For Pride Month 2020, Let’s Discuss The Year’s Biggest LGBTQ+ Moments In TV And Film!

SPOILERS FOR HARLEY QUINN SEASON 2 AND SHE-RA SEASON 5!

Happy Pride Month! As we begin to celebrate the history and culture of the LGBTQ+ community, I thought it would be interesting to look at what the community has accomplished already in 2020, through the mediums of TV and film. Though coronavirus has prevented many inclusive films from making it to theaters this year, there are still plenty that did get there before the world went on lockdown, and many more that have released on streaming. For this breakdown, we’ll be looking at the setbacks the LGBTQ+ community suffered early in the year, and three outstanding breakthroughs in representation that both occurred just last month which could signal big changes in the industry.

Of course, I should note that this is not, by any means, a comprehensive list of every film or TV series released this year that touches on any of these issues – this is merely a discussion of some especially significant incidents spanning the course of the past several months, which I feel present a fairly accurate depiction of the year’s many ups and downs as a whole.

She-Ra LGBTQ
She-Ra rescues Catra | tor.com

2020 opened on a promising note with Marvel President and head producer Kevin Feige boldly announcing that the Marvel Cinematic Universe would welcome its first ever transgender superhero in the very near future, at a Q&A where he used the words: “Yes, absolutely. Yes.” Unfortunately, the moment was irreparably tarnished when it was revealed that Feige hadn’t realized the question was specifically about transgender superheroes, and only meant an LGBTQ+ superhero was coming very soon. That doesn’t necessarily mean that transgender heroes aren’t going to appear in the MCU at some point (there are rumors that a transwoman superheroine, Sera, could appear in either the Loki Disney+ series or Thor: Love And Thunder), but it does cast doubt on when that will ever happen. It was a bad omen, heading into the new year.

Marvel LGBTQ
Marvel Comics’ transgender heroine Sera | mcuexchange.com

In February, Marvel’s rival DC had a golden opportunity to explicitly confirm that one of their most major characters was canonically LGBTQ+ – but instead, their hyped-up zany comedy Birds Of Prey danced around the issue of sexuality, giving only eagle-eyed viewers a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nod to lead character Harley Quinn’s bisexuality in an animated sequence, while simultaneously hinting through stereotypical mannerisms that flamboyant, misogynistic villain Roman Sionis and his partner-in-crime were a gay couple. A lesbian character in the film, Renee Montoya, did play a large role and had an ex-girlfriend who also showed up, which makes Birds Of Prey something of a “one step forward, two steps backward” sort of situation.

Around the same time, the Disney+ streaming platform came under fire for a slew of reasons, most of which involved the service’s attempts to whittle down their roster of upcoming original content in a manner which many saw as discriminatory towards series’ with a focus on LGBTQ+ issues. While Disney+ didn’t do this with all of their shows (High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and Diary Of A Future President both featured openly LGBTQ+ characters), they did make the decision to move their hotly-anticipated Love, Victor (a spinoff of 20th Century Fox’s successful gay romance Love, Simon, obtained during the Disney/Fox merger) to Hulu, deeming it too mature for their own platform. One of the service’s most high-profile original series’, a sequel to the Lizzie McGuire Disney Channel series, was shut down entirely – with some sources saying that it was due to the way in which the story tackled matters of sexuality. It didn’t take long before the whole situation had raised a very interesting discussion about what is “family-friendly”, but that hasn’t saved Love, Victor from heading to Hulu, nor has it resurrected Lizzie McGuire.

Love, Victor LGBTQ
Love, Victor | deadline.com

In March, as the world started falling apart thanks to coronavirus, the Pixar film Onward was lost in the catastrophe, and moviegoers barely had any time to acknowledge the fantastic animated feature or its moment of LGBTQ+ representation – a moment that would have been great, had it not been leaked to the press by eager journalists prior to the film’s release and subsequently massively overhyped. In the film, a cop played by openly lesbian actress Lena Waithe briefly mentions her girlfriend in a single line of dialogue. Despite how brief the moment was, the film was still boycotted by conservative groups like One Million Moms and banned by several Middle Eastern nations.

