The Surprising Queer Representation in “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare”

Alan Ritchson in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare
Alan Ritchson as Anders Lassen in The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (Image via Trailer)

When I decided to watch The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, I was not expecting it to have any kind of queer representation. A team of handsome men doing action stuff? Yes. But actual queer rep? Nopes. So, of course, I was surprised by how the movie handled Alan Ritchson portraying Anders Lassen.

SPOILER WARNING: This article about The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare contains certain spoilers. Consider yourself warned!

This particular movie is an action spy comedy that tells a heavily fictionalized version of a mission mentioned in the book Churchill’s Secret Warriors: The Explosive True Story of the Special Forces Desperadoes of WWII by Damien Lewis. We have Henry Cavill playing Gus March-Phillipps, an actual man who is supposed to serve as the inspiration behind James Bond by Ian Fleming.

Directed and co-written by Guy Ritchie, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare has Gus lead an “unconventional” team as part of Operation Postmaster against the Nazis. On the team, there’s Danish naval officer Anders Lassen played by Alan Ritchson. I side-eyed Anders the moment he came onscreen. Ritchson portrayed the character with a certain “queer” sassiness in his overall body language, with one particular scene having Andres walk with a slight swish in his hips while carrying his bow and arrows.

Andres’ characterization wasn’t played for laughs inside the movie’s setting. None of the other characters joked about his personality. So, I wondered if his onscreen “queerness” was for the audience’s amusement, serving as yet another unfortunate example of Hollywood using a man’s “femininity” for laughs.

However, approximately 40 minutes into the movie, while the team came up with a plan, the writers decided to make it clear to the audience that yeah, this version of Andres liked men. Deal with it.

The scene had Henry Hayes (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) share an opinion about Andres’ behavior when it came to showing love and hate considering how brutal he was when he killed people. Andres responded by saying Henry didn’t have to worry about any of that because he wasn’t his type. Andres specifically called Henry “too pretty” for him and then went on to share that Freddy Alvarez (Henry Golding) was more his type.

Freddy countered by saying Andres would need to “catch” him first with Andres quickly sharing he liked to “hunt” after all. Their interaction led to Freddy saying Andres wasn’t “lucky” enough to get it on with him with Andres replying that he was now getting a bit hot in their little meeting room inside their boat.

I liked how the actors played the scene. I understand that straight men tend to flirt with each other as a joke. Certain queer men share such a dynamic with their straight friends as well. I mean, I’ve participated in such interactions, too. It is what it is. They are always supposed to end with a laugh because everyone knows it’s nothing serious.

However, the interaction with Andres, Freddy, and Henry turned serious. No one laughed or even chuckled. Andres was telling the truth while flirting with Freddy. The look Andres gave Henry… ufff!

In a sense, there was no need to have such a scene. You could edit it out and it wouldn’t change anything of importance in the movie. But the creative team decided to keep it in to tell the audience something important about Andres’ character and how he’s not into hiding what he liked.

Other than that, the movie also had Andres show skin. In a setting where the rest of the men were fully clothed, leave it to the queer guy to find an excuse to wear shorts and then, later on, a tank top.

There’s also something to say about having Andres carry a bow and arrow, a trope in movies and other media that’s usually reserved for female characters.

While I couldn’t find any evidence of the real Anders Lassen being queer, he sure isn’t straight in this heavily fictionalized version of the secret mission he took part in. And though it’s not going to move the needle forward in any significant manner when it comes to queer representation in media, I found it pleasantly surprising because the queer rep could have easily gone wrong in such a male-oriented film.

As for whether or not I recommend you watch The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare in theaters, well, if you are into handsome men doing spy stuff while easily killing any enemy they encounter, then yeah, sure, have at it. Apparently, it’s not projected to have an impressive opening weekend considering the reported almost $60 million production budget.

However, I would recommend that you catch it when it gets a home release down the line. I can’t wait to rewatch the “flirtation” scene on the boat soon.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare was released in the USA on April 19, 2024.

Have you seen it?

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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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