Disney’s upcoming film Strange World is set to feature its first openly gay teen romance.
Back in 2021, Disney Animation announced that the adventure comedy would be its next animated feature via social media.
The new film follows the Claudes, a family of explorers that embark on an adventure “into a deep, uncharted and treacherous land where fantastical creatures await.”
Jake Gyllenhaal, Gabrielle Union, Dennis Quaid, and Jaboukie Young-White are set to star as the Claudes family, with Lucy Liu rounding out the cast as Callisto Mal – the leader of the land of Avalonia.
In a 2021 statement, director Don Hill revealed that the film is a nod to classic pulp magazines.
“I loved reading the old issues of pulps growing up,” he said. “They were big adventures in which a group of explorers might discover a hidden world of ancient creatures. They’ve been a huge inspiration for Strange World.”
Alongside the film’s adventure sci-fi background, the film is also set to make LGBTQ+ history.
According to a report from Variety, the movie will feature the studio’s very first openly gay character and LGBTQ+ teen romance.
During France’s Annecy Animation Festival, Walt Disney Animation Studios showcased three scenes from the highly-anticipated movie.
The very first scene was a sneak-peek into the aforementioned romance between Young-White’s character Ethan Claude and his school’s heartthrob Diazo.
Animator Matthieu Saghezchi confirmed the inclusion of the scene via Twitter.
Just saw the very first glimpse into #Disney ‘s #StrangeWorld at the #Annecy2022 festival – it features the first openly gay teen romance in a disney feature!!! 🏳️🌈 #RepresentationMatters pic.twitter.com/H1bEjyrSV1
— Matthieu Saghezchi (@MSaghezchi) June 17, 2022
“Just saw the very first glimpse into Disney’s [Strange World] at the [Annecy 2022] festival – it features the first openly gay teen romance in a Disney feature!!! #RepresentationMatters,” he wrote.
“The scene describes the son being very shy in front of his boy crush, and his dad comes in and says, ‘so nice to meet you! my son talks about you all the time’, and further embarrasses his son very cute.”
The upcoming LGBTQ+ storyline in Strange World follows Pixar’s recent inclusion of a same-sex kiss in the Chris Evans-led film, Lightyear.
The brief moment, which was cut but later restored, occurred between Buzz Lightyear’s best friend Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) and her partner.
Although Lightyear has been praised for its LGBTQ+ moment, it has also faced significant pushback from conservative critics.
On 14 June, Reuters reported that the film was blocked in over 14 territories, including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Lebanon.
Even with the recent pushback over the film’s brief interaction, Lightyear producer Galyn Susman revealed that the film would not undergo any last-minute changes.
“We’re not going to cut out anything, especially something as important as the loving and inspirational relationship that shows Buzz what he’s missing by the choices that he’s making, so that’s not getting cut,” she told Reuters during the premiere.
Check out the teaser for Strange World here or below.