In an effort to build a space for queer people like myself, every Tuesday I’ll be posting interviews, opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx/WOC community since I am Latinx.) Welcome to Queerly Not Straight! Enjoy and leave a comment below if you have a suggestion for what I should cover next.
Greg Rucka, the brilliant mind and writer, behind Netflix’s The Old Guard, sat down to talk with Fangirlish about what drives his stories, finding hope, and the queer characters/storylines that he’s adament are part of the human experience. From Joe and Nicky to pansexual Andy, we’ve got plenty to break down when it comes to this critically acclaimed superhero movie! So, sit back, relax, and join in on our conversation with Greg Rucka.
1. At the end of the day, The Old Guard is a story about death and making the most out of your life, however long it may be. How has this message changed and grown for you, especially when making it into a movie?
I think one of the reasons why the movie is doing so well is that the core message and the extension of it, that you certainly get at the end of the movie, it’s even more resonant and relevant right now than it was when we wrote it initially. And it’s important to recognize in the original comic, there isn’t at the end, this same sort of clarity about the good ones in the world and why we do it. We do it because it’s what we should do. We should try to make things better for everyone.
In the original series, it was far more about Andy regaining some sense of hope with which she can continue moving forward in her life. And Nile certainly brings that to her. But I certainly think in the movie, not only do we have that, but we have a very beautiful statement about the interconnectedness of people and how what we choose to do on any given day can have incredibly profound effects in making the world a better place.
And we may never ever see the results of it. As Nile says, “We’re in it, we can’t cheat it.” I do think in an age that my decision to wear a mask when I can go outside can save the life of someone in Colombia, when I’m in Portland, Oregon, that’s incredibly relevant to the moment we’re in right now.
2. Why was the LGBTQ relationship so important to keep in The Old Guard when it made it’s transition from book to screen?
Well, one of the things that we wanted in the world broadly is this sense of representation. And it was very important to me that it not be…well, “If you do this, if you do that, and this, then you become immortal.” Or you have to be this kind of person to become immortal. And it needed to be for reasons that maybe will become clear if we ever get to do more of these stories. It needed to be egalitarian approach. And I wanted a very diverse one.
I wanted it to be inclusive. And that was something that Leandro Fernandez and I were adamant about. I wanted as many people as possible to be able to see themselves in this story. And I personally think that’s a choice you make as a writer. And if you’re deciding there’s no way in for other people then you are making deliberate choices in this day and age. If you are not attempting to reflect the world around us, that is a choice you are making.
I wanted to reflect the world honestly and the honesty of the world is, “Guess what? There are queer relationships! And there are others besides white males. So, lets go!”
3. Seeing the reaction to Joe and Nicky has been so amazing. How has it been for you?
It is wonderful and incredibly gratifying. And honestly, I’m a little saddened. Others have written about this, “Why is it 2020 and this is the first time we’re apparently seeing representation like this?” This was not hard. Nobody ever said, “Hey guys. Maybe you shouldn’t.” I mean it was just a decision from the start. And I had a discussion with Skydance, when I was developing the property for them, and this is before Netflix came on board. We were on the second draft and I said in passing that I was somewhat surprised that I haven’t gotten a note about that scene in the armored car. And they looked at me and said, “If that scene hadn’t been in the script I would’ve demanded to know why? That’s one of things we wanted. That’s why one of the reasons we wanted to make this.”
So it’s clearly a decision that could’ve been made a while ago. There’s a lot of this movie that you can say that about. It shouldn’t have taken this long for an African American woman to direct her first superhero movie. There’s a whole lot that we can apply to that. And I don’t think anyone of us were sitting there and went, “We’re gonna be the first people to do this! Haha, let’s plant a flag!” It was just the way that we wanted to do it.
4. Who would you like to see included in The Old Guard if you get a sequel?
[laughter] I can’t answer that because if I answer that I’m showing my hand of what I have planned should I get to write a sequel. I will say I’ve had a couple discussions with people about the way that the story goes. And we do have an actor in mind for a part.
5. In the comics, Andy is seen sleeping with a woman. And you don’t get to see two queer couples in one medium as often as we’d like. How was that for you, writing that in?
Now let’s talk about how I view the pathology. Andy is very very old and one of the things that I concluded about The Old Guard, about the immortals, was that they don’t just don’t have time for bullshit. And the idea of gender norms and binary sexuality, you can’t get to 150 years old and not have some conclusions about the nature of human beings. And one of the first things that you need to realize is that people are people. No matter where you go, or where they’re from, people are people.
So, Andy…another thing that you have to remember is that homophobia is actually a really recent Western development in human history. It actually is a very Western culture thing. And that’s not Andy’s world. That’s just not where she’s from. So the idea that she would ever make decisions based on gender…it’s about who she’s attracted to. And that’s what worked, that’s her. I wouldn’t even classify her as bi as much as I would pan.
Joe and Nicky are gay. They are not experimenting with each other after a thousand years. And they’re unquestionably tied to each other. It’s just people being people. And neither one of them can look at somebody and say, “Because your skin is this pigment, or your religion is of this belief.” They’re just so past it. And they’re their tolerance for that kind of behavior is nil. Like the quickest way to piss one of them off is to throw a racial slur or a religious slur.
Like Joe says in the armored car, “It’s infantile.”
6. That scene in the back of the truck might’ve been the most romantic scene we’ve ever seen for a queer couple and we wanted to thank you for it.
I’m really glad that it connected with people. It’s really a declaration of love. And I actually got an email from a fan where I believe it’s his 30th wedding anniversary coming up. He’s in a straight relationship and he wanted to ask if he could use that speech to renew his vows. And so I think that speaks to the speech. It is a declaration of love and not to sound cliche, love is love.
The Old Guard is available on Netflix.
Queerly Not Straight posts every Tuesday with opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx community since I am Latinx.)
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