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6 Adaptations That Straightwashed Queer Characters, And 6 That Made Sure They Were Inclusive

We need an X-Men movie where Mystique gets to have a wife.

When it comes to adaptations, all bets are off – some stay as true to the original as possible, some shift things to move with the time, and others put their own new spin on the story.

And these changes can have a HUGE impact on the landscape of LGBTQ+ representation in the media.

So, here are some adaptations that took positive steps in LGBTQ+ representation, and some retellings that removed characters’ queer identities.

Represented – The Proud Family: Lounder and Prouder

Disney Channel

You may remember Michael from the original Proud Family as an awkward teen who was constantly bullied for just being himself. Well, in the reboot, Michael was brought into the 21st century as openly gay, gender nonconforming, and free to live his best life. According to the show’s executive producer, they couldn’t explore Michael’s identity the first time around, so they made sure to do the character justice in the reboot, bringing EJ Johnson on board to voice them.

Removed – Riverdale

The CW

There are many differences between the gang from Archie Comics and what we see in Riverdale, including the erasure of Jughead’s canonical asexuality. There was a lot of talk about this when the series first aired and we saw Jughead develop a relationship with Betty, with many people wondering if his sexuality would be addressed later on. 

Cole Sprouse was in support of including asexual representation, and said that the first season was something of an origin story, “because of the fluidity of sexuality and how oftentimes a person discovers who they are after a series of events.” But six seasons later, we’ve seen a whole lot go down with the Riverdale residents, and no mention of Jughead’s sexual identity.

Represented – Gossip Girl 2021

Hulu

The 2021 Gossip Girl is more of a continuation of the story rather than a remake, but its approach to LGBTQ+ representation was completely different to its predecessor. While the original was far from diversel, a lot of the main characters are queer, and most are played by queer actors. The show’s been praised for its authentic LGBTQ+ representation and lack of tokenism – Zion Moreno, who plays Luna told Out Magazine “I love that the show doesn’t stamp our identities on our foreheads and our characters just get to be.” 

And we can thank the shortcomings of the original Gossip Girl for the representation in the new one. Josh Safran, the executive producer of both GG’s said his only regret was the lack of diversity.

Removed – Gossip Girl

The CW

Before it became a teen drama, Gossip Girl was a novel. And in that novel, Chuck Bass was bisexual. This was just kind of ignored when he was reshaped into one of the main characters, apart from a tiny moment in season three when he kissed an NYU administrator to help Blair out. It wasn’t a romantic kiss but did hint that it wasn’t his first, and that was that. 

Represented – Thor: Love and Thunder

Walt Disney StudiosMotion Pictures

Am I being bold and including a movie that’s not yet been released? Yes, but hear me out. Even though a scene confirming Valkyrie as bisexual was cut from Thor: Ragnarok, Tessa Thompson made sure that everyone was made aware of what fans of the comics already knew: Valkyrie is bi. There were subtle allusions to her sexuality in Ragnorok, but it’s been promised that there will be a queer storyline in Love and Thunder, and Valkyrie has been confirmed the first LBGTQ+ superhero in a Marvel movie. Let’s hope we don’t get any cut scenes in this one!

Removed – Black Panther

Walt Disney StudiosMotion Pictures

There’s an entire comic that follows Ayo’s relationship with Aneka, a fellow Wakandan woman and bodyguard, but not even a hint of Ayo’s queerness made it to the big screen. But it almost did – some flirty cut scenes between Ayo and Okoye were leaked, and people thought this may have been a subtle nod to her sexuality. But Marvel was quick to make sure no one got any ideas, releasing the firm statement that: “the nature of the relationship between Danai Gurira’s Okoye and Florence Kasumba’s Ayo in Black Panther is not a romantic one.” 

Represented – Loki

Disney+

Since Loki was introduced in the comics, The God of Mischief – who was defined as a shapeshifter in Norse mythology – has been portrayed as genderfluid. On-screen, this wasn’t referenced until the Loki series: we see the Time Variance Authority denote Loki as “fluid,” and in one episode Loki touches on his identity during a casual conversation. 

The show’s writer Michael Waldron spoke about the choices they made when creating the show, telling Inverse: “I know how many people identify with Loki in particular and are eager for that representation, especially with this character.”

Removed – The Color Purple

Warner Bros.

When Steven Spielberg adapted Alice Walker’s novel, he completely erased the queer themes that run through it. In the novel we see Celie explore her sexuality, and there’s a deep romance between her and Shug Avery. In the film, this is pretty much non-existent, despite the fact that Walker based Celie on her own grandmother, who wasn’t attracted to men. There’s a kiss in the movie, but the love story isn’t a part of the narrative – a conscious choice on Spielberg’s part, who told EW, “I basically took something that was extremely erotic and very intentional, and I reduced it to a simple kiss.”

Represented – Bel-Air

Peacock

While The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was ahead of its time, shedding light on many experiences that impact teens, it never touched on queer identities. But it’s a different story in Bel-Air, which is a 21st-century reworking of The Fresh Prince.

The Ashley in Bel-Air has a crush on another girl and opens up about it to Hilary, who’s really supportive. Some fans accused the show of “sexualising” the character, even though her crush isn’t dissimilar to any of the crushes Ashley had in the original (the only difference being that those were crushes on boys). Regardless of the backlash, the inclusion of both the storyline and the acceptance from her family is so significant when it comes to positive Black queer representation in TV.

Removed – Archive 81

Netflix

Archive 81 was originally a podcast, and in that podcast, Melody has a wife. Even though she plays a pretty big role in the story, Alexa was completely written out of the Netflix adaptation and instead, Melody has a best friend and roommate named Annabelle. Yes, really. There are a few moments that some fans think are hints to something more between the two, but it’s all very vague.

Represented – Once Upon A Time

ABC

The legend of the Chinese heroine Mulan dates back to the fourth century, and the story has loads of adaptations – one of the most famous being the Disney version. Disney’s Mulan isn’t a queer film, but with its iconic characters and rejection of rigid gender roles, it’s not hard to see why the ‘90s classic resonates with queer audiences. 

Once Upon a Time is known for putting new spins on characters we know, so when Mulan was added to the lineup, her story arc could’ve gone in any direction. Mulan’s as daring and brave as you’d expect – her skills get her an invite to join the Merry Men – but OUAT also touched on her sexuality. In the third season, it was revealed that Mulan had been secretly harbouring feelings for Aurora, something most fans had already picked up on. While she didn’t get the love story she deserved, she was OUAT’s first queer character, and her storyline laid the groundwork for the romance between Ruby and Dorothy – the drama’s first non-straight love story.

Removed – X-Men

Kids’ WB /  20th Century Fox

In the comics, Mystique has a powerful love story that spans decades, and her marriage to fellow mutant Destiny is one of the earliest depictions of a lesbian relationship in comic book history. In the comics, Mystique and Destiny are also Rogue’s adoptive mums, but it’s a different story in the on-screen X-Mens. In Evolution, Destiny was demoted to Mystique’s best friend, and there’s no sign of her (or their relationship) in any of the live-action adaptations. 

What adaptations do you think do you rate? Let us know in the comments!

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