Viewers can expect to see a self-identified lesbian character named Officer Specter in the film.
For years Disney faced constant criticism for its portrayal of racist and sexist stereotypes and utter lack of representation unless attached to problematic cultural tropes. When launching its long-awaited streaming service, Disney+, in November last year, the studio tried to slap a band-aid on the issue with an ineffective content warning that did little to please its audience. Although the rather weak attempt at scoring some progressive points failed miserably, Disney has since somewhat redeemed itself with the Pixar animated short Loop which featured a non-verbal and autistic girl of color in a lead role.
See your world differently. 🌎🛶 Loop, the sixth of @Pixar's #SparkShorts, is now streaming on #DisneyPlus. pic.twitter.com/qGpWoEebar— Disney+ (@disneyplus) January 12, 2020
Now, Disney is taking yet another step into a new more inclusive era with its upcoming Pixar film Onward. Set to release in March, the new animated film will feature the first official LGBTQIAP+ character in the Disney-Pixar universe. Producer Kori Rae broke the exciting news to Yahoo Entertainment in an interview last week, revealing that viewers can expect to see a self-identified lesbian character named Officer Specter in the film. Voiced by openly gay screenwriter and actress Lena Waithe, Officer Specter is a Cyclops cop and will appear in one scene in the middle of the main character's quest. Yeah, it's not much, but it's something.
Rae also revealed that although Specter's inclusion in the film is a major first for Disney, the movie handles the historic event rather matter-of-factly. "It just kind of happened. The scene, when we wrote it, was kind of fitting and it opens up the world a little bit, and that’s what we wanted," she said. Onward director Dan Scanlon added, "It's a modern fantasy world and we want to represent the modern world." Although Specter's role is limited to one scene in the film, she is said to be vital to the emotional arc of the story.
The film which stars Tom Holland and Chris Pratt voicing the two elven brothers, Ian and Barley respectively, takes place in a magical universe whose fantastical citizens have lost their connection to the magical arts. The brothers, who lost their father at a young age before they got a chance to say goodbye, embark on an adventure when on Ian's 16th birthday, their mother (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) unveils a present left behind by their dad. The present turns out to be a 24-hour resurrection spell which, given their limited experience with magic, immediately goes haywire.
The brothers are then forced to set off on a quest to find a replacement element before their father disappears forever. Written by Scanlon, Jason Headley, and Keith Bunin, Onward will see the boys' mother and her new boyfriend, centaur cop Colt Bronco—voiced by Mel Rodriguez—trying to catch up with Ian and Barley to protect them from a curse that their mission could unleash. Half-way through the brothers' quest, Officer Spector enters the narrative. Spector and her cop partner Officer Gore (Ali Wong) pull over a reckless driver who is, in fact, Ian and Barley in disguise.
Not wanting to be escorted home, the driver claims he was distracted because his girlfriend's sons have been acting up. "My girlfriend’s daughter got me pulling my hair out," Officer Spector immediately sympathizes, suggesting that the best thing they can do is try to be there for them. Although Onward features the first confirmed LGBTQIAP+ character in the Disney-Pixar universe, fans have long speculated the presence of more such characters in previous films. The internet had a field day when the trailer of Finding Dory dropped in 2016, seemingly featuring a lesbian couple pushing a stroller through the aquarium. However, these theories were never addressed by the filmmakers. Onward is set for release on March 6.