Nimona creator says Netflix’s new LGBTQ+ animated film has a powerful trans message

Nimona Netflix

The co-creator of Netflix’s upcoming queer animated film Nimona has said that “transness and gender fluidity” sits at its heart.

Based on ND Stevenson’s beloved graphic novel of the same name, Netflix’s upcoming animated feature Nimona follows a feisty shapeshifter, voiced by Chloe Grace Moretz, who comes to the aid of Lord Ballister Boldheart (Riz Ahmed), a knight accused of a crime. 

The character, who has the ability to transform into all manner of animals and people, has long provided an allegory for queerness since being created in Stevenson’s original 2012 web comic.

Now, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Stevenson (a trans-masculine, non-binary author who uses he/him pronouns) has spoken about using the character of Nimona as an outlet for his own battles – and why the upcoming Netflix series will keep hold of the “transness” at the heart of its story.

“She is a character with a lot of pain and anger at her heart, and that’s why she exists,” he said. “When I made her, I was doing it for my own catharsis.”

Starring opposite Nimona and the exiled gay knight Lord Boldheart, is the latter’s ex-boyfriend, Lord Ambrosius Goldenloin. The sub-plot of Boldheart’s exile at the hands of a former lover, an event which forces him to question the very society that once championed him, is yet another aspect of the feature that queer viewers of all backgrounds may be able to relate to.

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“It’s about who we really are versus who we think we are, who we are trying to be, and who we say we are,” Stevenson said.

On the state of the world that Nimona is being released into, Stevenson has said that the story, even to him, has taken on a brand new meaning. While there’s never enough stories about queer acceptance and chosen family, the current global political climate has shown a shift towards a less tolerant way of thinking.

“I don’t think that any of us expected the state of the world and current events to unfold exactly the way they have,” Stevenson admitted.

“I think that [Nimona] has always had this transness and gender fluidity at its heart, but there are lines that have new meaning now, even from the first time I heard them recorded.”

The futuristic fantasy comic about the shapeshifter was published as a graphic novel by HarperCollins and won an Eisner award in 2016.

Previously, staff at animation company Blue Sky Studios claimed that Disney bosses pressured them to censor an unspecified queer moment of the plot, and work on the film was stopped following the closure of Blue Sky Studios as part of the Disney-Fox merger. 

It was later picked up by Netflix and Annapurna Studios after members of the Blue Sky animation team founded their own company – Shapeshifter Films – to continue work on the feature.

Nimona comes to Netflix on 30 June.

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