loading...

10 July 2020 14:36

The Haunting of Hill House Mike Flanagan Netflix

Netflix The Old Guard ending explained

The aforementioned attempts to permit non-straight characters into franchise fare were viewed by some as an indication of a more accepting industry, one that was also finally allowing women and people of colour to save the world alongside white straight men. But from Josh Gad fleetingly dancing with another man in a Disney movie (obnoxiously heralded in press at the time as an "exclusively gay moment"), to John Cho seen with what we can sort of guess is his male partner in a Star Trek sequel (a confirming kiss was cut, obviously), to being told after the fact that Tessa Thompson, Kate McKinnon, Donald Glover, Ryan Reynolds and Kristen Stewart were playing queer characters (despite no on-screen proof), it's all been embarrassingly and infuriatingly coy. So imagine my surprise, having grumbled about this tiresome tactic on many occasions, when an hour into Netflix's glossy new Charlize Theron-led summer adventure The Old Guard, two central male characters kiss. In 2020, it really shouldn't be such a big deal, but watching a form of unfettered queer love exist within the confines of a fantastical comic book adaptation, aimed at a wide audience, felt major to me. I've long desired to see gay characters in genres other than "gay movie" and seeing two men kill the bad guys while finding time to spoon and flirt provided a thrill I'd not yet experienced in my many years of blockbuster-watching.

The film tells the tale of a group of immortal mercenaries whose ability to regenerate after death has made them powerful weapons across time. The team includes Joe (Tunisian-Dutch actor Marwen Kenzari, best known for playing Jafar in the live-action Aladdin) and Nicky (Italian actor Luca Marinelli who won an award at Venice last year for his role in Martin Eden), revealed early on to also be a couple, whose love is as undying as their bodies are. Joe responds with such a sweet, unabashed, lengthy description of their love ("His kiss still thrills me, even after a millennium"), that it shocks both the henchmen watching and us, the audience, programmed by years of studio neutering to expect very little. Screenwriter Greg Rucka, adapting from his own source material, told Entertainment Weekly that he demanded any version of the film kept the relationship intact ("I wanted a happy queer couple," he said). Director Gina Prince-Bythewood, the first black female director to take on a major comic-book movie, said this speech was one of the reasons she signed on.

Their relationship is just one strand of a plot that's mostly focused with a familiar good v evil reckoning, and that's exactly how it should be and how it's always been for straight characters quietly in love in the background of genre fare while the world is saved out front. While the invisibility of queerness in big movies means we have no way of proving that it would repel audiences as executives seem to think it will, international concerns remain paramount and with major territories such as China removing gay scenes from Bohemian Rhapsody and Malaysia doing the same to Rocketman, studios are wary. The downside is that when the film does inevitably become a streaming hit this weekend, studios won't have a box office total to use as proof, to show that people aren't terrified by two men kissing, a dumb indicator for sure but one that industry heads still desire. Whether we like it or not, mainstream entertainment still plays a huge role in shaping how we see minority groups, and if LGBT characters are left within gay cinema, and if gay cinema is left in the arthouse, that's how people will still see us. The Old Guard, which sets itself up as the first of a bold new franchise, makes an unambiguous statement: queerness belongs in the centre of the frame, without coyness or skittish editing telling us to be equally embarrassed about our open sexuality.

By choosing "I agree" below, you agree that NPR's sites use cookies, similar tracking and storage technologies, and information about the device you use to access our sites to enhance your viewing, listening and user experience, personalize content, personalize messages from NPR's sponsors, provide social media features, and analyze NPR's traffic. The Old Guard has now arrived on Netflix and, as is customary with comic-book movies, it sets up a sequel with an intriguing ending. Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, the action movie stars Charlize Theron as Andy, a millennia-old warrior in charge of a group of immortal soldiers who protect the world from various threats. Prince-Bythewood confirmed to Digital Spy that there are plans for a trilogy, and a face from the group's past looks to have come back to haunt them in the sequel if the movie proves a hit on Netflix. But to explain who that was at the end, we have to head into some heavy spoilers, so look away now if you haven't seen The Old Guard yet.

The movie sees the group go face-to-face with villainous scientist Merrick (Harry Melling), who seeks to capture them and use their powers for profit, and former contact Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who thinks Merrick is doing it for the good of humanity. Copley sees the error of his ways, but not in time as the entire team – bar Nile (KiKi Layne) – is captured after being betrayed by Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts). It doesn't end well for Merrick as he's killed by a combination of Andy and Nile, and a fall from the penthouse floor of a very tall building. The team regroups and Booker is banished for 100 years after his betrayal, while Copley is given the task of ensuring the group remain ghosts to protect them from people like Merrick, as well as finding them "jobs that are best suited to us". He walks into his place and finds none other than former Old Guard member Quynh (Veronica Ngo): "Booker... If you weren't paying attention earlier in the movie, Quynh was the first immortal that Andy found. Nile finds out about Quynh's horrific fate when she tells the group that she dreams of a woman dying again and again in an iron coffin. Before the likes of Booker, Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli) joined the group, it was just Andy and Quynh with the duo fighting "thousands of battles side-by-side". "She's lived with that guilt ever since, but she blames herself for Quynh's fate," Joe tells Nile, with Andy later admitting that she gave up searching for her: "I made Quynh a promise, and I broke it." Greg Rucka – who adapted his comic book for the movie – has written a second Old Guard comic book called that follows how Quynh's return affects the team. Given how faithful the first movie was to the source material, it's likely that the sequel will follow a similar pattern if it happens. The Old Guard is available to watch now on Netflix. Have you devoured The Old Guard on Netflix yet? Of course you have – it's a Charlize Theron-starring superhero movie available to watch at home right now! We saw the origins of KiKi Layne's new immortal Nile Freeman and even the movie took us back in time to witness a few other major events play out. Before we get into The Old Guard ending, a quick warning: Spoilers! This article contains major spoilers for Netflix's The Old Guard!! During a set of interviews for The Old Guard, GamesRadar+ sat down with director Gina Prince-Bythewood to ask about what's coming next, and how Quynh factors into that. So, Theron's Andy versus Ngo's Quynh and a bunch of other not-immortal but still very evil villains? Theron stars as Andromache of Scythia (Andy for short), the leader of a squad of immortal warriors who have spent centuries fighting for what they think is right, based on their lived experiences over all those years. Finally, there's Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne), a U.S. Marine and the low-key star of this story. Her awakening into immortality is a piece of what sets the movie's story into motion, and it's through her that we learn many of the rules of this world. The Old Guard on Netflix is a great reminder of how satisfying it is to see Charlize Theron kick some ass. Intriguing characters like Chiwetel Ejiofor's Copley and Veronica Ngo's Quynh beg for more development, but that will have to wait for another story. None of that takes away from the basic fact that The Old Guard is a welcome showcase of Theron's natural ability to lead an action movie with energy and deadly precision. The Old Guard is available to stream on Netflix starting July 10.