cooper makes two cameos in the film, playing himself reporting on news concerning the Wakandan people, including a devastating tragedy that occurs in the film's second act. While Cooper's quick appearances bring a touch of real life to the (somber) action film, they also include a sly nod to Ant-Man (played by Paul Rudd), another Marvel Cinematic Universe hero.

A new star entering the MCU is Michaela Coel, the screenwriter and actress known for the critically acclaimed series I May Destroy You. Coel stars as Aneka, a member of the Dora Milaje, a group of fierce female soldiers protecting Wakanda. At the end of the film, Aneka shares a tender moment with fellow fighter Ayo (Florence Kasumba); there's no mistaking the women are in a relationship. Aneka and Ayo's relationship was explored in a Panther spin-off comic book written by bisexual author Roxane Gay.

“That sold me on the role, the fact that my character’s queer,” Coel recently told Variety. “I thought: I like that, I want to show that to Ghana.” Both of Coel's parents hail from Ghana.

The queer inclusions in Wakanda Forever are a nice counterbalance to an anti-transgender, anti-vax message shared in late 2020 by the film's star, Wright.

Wakanda Forever includes other major surprises, including another superstar cameo and a mid-credits scene that has audiences gasping and crying.

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