Analyzing the Impressive Queer Representation in “Nimona” on Netflix!

Nimona movie Netflix queer representation
Nimona and Ballister Boldheart (Screengrab: Trailer)

After facing cancellation and a bunch of delays, the animated film Nimona finally made its Netflix streaming debut on June 30, 2023. With the source material applauded for its queer representation, did the animated adaptation deliver? I would say that it did!

This article about Nimona contains major spoilers. Be warned!

While I didn’t read the webcomic this movie is based on, I was looking forward to watching Nimona because of the hype due to it featuring queer leads. And having watched it, in my opinion, the movie did justice to the queer content, which includes a queer romance.

The two queer men in Nimona are Ballister Boldheart (Riz Ahmed) and Ambrosius Goldenloin (Eugene Lee Yang). While we didn’t get to spend much time on their backstory, the narrative makes it clear that they became friends at a very young age and then went on to develop romantic feelings for each other. Ballister and Ambrosius are very much in love. However, their relationship encounters a nasty speed bump after Ballister is framed for murdering the Queen.

I liked how the story handled their complicated relationship as the two knights found each other on opposite sides. Their love is what allowed Ambrosius to raise suspicion about what the Kingdom’s been told regarding the Queen’s murder. He just can’t help but feel that Ballister’s not the bad guy because that’s not the person he fell in love with.

Another thing I liked was how the fictional world of Nimona was devoid of homophobia. Basically, everyone knew Ballister and Ambrosius were in love, and not once did their peers or anyone in the public showed any sign of homophobia against them. The movie also features a scene where the two share a kiss around other people.

Now, while I understand that certain viewers think that erasing homophobia altogether in a fictional setting instead of acknowledging it and effectively countering it is a cop-out, I think such a creative decision worked for a story like Nimona. I didn’t feel the need for Ballister and Ambrosius to be subjected to homophobic remarks or any kind of pushback from society with everything else going on.

However, in a way, a type of queerphobia is showcased in the film through the titular character. Nimona’s clearly a being with a fluid identity. I liked how the writing team used her fluid existence to address a bunch of real-life issues folks from the genderqueer spectrum continue to face.

The moments where Ballister wanted Nimona (Chloë Grace Moretz) to remain in her human form during their interactions or when he asked insensitive questions about her identity were handled well, in my opinion.  

However, I can see certain viewers giving a side-eye to Nimona as a character. This wouldn’t be the first time media has used a shapeshifter or something “alien” to depict genderqueer identity. But, in my opinion, Nimona’s identity is treated with care. She doesn’t allow anyone to diminish who they are.

And hey! I didn’t say that Nimona was the perfect movie featuring queer leads.

But still, I would like to appreciate Annapurna Pictures’ decision to save Nimona and giving it a home on Netflix. It’s a huge step forward when it comes to queer representation in animated movies.

Having said that, while I enjoyed Ballister and Ambrosius’ relationship, the two really needed to have an actual talk about Ambrosius cutting off Ballister’s arm due to his training kicking in. I get that this is a movie primarily meant for kids, but their reunion felt too rushed with Ballister being very understanding about why Ambrosius did what he did. 

Anyway, Nimona is currently available to stream on Netflix.

Have you watched it? Did you read the webcomic?

Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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