Netflix’s queer animation Nimona praised by fans for same-sex kiss: ‘A movie I wish I had as a kid’


Netflix’s new animated adventure Nimona, which follows the mishaps of its titular shapeshifter, has been receiving rave reviews from fans. who’ve called the queer caper “gayer than the original”.

Based on ND Stevenson’s 2015 graphic novel of the same name, Netflix’s latest animated feature stars Chloë Grace Moretz as an anarchic shapeshifter who has earned plenty of love from queer fans.

Aside from its main character being described as a walking allegory for “transness and gender fluidity,” Nimona also contains a sub-plot that charts the relationship of Riz Ahmed’s Ballister Boldheart and his ex-boyfriend, Ambrosius Goldenloin (Eugene Lee Yang).

Released on the final day of Pride month, 30 June, Nimona has received rave reviews from fans and critics and fans alike and currently has at 94 per cent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

While one reviewer called it a “slick enjoyable package” and another said the film was “such subversive fun,” most of the praise has been directed towards the film’s queerness.

One fan tweeted: “Can I say how refreshing it is to have two gay leads where they both have cool, interesting arcs beyond ‘I am gay and trendy’?”

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Another said Nimona is the movie they “wish [they] had as a kid and we really need right now”, adding: “It’s badass. It’s explicitly gay and intrinsically trans. Watch it.”

A third viewer wrote that the film is “such a deeply beautiful, heart-felt and emotional queer story with simply the most raw and authentic representation [they] think [they’ve] ever seen in an animated movie”.

Ballister and Goldenloin’s lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers plot has been particularly well-received by fans. The pair share a kiss during the final moments of the film, prompting plenty more positive reactions.

The scene has been called “so f**king perfect” by one viewer, and even brought about a discussion with another’s young child, who reacted to the kiss with “no judgment, no bigotry, no confusion”.

The queer romance is part of the reason Nimona had such a hard time seeing the light of day.

The project began development at animation studio Blue Sky, before Disney bought the parent company, Fox. Work on the film ceased following the closure of the studio in 2021, as part of the merger, but anonymous Blue Sky staff members claimed in 2022 that Disney bosses had also pressured them to censor an unspecified queer moment of the plot.

It’s widely assumed that Ballister and Goldenloin’s kiss was that queer moment.

The film was saved when members of the Blue Sky animation team founded their own company – Shapeshifter Films – to continue work on the feature, and it was later picked up by Netflix and Annapurna Studios.

The success of Nimona, gay kiss included, has not gone unnoticed by fans who have taken the opportunity to criticise Disney for axing the project in the first place.

“The fact that Nimona was supposed to be the first Disney movie to include a gay kiss (in which the company takes so much pride) yet that kiss being the fact Nimona got cancelled, will never not be funny to me,” one viewer wrote. “Consider Nimona‘s existence a big middle finger to Disney.”

Another alleged that Disney “tried to bury” the film “when it was almost complete” – partially due to the “main romance between gay exes in conflict”.

Speaking about Ballister and Goldenloin, Yang told Entertainment Weekly: “It’s fascinating that there’s so much focus on something like a kiss because for us, and a lot of audience members – not even queer-identifying audience members – it’s just normal.

“It just makes sense for the characters. The whole time you see them, you’re like: ‘Well, y’all have definitely kissed a lot. Y’all are kissing all the time whenever the camera’s not on you’. So, having that nice kiss at the end, it’s so casual, but it feels so earned and normal.”

Ahmed echoed Yang’s thoughts, saying that while he’s “proud” of the moment, “those moments only feel like real wins when they’re not tokenised, when they are actually there because of the emotional truth of the character”.

Nimona‘s success stands in contrast to Disney’s recent track record of animated films. Elemental, Lightyear and Strange World, three of the latest offerings from Disney and Pixar, average 74 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Elemental also underperformed at the box office, marking the second-worst three-day opening weekend ever for a Pixar film, according to Reuters.

Nimona is available to stream on Netflix now.