Considering the quality, quantity, and diversity of films distributed under Warner Bros. Discovery and its labels, GLAAD has given Warner Bros. Discovery an INSUFFICIENT grade.
In theatrical releases, LGBTQ representation was minimal in most films, with small moments in Elvis and DC’s League of Super-Pets including blink-and-you’ll-miss it LGBTQ inclusion. The Batman included a very ambiguous interpretation of Selina Kyle, and could have easily confirmed her bisexuality to easily center LGBTQ representation, but failed to do so. Unfortunately, the theatrical film with the most LGBTQ inclusion was Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, which – despite its inclusion of gay characters – elevates and funds the voice of JK Rowling, who routinely spreads dangerous misinformation about transgender people.
In Warner Bros.’ streaming catalog on Max, there was much more inclusion present. From the teen queer characters in drama The Fallout, to inclusion in documentaries such as Call Me Miss Cleo and Santa Camp, these films center diverse LGBTQ stories. There is, however, room for improvement in romantic comedies like Moonshot and Father of the Bride, where casual inclusion was present but minimal.
Overall, GLAAD hopes to see Warner Bros. Discovery give the greenlight to LGBTQ-centric theatrically released films at the same level it has for streaming. This is especially notable when it comes to the DC properties, where there are several queer characters in the comics and beyond that have yet to make it to the big screen. It’s also worth noting that Batgirl was one of this report’s highly anticipated DC films for its trans inclusion and it is immensely disheartening for that film to get shelved while less inclusive films make it to theaters.
Founded by four Polish immigrant brothers as a movie theater business in the early 1900s, Warner Bros. evolved into a film production studio in 1923. Warner Bros. merged with Discovery, Inc. to form Warner Bros. Discovery in April 2022. In February 2023, Warner Bros. amended its initial plan to merge Discovery+ with HBO Max, now known as Max. As a result, Max will include “most” Discovery content and Discovery+ will remain an operational stand-alone streaming service. Warner Bros. has produced several acclaimed films, including Casablanca, A Clockwork Orange, Goodfellas, the blockbuster Harry Potter franchise, and multiple DC Comics adaptations.
One of Warner Bros. most infamous films, Rebel Without a Cause (1955), featured Sal Mineo as the tragic character Plato, one of film’s earliest recognizable gay-coded characters. In the decades since, the studio has released several LGBTQ inclusive films, such as Dog Day Afternoon (1975), The Color Purple (1985), Interview with the Vampire (1994), and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997); nearly all of which were based on external source material that included LGBTQ characters. Notably, many Warner Bros. films in the 2010s featured an abundance of unwarranted gay panic jokes and other cheap punchlines, seen in films such as Get Hard (2015), Central Intelligence (2016), and CHiPs (2017). More positive recent LGBTQ-inclusive releases from Warner Bros. include Alexander (2004), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), V For Vendetta (2005), J. Edgar (2011), Tammy (2014), Storks (2016), Crazy Rich Asians (2018), Isn’t It Romantic (2019) and Birds of Prey (2020), In the Heights (2021) and more. Max’s previous LGBTQ-inclusive films include GLAAD Media Award nominees La Layenda Nedra (2020) and Unpregnant (2020), as well as the documentaries LFG (2021) and Eyes on the Prize: Hallowed Ground (2021).