This will contain spoilers for Nimona and its queer themes.
This morning, I finally got around to watching Nimona – and wasn’t it a lot of fun?
And it’s a delightfully queer movie. This is not Luca with it’s (laughably (un)deniable) gay romance. It’s not Strange Worlds with it’s queer relationship consigned to bookending the movie. It’s not Raya and the Last Dragon with an enemies-to-lovers plot (again totally obvious but deniable).
This is different. I was surprised when the relationship between Ballister and Ambrosius was confirmed so early on and was clearly an existing relationship. Of course, they do then have to be separated and spend most the movie on “opposite sides” meaning that their relationship is not the story. Don’t get me wrong – it features, it’s angst comes up at various points, but it’s relatively background.
What makes this undeniably queer though is the themes. Nimona – our titular character – is made into a monster by the society. And so she teams up with someone else who society is making into a monster. Nimona has been a monster for a thousand years and is both revelling in that and the paradoxical freedom it gives her. She is able to question everything, break expectation, screw norms. She is Queer.
Meanwhile, Ballister is still wedded to the old structures he was bought up with and idolised. He believes that the Knights (the police) can be on his side even as he sees himself betrayed by Ambrosius – a major player in this force. He is LGBT+.
This is a story about structures and how they exist to support the powerful. An element of the story I haven’t mentioned is Ballister’s “commoner” background and how he is the first such to enter the ranks of the Knights. He’s treated as an invader, his worthiness is questioned. AS soon as it is possible to cast him aside they do so and paint him as monster with – for the most part – no hestitation.
As Ballister understands and sees this more and more he has to unlearn his trust in the structures he was once so invested in. He had to learn how to unsee the monsters.
In the ending, we see the structures lose their mask of benevolence. See their obsession with the “monsters” the “others” at the cost of not caring for those they supposedly represent and protect. And a somewhat traditional resolution where the “monster” becomes the hero (in the eyes of the society) to save the day.
What is less clear is the “happily ever after”. We still see the Knights as police force – seemingly including the bully character which suggests that the structures are actually still very much in place, albeit with a, hopefully, better leadership and outlook (although it is unclear what Ambrosius’ role with them is now). Damnit! Why’d I have to analyse this and question this…
It has important things to say though about monstering, othering, how fear holds a society back in many ways (keeping its citizens from the beauty beyond the wall), even the oppressive nature of structures and systems (even if it does seem to tone that down in the ending).