There are many far-fetched moments in belated sequel Independence Day: Resurgence, not a great surprise given that the first film saw the entire world saved by a computer virus. This time around, we have the shock arrival of a 3,000-mile-wide spaceship (someone understandably remarks: “How did we miss that?”), a psychic connection developed between an African warlord and an alien race, and Lars Von Trier’s muse Charlotte Gainsbourg actually starring in the damn thing.A 'straight-acting' problem: why mass market gay films increasingly fail us all Read moreBut the scene that emerges as the real head-scratcher takes place in a hospital room as a man awakes from a 20-year coma to the shock of his long-term partner. The scene is set for a romantic embrace, a passionate kiss two decades in the making but ... it never comes. Why? In a film that offers up bland hotties Liam Hemsworth and Maika Monroe in many a clinch, why are we deprived tenderness after such a momentous reunion?Well, there’s a rather major difference between the couple in question and every other couple in the film or, in fact, any other blockbuster this summer. They’re both men.When openly gay director Roland Emmerich talked up the sequel to his 1996 alien invasion hit, he remarked that we would see a same-sex relationship on screen, a distinct rarity in the world of the Hollywood blockbuster. We have a gay couple in the film,” he told the Hollywood Reporter in 2015. “We don’t make a big deal out of it. You start small and then you get bigger and bigger and bigger, and one day you have a gay character as the lead and nobody will wonder at it no more. But we’re not there yet.”As I sat down to watch Independence Day: Resurgence, I started to wonder whether the couple had even made it through to the final edit. Any reference was entirely absent from all publicity materials and as the film progressed, I was struggling to define any of the relationships as gay. I even started to find sexual tension between the aforementioned warlord and a geeky accountant given the repeated alien-killing references of “getting them in the back”. Facebook Twitter Pinterest The cast and director of Independence Day: Resurgence, book-ended by the film’s gay couple, played by John Storey and Brent Spiner. Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty Images Given that blockbusters are full of romantic reunions, is a same-sex kiss or clear statement of love much to ask for?But it’s only in the final reel that we discover who the same-sex characters really are. As aliens battle their way to steal a chatty orb (don’t ask), Brent Spiner’s loopy coma-waking scientist and his co-worker, played by John Storey (both of whom starred in the first film) hold hands in solidarity. After one of them gets hit, a swiftly emotional death scene follows which has one use of the word “baby”, a joke about knitting and some final clues to the nature of their relationship (“Who’s going to make sure you wear your pants in the morning?”). That’s it. A gay superhero? Yes please! Just not Captain America Read moreNow, I wasn’t expecting graphic gay sex in a film aimed at families, but the embarrassing Hays Code coyness of it all meant that one could still watch the film and just see them as really good friends. It’s unclear where the fault lies. Was the overly sanitised nature of their relationship the result of a tussle between Emmerich and Fox (who would have surely been thinking of the effect it would have on not only conservative American viewers but the stringent Chinese censors) or was the script always playing it overly safe?It wouldn’t be the first time that Emmerich has struggled in this field. His low budget drama Stonewall, about the LGBT riots in 70s New York, emerged as one of 2015’s most universally loathed films. Emmerich’s handling of gay characters was shaky, even in a film solely about gay characters, and he faced criticism for referring to his twinky lead as “straight-acting”, a phrase loathed by many for its suggestion that masculinity is a performed trait for gay men.Glaad calls for gay characters in Star Wars: Episode VIII Read more Facebook Twitter Pinterest Independence Day: Resurgence: aliens return in trailer for sci-fi sequelBut it also wouldn’t be the first film to include gay characters but then shy away from anything that’s “too gay”. While Jonathan Demme’s Aids drama Philadelphia might have deserved plaudits for broaching an issue that most were too scared to go near, the closest we had to affection between the lead gay couple was a bit of dancing. The Oscar-winning Benedict Cumberbatch drama The Imitation Game was equally criticised for shying away from including too much of Alan Turing’s sex life while other biopics, such as A Beautiful Mind, just removed any reference completely. LGBT representation in films with $100m-plus budgets has been even worse. Fan fiction and Twitter petitions have yet to result in a blockbuster that deviates from heteronormativity and gay characters in blockbusters have remained virtually invisible (the recent online excitement over what appeared to be a lesbian couple in Finding Dory turned out to be predictably for nothing). Emmerich then deserves a vague passing grade. In 1996, he included a flamboyant Harvey Fierstein whose sexuality might not have been disclosed but assumptions were made. Twenty years later, he’s edging us closer to something resembling an accurate reflection of the real world but the progress is painfully slow. Facebook Twitter Pinterest The ‘lesbian couple’ from Finding Dory. Photograph: Disney/YouTube Films reach millions of teens globally, many struggling with their sexuality, deprived of supportive mainstream imageryFor anyone who questions why sexuality is even an issue in films about fantastical sci-fi plots, my response is that, well, it isn’t. I’m not asking for Luke Skywalker to pause Jedi training to deliver a speech about gay rights, or for a clumsily inserted scene of Indiana Jones showing off his latest find in a gay bar just t走到天涯海角去打一肖
o tick a box, but given that blockbusters are naturally filled with jeopardy and demographic-pleasing romantic reunions, is a same-sex kiss or clear statement of love that much to ask for? If the gay couple in Independence Day: Resurgence had been straight, we would have known this was the case. Not through sweaty end-of-the-world sex but via the small touches, visual and verbal, that usually give a couple away. After all, this is not a film about subtlety or interpretation.These films reach millions of teens globally and many of them are struggling with their sexuality, deprived of mainstream imagery that supports their biology so such inclusion remains vital. Failing to provide legitimacy on a mass scale is harmful and further ghettoises the LGBT community as other. If we can believe in an alien queen rampaging across Nevada, then surely we can believe in a gay man sharing a small, but meaningful, kiss with his partner. In IMAX. And 3D.