July 3, 2022

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Netflix saves Disney's canceled 'Nimona' movie. Right here's why that's excellent news for queer illustration.

After years of improvement, and even being scrapped completely, the animated fantasy movie Nimona has discovered a house at Netflix.

Based mostly on the graphic novel by ND Stevenson, creator of Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Energy, Nimona is the story of a knight who’s been framed for against the law he did not commit and the titular younger shapeshifter who might help him show his innocence. The movie adaptation has been within the works since 2015, when it was set to be produced by Blue Sky Studios, the subsidiary of twentieth Century Fox Animation that introduced us movies like Ice Age.

Disney’s 2019 acquisition of twentieth Century Fox threw Nimona‘s future into query. The movie’s launch date was delayed a number of occasions earlier than Disney introduced in February 2021 that it was shutting down Blue Sky Studios. The shutdown meant that Nimona was formally canceled.

Nevertheless, on April 11, 2022, Stevenson introduced on Twitter that Nimona is ready to be launched on Netflix in 2023, writing, “Nimona’s at all times been a spunky little story that simply wouldn’t cease. She’s a fighter…however she’s additionally received some actually superior folks preventing for her.”

Nimona‘s move to Netflix is wonderful news not just for fans of Stevenson’s graphic novel, but for queer representation in animation. Queerness is at the heart of Stevenson’s She-Ra, which features multiple same-sex relationships and the nonbinary character Double Trouble (voiced by Jacob Tobia). The entire series hinges on the love story between female foes, Adora (voiced by Aimee Carrero) and Catra (voiced by AJ Michalka). Queerness is similarly essential to Nimona, which is full of queer-coded and gender-nonconforming characters and centers on a same-sex romance.

‘Nimona’s move to Netflix is wonderful news not just for fans of Stevenson’s graphic novel, but for queer representation in animation.

Animated TV shows, including ones targeted at younger audiences, have recently been leading the charge in LGBTQ representation. In addition to She-Ra, series like Netflix’s Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts and I Heart Arlo feature queer lead characters, as have Nickelodeon’s The Legend of Korra, Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe and Adventure Time, and Disney Channel’s The Owl House. The identical may be mentioned of animated movies like LAIKA’s ParaNorman and Netflix/Sony Photos Animation’s The Mitchells vs. The Machines. Lacking from that record? Disney movies.

If Nimona had remained a Disney launch, its specific queerness would have been a welcome departure from the studio’s ordinary underwhelming “solely homosexual moments.” From a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it same-sex Star Wars kiss to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him homosexual character in Avengers: Endgame, Disney has constantly missed the mark with regards to LGBTQ illustration in its movies. It is telling that of the 5 animated movies nominated for Greatest Animated Function at this 12 months’s Oscars, solely the 2 non-Disney/Pixar films — Mitchells and Flee — have queer illustration. Queer subtext is arguably current in all three Disney/Pixar nominees — Encanto, Luca, and Raya and the Final Dragon — nevertheless it stays simply that: subtext.

In March 2022, Disney confronted criticism for funding the backers of Florida’s controversial “Do not Say Homosexual” invoice and their subsequent (and lackluster) response to the discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws. Pixar workers spoke out, stating in a letter that, “Almost each second of overtly homosexual affection is reduce at Disney’s behest.” After the letter’s launch, a same-sex kiss was reportedly restored to the upcoming Lightyear.

Disney’s stress to clean LGBTQ content material from movies wasn’t simply restricted to Pixar. Former Blue Sky staffers informed Enterprise Insider that earlier than Nimona was scrapped, Disney management disapproved of its queer parts, together with a same-sex kiss.

“We’d like extra queer tales, however we additionally must name out how nefarious it’s when you do not inform queer tales,” one staffer informed Insider. “When the largest leisure firm on the earth creates content material for kids and systematically censors queer content material, they’re pushing queer kids to darkish locations.”

The response to Nimona‘s preliminary cancellation emphasised simply how a lot seeing queer tales means to queer audiences. Responses to a Change.org petition titled “Get Nimona picked up by one other studio” embody feedback like, “I need others to see the Lgbtq+ characters I did not get to see rising up in order that perhaps life is only a bit much less complicated” and “I need queer movie illustration.”

Resurrecting Nimona is a step in the fitting route, however that it was scrapped within the first place nonetheless proves the media business has an extended strategy to go. Hopefully, the battle to launch Nimona will break down doorways for extra animated films that commemorate queerness, which, given laws just like the “Do not Say Homosexual” invoice, we’d like desperately.

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