‘Black Panther’ Star Letitia Wright Angers Fans With Anti-Vaccine Tweets

Wright shared a video calling new COVID-19 vaccines into doubt

Last Updated: December 3, 2020 @ 9:29 PM

“Black Panther” star Letitia Wright, who plays tech genius (and T’Challa’s sister) Shuri in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, had fans upset on Thursday night after she shared an antivaxxer video on Twitter and then began tweeting in apparent support of the position.

We’ve embedded some of those tweets as screenshots below. See them on Twitter here, and here.

For those who don’t know, “Antivaxxer” is a portmanteau describing people who adhere to a broad range of unfounded conspiracy theories about vaccinations (anti-vaccine). The movement, which grew primarily thanks to a thoroughly debunked scientific fraud that falsely asserted vaccination played a role in autism and also incorporates other false claims, has gained widespread support over the last 20 years with extremely dangerous consequences.

For instance, the return of deadly diseases previously believed to be largely eliminated has been directly linked to a rise in antivaxxer adherents, including multiple outbreaks of measles, tetanus, and even polio. In fact, there was a 30% increase in measles worldwide in 2019, which health experts directly attribute to growing opposition to vaccines.

In short, the growing popularity of anti-vaccination conspiracy theories is literally killing people. Which probably explains why so many of Wright’s fans took issue when she shared a video attempting to discourage people from taking COVID-19 vaccines, and then continued to defend the position in disagreements about it with her followers.

Wright’s initial tweet was quickly ratio’d — i.e., when replies to a tweet vastly outnumber likes or retweets, almost always an indicator the majority of people object to what was said — as people flocked to essentially beg her to recant. Many pointed out that the video she shared also included transphobic and climate denialist content. Other simply pointed out the irresponsibility of encouraging people not to get vaccinated in the middle of a plague. And activist and author Mikki Kendall explained in a lengthy thread her views on the dangers of conspiracy theories and the people who peddle them, which we’ve embedded in full below.

But a great many just expressed their disappointment through jokes and mockery.

Wright frequently responded to people, but curiously she also occasionally liked tweets calling for her to be fired or for “Black Panther 2” to be canceled.

Representatives for Marvel and Wright didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from TheWrap. Wright’s Marvel Cinematic Universe coworker Don Cheadle initially quote tweeted her saying “Bye Letitia,” a pun on the phrase “Bye, Felicia” usually used to dismiss unpleasant people. However in a series of follow up tweets Cheadle insisted he meant no ill will and considers Wright “my lil sis.”

See more reactions below.