Within a few weeks, the coronavirus had already caused major shifts in the film industry: films were being reshuffled across the board, movie theaters around the globe were shutting down and studios were hurrying to push all their upcoming or recently released content onto streaming. Unfortunately, one notable victim of all the release date rearrangements was Marvel’s The Eternals, a film already remarkable for its diverse cast. The superhero epic directed by Asian-American indie icon Chloe Zhao is set to feature the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first gay couple, and was supposed to release in November of this year. Sadly, the film has now been pushed back to February of 2021, meaning we will have to wait even longer before we can find out what Lebanese actor Haaz Sleiman was talking about when he said that there’s a gay kiss in the film that’s so emotional it made people on-set begin crying. Another Disney film, Jungle Cruise, was delayed an entire year, and will now be opening in summer, 2021: though it’s been invisible in the film’s marketing so far, Jungle Cruise is supposed to introduce Disney Studios’ first openly gay character – which is already somewhat controversial, as Disney couldn’t even be bothered to find an openly gay actor to play the role, rumors say that the character’s depiction is “hugely effete”, and test screenings apparently revealed that the character has a coming out scene in which he never actually states that he is LGBTQ+. Perhaps a delay for that movie wouldn’t be a bad thing, as it could allow them to do some much-needed reshoots.

But not everything has been all gloom and doom. The past month has introduced a wave of new representation: some of it from DC Universe, some from Netflix, some, most shockingly, from Disney+ – all of it through the form of animation.

In the first instance, DC Universe’s Harley Quinn animated series rectified Birds Of Prey‘s glaring omission by adhering to comics canon and having Harley Quinn and fellow Gotham City supervillain Poison Ivy begin a tentative relationship, which has even resulted in the two sharing a kiss. The duo now have to sort out their messy, complicated feelings for each other, and that’s great. It’s the first time the relationship, which was wildly popular in the comics, has been represented onscreen – and fans are already enjoying the canonization of the pairing, which they have labeled “Harlivy”.

She-Ra LGBTQ
Adora and Catra | polygon.com

However, something that sets Harley Quinn apart is that the series is exclusively for adults, meaning that its audience is necessarily limited. That’s not a problem that faces Netflix and DreamWorks, whose collaboration on the animated reboot of She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power is something that can be enjoyed by all ages – the fifth and final season premiered on the streaming service just recently, and made the hopes and dreams of the series’ many LGBTQ+ fans finally come true when lead characters Adora (a.k.a. She-Ra, Princess of Power) and Catra rekindled their friendship: which turned into a slow-burn romance, which culminated in the two confessing their love for each other in the series finale, kissing, and saving the world with the power of love. That, my friends, is representation done right – because as much as I enjoy seeing “casual” representation (such as the cop from Onward, who simply mentions her girlfriend without making it a big deal), I infinitely prefer seeing characters whose sexuality or gender identity is something that actually helps to define who they are. And with Adora and Catra, whose relationship has been at the heart of She-Ra for all five seasons, it made complete sense that their love would play a huge part in the conclusion to the story – and it did, because showrunner Noelle Stevenson is a brave, brilliant genius, who fought to make sure that she wouldn’t have to pull a Legend Of Korra on her fans and just have Adora and Catra hold hands and/or gaze platonically at each other.

Out LGBTQ
Pixar’s “Out” | nytimes.com

Finally, we have to talk about Out. Though Disney+ is still new and working out many of its flaws, they did just recently make a big step forward – or rather, Pixar did it for them and Disney+ gets to take the credit: Out, the newest of Pixar’s animated Sparkshorts which debuted exclusively on the streaming platform, follows a gay man in an interracial relationship as he struggles to come out to his parents. Even though the story involves an unpredictable magical mishap and a lot of dog humor, it never loses sight of its true focus, which is a heartwarming message of acceptance. The short, which clocks in at around nine minutes long, is an understated milestone, becoming the first Pixar story to star a gay lead – and much to its credit, enjoyed a spot on Disney+’s top trending section, which shows that audiences are curious and eager for more content like this.

