Jungle Cruise sounded like a pretty safe project for the House of Mouse. After all, it’s another movie based on a Disneyland attraction and it stars bankable names like Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. But it seems that the studio’s willing to add an element to this action/adventure family film that shows it’s more progressive than you might think. Specifically, reports say it’ll feature Disney’s first ever openly gay character.
According to The Sun, British comedian and actor Jack Whitehall has been cast as the brother of Emily Blunt’s female lead, Lily Houghton, as he tags along with his sister and Johnson’s sea captain Frank as they journey into the jungle to find a tree believed to possess healing powers. Furthermore, it’s reported that Whitehall’s character, yet unnamed, will explicitly be said to not be interested in women in the film.
The news has been met with a very mixed response online, with some supporting Disney finally moving towards LGBT representation while others criticize their way of going about it. Some of the backlash comes from the fact that Whitehall himself is straight, but also because The Sun’s sources claim that the actor’s character will be “fun, effete,” which some view as reinforcing a negative stereotype.
It’s worth mentioning that Disney nor Whitehall have yet to confirm this news, so everyone could be making a mountain out of a molehill here. For instance, Josh Gad’s role in Beauty and the Beast caused controversy in some quarters when it was announced he was the studio’s first gay character. It turned out, though, that Le Fou’s sexuality was only lightly hinted at in the film’s closing moments.
Jungle Cruise might only go so far as to do the same thing and all the fuss will be for nothing. However Whitehall’s character is handled, though, hopefully this will just be another rung on the ladder towards many more varied LGBT individuals appearing in Disney films.
Source: The Sun