The LGBTQ+ representation in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever might not exactly be extensive — coming down mostly to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment of affection between Michaela Coel’s character Aneka and Florence Kasumba’s Ayo — but it’s enough for the moment to have been cut for the film’s release in one Gulf country.
The Hollywood Reporter has learned that while only a very small number of edits have been made to Marvel’s all-star sequel for it to be released in Kuwait, amounting to just over 1 minute of cuts in total, this has included the 10-second scene in which Aneka kisses Ayo on the forehead. Also removed, at the request of censors, was a scene in which a woman gives birth to a child and the line, “A god to his people.”
Interestingly, Kuwait is the only territory to have insisted on cuts in a region that has recently come down hard on any reference to LGBTQ+ characters or issues for films hoping for a theatrical release, even if just part of the dialogue. THR understands that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be screening unedited in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar.
Over the last year, major titles including Pixar’s Lightyear; Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Eternals; and Disney’s West Side Story were all stopped by censors from hitting cinemas over same-gender kisses and gay or transgender characters. None of these films made it to theaters in Saudi Arabia, the region’s biggest market (Kuwait is No. 3, after the U.A.E.).
The decision to remove the scene involving Aneka and Ayo may not come as a surprise to cinemagoers in Kuwait, considered the strictest in the region in terms of censorship and where studios often agree to intimacy edits, even over same-gender relationships. In the first Black Panther, a kiss between T’Challa and Nakia was removed, while a heterosexual kiss was also removed from Encanto.