And so, as we head into Pride Month coming off of small successes like Harley Quinn, She-Ra and Out, I must ask of all my readers that you keep fighting for change in any way you can: whether that means demanding more LGBTQ+ representation from Hollywood, or protesting police brutality because black lives matter – or, preferably, by doing both. One day, we will see that change, and it will come from people like you. 2020 is a wake-up call for all of us: to fight harder. To do better.

Looking for a terrific self-storage facility?

Check out the Self Storage Barn of Morris which is where I have been keeping my BobbleHead collection of late!

“Jungle Cruise” Second Trailer Review!

Whereas the first trailer for the Jungle Cruise movie leaned heavily on old action movie tropes, wondrous and fantastical elements, and a good old-fashioned spirit of adventure, this second trailer does…well, less of that, making me ever so slightly concerned about the quality of this upcoming adaptation of a Disney theme park ride. Nonetheless, there are still reasons not to be afraid, and most of them are right here in this trailer.

Jungle Cruise
joblo.com

Firstly, the chemistry between Dwayne Johnson as a cranky, underpaid riverboat captain on the Amazon River manning the titular jungle cruise and Emily Blunt as a wealthy, idealistic British explorer hunting for a magic cure-all in the jungle is off the charts: they’re hilarious together. I don’t know if their characters will end up in a romance in the film, but it seems almost a shame to put an end to their snappy, irritable banter with each other.

Then, of course, there’s the ridiculously fun scenarios we find our protagonists in: they get attacked by leopards, torpedoed by a rival explorer’s submarine, and stalked by an enraged demonic snake-god from the heart of the jungle: one whom I wish they could have hidden for a while longer. I assume this demon is their ultimate antagonist on the quest for the cure-all tree, yet we already see scenes of him that, unless cunningly edited, look like spoilers to me.

Interestingly, although Disney felt comfortable revealing the big bad in this trailer, they still haven’t shown us anything of their “first openly gay character”, who is here played by comedian Jack Whitehall, and should probably have had a sizable role in the film as Blunt’s character’s brother and the only other member of the Johnson/Blunt exploration down the Amazon.

But my main issue with this trailer is that it’s devoid of some of the antiquated charm that the first trailer had: it makes me feel that the first trailer was lying to me about the tone and atmosphere of the movie, and that’s not a good feeling. After that trailer came out, I raved about Jungle Cruise‘s nostalgic magic. I don’t feel the same way about this trailer. It’s good, but it’s not particularly engaging or eye-catching.

What did you think of this second trailer for Jungle Cruise? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 6/10

Looking for a terrific self-storage facility?

Check out the Self Storage Barn of Morris which is where I have been keeping my BobbleHead collection of late!

“Jungle Cruise” Trailer Review!

I’m just gonna say it, loud and clear: Jungle Cruise will be a billion-dollar blockbuster summer juggernaut next year. Even if the trailer had not been good, it would probably still crush its competition and rake in plenty of cash for Disney – but the trailer is fantastic.

I knew it was going to be good when Emily Blunt, decked out in her most Indiana Jones-esque fashion, came onscreen wielding a gigantic spear, trying to steal an ancient Amazonian arrowhead from a team of archaeologists in London. Having Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as her unwilling traveling companion hilariously trying to swindle her out of £15000 is also exceptionally fun – Johnson is an excellent comedian. We even catch a brief glimpse of Jack Whitehall as Disney’s first openly gay character, though he has no lines just yet. But for me, the main selling point for this film is adventure.

During the interminable wait until Indiana Jones 5, I have been waiting for a new, epic adventure movie: one with high-stakes, danger, action, a dash of humor, and all the thrills that Disney has to offer. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, a movie based off a theme park ride delivers up all that, and more. There’s huge waterfalls, giant snakes, and a warrior god protecting a magical tree in the Amazon Rainforest: is that not what your heart has been secretly hungering for these past few years? I literally breathed a sigh of relief watching this trailer, realizing that I’ve wanted this for so long. Jungle Cruise looks like it will manage to give us all the fun that we expect from classic adventure movies, but with modern sensibilities: including the appropriately diverse cast of heroes.

