By David T. Valentin
In Disney’s latest attempt at a cash grab they’ve given us The Jungle Cruise, a movie based off the Disneyland park ride of the same name.
According to cnet, “[Dwayne] Johnson plays a boat skipper named Frank, who takes Blunt’s character Lily and her brother McGregor on a mission to find a tree that has magical healing powers.” McGregor is played by British stand-up comedian Jack Whitehall who you may recognize from The Good Omens series on Amazon Prime. “The journey will see them fight wild animals and compete against a rival German expedition, with Disney adding that there will be a ‘supernatural element.’”
And while we might be confused about the creative decisions to create films based on rides, it seems Disney is making, once again, another little step toward creating inclusion within their entertainment.
In an interview with Variety, Jack Whitehall came out and revealed his character McGregor is gay. He says, “When I first read the script, there was only like a couple of asides. So yeah, there wasn’t any indication of that.”
“I love that you learn that about MacGregor, and he has this interesting and rich backstory, and he’s a man in full, and he has this fully realized character,” Whitehall says. “We’ve talked about the comedy sidekicks so often in those movies, those characters are one-dimensional, and you don’t learn a lot about them. I think that we have that scene in the movie, you’re so much more invested in MacGregor as a character and you care about him, and you’re so on the journey with him.”
According to Variety, McGregor comes out to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s character Frank in a subtle way. McGregor mentions that he’s broken off three engagements with women because his interests “lay elsewhere.” He then thanks his sister for standing by him when their family and his friends shunned him because of who he loved. The scene ends with Frank raising his drink and toasting to “Elsewhere.”
The inclusion is subtle and already people are critiquing Disney’s unwillingness to even mention the word “gay” or anything other than being straight in a concrete matter. Many critics have noted that scene reminds them of Disney’s many attempts at Queer inclusion, such as the live adaptation of Beauty and the Beast with LeFou, a couple kissing in the background of a scene at the end of Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, and many other easy-to-cut-out scenes that have made headlines talking about “Disney’s First Queer Character.”
In McGregor’s case, it seems the inclusion of the scene is important to the overall narrative of his character and considering the scene is so important to his character’s backstory and who he is, perhaps the subtle representation is here to stay.
Jungle Cruise will be released July 30th in movie theatres and on Disney Plus with premier access.