For The Love Of God, Please Retire Black Panther's Everett Ross From The Marvel Cinematic Universe

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" clocks in at 2 hours and 41 minutes, and lengthy as that may be, it's not hard to understand why. This movie is shouldering so many goddamn burdens that it's a wonder they crammed it all into a single movie: "Wakanda Forever" is mourning T'Challa, honoring the memory of Chadwick Boseman, presenting a way forward without Wakanda's king, giving an ensemble cast of characters room to breathe and doing all of that while introducing an entirely new nation of superpowered people. That's a lot of material! Maybe even enough to fill two movies! So you know what this movie absolutely does not have time for? Updating its audience on the marital status of some random CIA Agent.

If no one else is gonna say it, then I will: Agent Everett Ross is the most egregious diversity hire of our time. While I love Martin Freeman and very much like the idea of him as a snarky CIA agent in a Marvel movie, I am thoroughly exhausted by his existence in the "Black Panther" franchise. Once again, an excursion to Wakanda — the MCU's high-tech African nation that presents a rare opportunity for Black voices to lead a comic book movie — is repeatedly interrupted by the presence of the world's most boring secret agent.

Okoye's "favorite colonizer" is back and more useless than ever: taking up space, wasting precious screentime, and barely contributing to the plot. As /Film's Chris Evangelista put it in his review of the film, "Every time the film cuts back to Ross and his CIA antics, 'Wakanda Forever' grinds to a halt so violently that you can practically see metal-on-metal sparks flying off the screen."

Warning: The rest of this article includes spoilers from "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever."

Black Panther's 'token white guy'

As a presence in 2018's "Black Panther," I only found Everett Ross mildly annoying. Did I bristle when he dismissed Wakanda as a "third world country"? Of course. Did I smirk when he laid hands on T'Challa, prompting Okoye to plot his murder? Duh. But I came around! Mostly because I like laughing and he inspired lots of jokes at his expense. When he arrives on stretcher and Shuri looks him over with glee, she utters one of the movie's funniest lines: "Great, another broken white boy for us to fix." That's great stuff! When she later nicknames him "colonizer," it earned a hearty laugh from my theater.

There's also something wonderfully ironic about flipping the script with a "token white guy." Ross basically assumes the role that's far too often given to people of color in these movies: playing second fiddle to the star. Except, in his case, it's even funnier because he's hilariously inessential. Ultimately it's Shuri, Okoye, M'Baku, and Nakia who ensure T'Challa's victory in "Black Panther." And while it's nice to have a guy on the inside in "Wakanda Forever," the rogue CIA Agent is utterly unhelpful and needs Okoye to swoop in and rescue him by the movie's end.

All this to say that we've had some good times, Everett Ross and I. Every time they release a lineup of character posters for a Black Panther movie where Freeman is the sole piece of wonder bread, it plays like a hilarious inside joke that only Marvel Studios is unaware of. But this walking gag has officially overstayed his welcome and if yeeting him out of the entire MCU isn't an option, can we at least agree that he has no place in any future "Black Panther" movie?

Everett Ross is a waste of precious screentime

Here's an inexhaustive list of characters that we could've spent more time with instead of having the Everett Ross subplot: Attuma, Namora, M'Baku, T'Challa II, Killmonger's fluffy sweater, any of the Dora Milaje ... (Side note: Why the hell do I know more about Ross' relationship with Valentina Allegra de Fontaine than I do about the so-called forbidden romance between Aneka and Ayo?) But fine. I'm not entirely unreasonable. Let's give Agent Ross a fair shake and investigate the purpose of his presence in "Wakanda Forever."

For the most part, he exists to dump exposition on us. He directs Shuri and Okoye to Riri Williams (a task that a computer could handle) and also informs them that the American government is turning against Wakanda (which seems intuitive based on everything that America has ever done). From there, jumping back to the CIA storyline just keeps us informed about how very unhappy the global powers have become with Wakanda's control of vibranium. But didn't we already know that? Wasn't that successfully communicated by Ramonda's Geneva speech and the various attempts to steal vibranium from Wakanda's outreach centers?

And then there's the simple fact that none of the CIA developments have any impact on the story at hand. They are, at best, a way to indicate the direction of Wakanda's global relations and at worst, set up for whatever Marvel project will be grappling with Allegra dewhatsit after this.

Honestly, the fact that the global powers have motivation to attack Wakanda doesn't even need this much setup. In fact, Namor pretty much covers that at the end of the movie when he reminds Namora that Wakanda has no allies on the surface world. So basically, Ross' scenes could've been whittled down to a single encounter ... or removed entirely.

Please don't bring him back for Black Panther 3

So to reiterate the problem: A) Agent Ross is a boring and incredibly uninteresting presence in these movies, B) He serves very little narrative purpose, and C) He actively makes "Wakanda Forever" worse. At one point, we're just straight up watching him banter with his ex-wife in a scene that has nothing to do with the Namor dilemma or the current plight of our characters. Why?!

"Wakanda Forever" is at its best when focused on powerful material: like centering the women of Wakanda, mourning the loss of T'Challa, or grappling with Namor's vengeful nature. Y'know what's neither powerful nor compelling? A jogging sesh with Agent Ross. It derails the movie, ruins its momentum, and makes an already ambitious storyline feel way too overstuffed. It's hard not to see his every moment of screen time as oxygen being sapped away from more interesting characters. 

My deepest desire would be to just blip the man out of existence (can Thanos snap his finger to make a single CIA agent disappear?) but judging by the direction of Wakanda's story and his very complicated relationship with Val, this won't be the last we see of Agent Everett Ross. At the very least, Marvel should spare us the marriage backstory and just let him be the expository tool that he so clearly is. Or if they must, set aside one of the ten million Disney+ shows for him and Val to interact and for the love of God, just let the people of Wakanda be the focus of "Black Panther 3."