Screen Gems

Time for some hardcore action with ‘Star Wars” ambiguously gay couple

Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a re-watch.

The Shipping: Rogue One

The month of May brings a host of holidays: Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, and our personal favorite, Star Wars Day. Actually, some fans even like to celebrate Star Wars Days with May the 4th and Revenge of the 6th. Series creator George Lucas also turned 77 this week.

Hey, we always like a reason to play with our lightsaber.

With that in mind, we offer up one of this week’s helpings: Rogue One. The story, set in the days leading up to the original film, follows a group of misfit bandits led by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) on a dangerous mission to steal plans for the evil Galactic Empire’s new superweapon, the Death Star. Jyn joins up with the Rebel Alliance to infiltrate an Imperial base holding the plans, and to settle a decades-old score with Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), the man responsible for the death of her parents.

Despite a very tumultuous production involving hasty re-edits, extensive re-shoots and budget overruns, Rogue One is a terrific film that both expands the Star Wars universe as well as peppers a bit of fan service. What’s the queer angle, you ask? Rogue One also earned a distinction for the unofficial gay couple Chirrut (Donnie Yen) and Baze (Jiang Wen), a blind monk and a ruthless mercenary, respectively. While the relationship doesn’t present any explicit evidence that the pair are gay, the movie heavily implies through subtext and character beats that their relationship goes far beyond the bromantic.

Indeed, their relationship became one of the most commented on in the film as it feels far more passionate than the straight romance between Jyn and the roguish Cassian Andor (Diego Luna). No doubt some fans will complain that the film never addresses the nature of the relationship directly, and while they do have a valid point, sometimes treating a couple with coded subtlety is more fun. For that matter, we’re not sure how anyone could watch the pair in climactic battle and not think they’re madly in love.

With a cast that also includes Forest Whitaker, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, and–thanks to some groundbreaking technology–Peter Cushing & Carrie Fisher, Rogue One represents the second-best entry in the series since Disney took over the pilot seat. While the first act of the film shows signs of heavy edits and the characters, on the whole, aren’t quite as bright as the usual Star Wars roster, the third act of the film more than makes up for those minor flaws with a symphonic blend of action and drama. Imaginative, wildly entertaining, and with an all-but-named gay couple, we recommend it to celebrate Star Wars fandom and A New Hope to seeing some much-needed queers wielding the Force. (Sorry, but a patronizing blink and you’ll miss it kiss in the abysmal & insulting Rise of Skywalker does not count!)

Streams on Disney+, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, VUDU & iTunes.