My only complaint, as of right now, is that the actual cruise boat is a bit smaller than I had imagined – that’s entirely my fault, though: for some reason, I was picturing some majestic Mississippi riverboat sluggishly moving down the Amazon…off the top of my head, I can’t recall whether any such vessels were ever actually built for travel on the jungle waterways, so perhaps for once Disney might actually be kind of historically accurate? Or, more likely, it’s just cheaper and easier to build an itty-bitty little jungle cruise than a gigantic one.

So the real question is not whether you will see Jungle Cruise, because I have no doubt that everyone will at some point, but whether or not you will see it simply because it’s a Disney movie, or because this trailer actually does an awesome job promoting this film. In this day and age, great trailers aren’t necessary to boost a film into the billion-dollar club (looking at you, Aladdin and The Lion King), but Jungle Cruise can’t be hindered by the fact that its marketing campaign is off to a great start. Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 9.5/10

Looking for a terrific self-storage facility?

Check out the Self Storage Barn of Morris which is where I have been keeping my BobbleHead collection of late!

Dwayne Johnson Joining The DCEU!

There have long been rumors that DC Comics antihero Black Adam would one day get his own solo movie, after studio executives decided the character was too important to be introduced as a supporting character in the Shazam movie. Well, now Shazam is out and has run its course, raking in a decent profit at the global box-office, and paving the way for Black Adam to finally reach the big screen by himself. The character is not a traditional hero: he first appeared in the comics as a villain, and still has a somewhat troubled and morally gray personality there, to this day. We’ve known for some time that one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is set to play him – when he appears on the big screen, he’ll probably be one of the crown jewels of the DC’s roster of actors, which at the moment doesn’t feature too many household names in starring roles, apart from maybe Jason Momoa (Aquaman). And maybe that’s the reason that Black Adam is suddenly moving into production: there’s been some chatter recently about Johnson wanting to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and DC probably doesn’t like the sound of that.

And that’s how we’ve ended up here, today, with Jaume Collet-Serra being brought on to direct Johnson in the upcoming Black Adam movie, expected to start filming sometime next year. Collet-Serra recently finished working with Johnson on Disney’s Jungle Cruise movie, and seems to have a good relationship with the actor. One little wrench in the plan, of course, is that the story of Black Adam may rely on his heroic arch-nemesis Shazam – and the Shazam movie, while it received glowing praise from critics, wasn’t exactly a box-office sensation in the domestic market. It didn’t do badly, but it was somewhat drowned out due to its unfortunate release date in between Marvel’s Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame, both of which hit the billion-dollar mark: its domestic total of 139 million is still less than what Captain Marvel made just in its opening weekend. For more information on the film’s box-office, see here. Regardless of that, DC is apparently moving on with the franchise, with a sequel already in the works.

With Johnson starring (and producing), the Black Adam movie will likely get off the ground and make its way to theaters soon enough. Shazam 2 will probably follow. But the real question is: will audiences care, even if they do? Even the epic battle between Batman and Superman in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice failed to inspire much interest – and that also featured the highly-anticipated arrival of heroes like Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which marketed epic battles between fan-favorite monsters such as Mothra, Rodan, Ghidorah, and of course, Godzilla himself, has only managed to muster 67 million domestically. And these are characters with fanbases and followings. Shazam and Black Adam, meanwhile, are little-known characters, and Shazam‘s box-office returns suggest only moderate interest in the hero – and it  succeeded in part due to its appeal to younger audiences and families: a battle crossover event would likely be darker and grittier, and less of a kid-friendly film. But then again, Dwayne Johnson is one of only a few movie-stars who can draw all sorts of audiences to theaters like flies to honey: his DC debut could generate substantial publicity for the fledgling franchise.

What are your thoughts on the Black Adam movie? How do you think Dwayne Johnson’s involvement will help or hurt the film? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Looking for a terrific self-storage facility?

Check out the Self Storage Barn of Morris which is where I have been keeping my BobbleHead collection of late!