We're now heading into summer blockbuster season, which means all of the big-budget science fiction movies of the year (or at least those that are not on the Oscar schedule) are dropping.
First we have Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which is a fun romp. While many superhero movies have attempted to be an allegory for something or other and end up looking stupid, Guardians embraces its stupidest ideas and somehow transforms them into entertainment. Generally, I agree with Charlie Jane Andrews in suggesting that toxic fatherhood is a central theme of Guardians.
However, there is a disappointment in that director James Gunn hinted at an LGBTQ character who never appeared in the final cut.
It’s like a bizarre, gay version of an Agatha Christie mystery. As the Guardians toss around one-liners like a game of hand-grenade hot potato, you might find yourself thinking: “Could the gay character be someone in this very room? Could it be shiny blue father figure Yondu (Michael Rooker)? Or maybe the vengeful Nebula (Karen Gillan), a disgraced princess whose body parts have been replaced by machinery? And hey, why not the talking baby tree (Vin Diesel) or his raccoon pal with the rocket launcher (Bradley Cooper)? Perhaps even the poorly named space pirate Taserface (Chris Sullivan) could be on the downlow.
Nico Lang @ Salon points to Stakar, but that's a bit of a stretch given that the movie and comics characters are sometimes radically different. For example, X-Men: First Class stripped away Mystique's lover and fellow mutant terrorist Destiny in favor of relationship polygons with half the male cast. We can't assume that characters on screen share the same motivations or relationships as their comic book versions. Especially with Guardians, where the characters have had multiple layers of "reboot" over their publication history.
Filmmakers like Gunn and Condon see the enthusiasm for LGBTQ representation, and offer subtext in response. The problem is, LGBTQ audiences are already very familiar with subtext, because that’s all they usually get.
Which is a shame, really. Both superhero and spaceship crew stories have been fertile ground for exploring LGBTQ themes of family-of-choice and family-of-circumstance. A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and Mass Effect: Andromeda make that connection in ways that are explicitly inclusive of LGBTQ characters. Guardians drops the "family" word but LGBTQ people are invisible.
In a similar note, Ryan Roschke @ POPSUGAR notes that the promised LGBTQ representation for Alien: Covenant is so sparse that you can miss it, Wonder Woman's bisexuality might be buried in the background, and Disney might be backing down from wink-wink, nudge-nudge hints about LGBTQ representation in The Last Jedi. It looks like Hollywood still has cold feet about LGBTQ characters, at least where major franchises are concerned.