Back in 2018 when Disney announced the cast for it’s Jungle Cruise movie, an adaptation of the famously slow and fairly racist Disneyland ride, the big news was that British actor and comedian Jack Whitehall had been cast as the first major openly gay character in a Disney Movie.
Now, the first trailer for Jungle Cruise has dropped, and for anyone holding their breath, excited to see what Disney’s first gay character will sound and act like, I’ve got some bad news. While we see a few glimpses of Whitehall’s character— who is star Emily Blunt’s brother in the movie— a few glimpses is all we get. Whitehall has no significant scenes or even any dialogue in the preview.
The movie follows an archeologist, played by Emily Blunt, who hires a boat captain played by Dwayne Johnson to take her on a dangerous river cruise through the Amazon to find a legendary tree. The only glimpses we get of Whitehall’s character are a couple moments where he’s standing in the background, wearing an immaculate white suit and floppy hat.
When the casting news was announced, there was a lot of backlash, seeing as Whitehall is a straight man, and the character was initially reported as being “very camp.” Coming from straight writers, directors and actors, this seemed an almost guaranteed recipe for disaster.
Not only is Disney treading on some thinly, stereotyped ice, but by casting a straight actor to play the historic role, they are doing nothing to assist in the struggle of LGBTQ+ actors who often lose jobs because of their queerness. If these performers are going to be pidgeonholed into only playing queer roles, the least that can be done is they be given them!
I’m not going to lie, the movie looks like a very fun mix of the 1999 The Mummy (I’m getting real Weisz-Fraser vibes) and Johnson’s Jumanji movies. Emily Blunt and Johnson both look great and them teaming up is a bisexual’s dream. Still, I’m very reluctant to get on board until we know more about Whitehall’s gay character.
At least Whitehall’s character is there on the poster!
Disney’s Jungle Cruise is in theaters July 24, 2020.