There’s an ever-growing, frustrating trend in big-ticket genre movies when it comes to representing LGBTQ characters – studios want their backs patted for the tiniest steps toward including LGBTQ characters, only to then cut the scenes that would actually show this representation. And now, the new Jurassic Park is joining the list.
Daniella Pineda as Dr Zia Rodriguez in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Photo: Jaimie Trueblood (Universal Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)
Among Fallen Kingdom‘s new characters is Dr Zia Rodriguez, an ex-Marine turned paleo-veterinarian played by Daniella Pineda (The Originals).
Zia plays a pretty important part in the movie’s new ensemble of major characters – she joins Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire and Chris Pratt’s Owen as part of a team returning to Jurassic World in an attempt to save the stranded dinosaurs there from impending volcanic disaster. Then, when the film shifts gears into a sinister plot revolving around the sale of said dinos, she saves the day in more ways than one.
Zia gets some good lines; has some strong emotional moments; develops a playful, big-sister relationship with the film’s other main new character, Franklin (played by Justice Smith); and gets to kick some butt – as you’d expect a main character in a Jurassic movie to do.
At one point, she was also meant to reveal she’s a lesbian, except – try to be surprised – the part of a scene containing that dialogue was cut from the final movie. Pineda confirmed the scene and its cutting in a recent interview with Yahoo Entertainment, revealing just how brief the moment actually was:
I look at Chris [Pratt] and I’m like: “Yeah, square jaw, good bone structure, tall, muscles. I don’t date men, but if I did, it would be you. It would gross me out, but I’d do it.” I love that I’m looking at Chris Pratt, the hottest guy in the world, and I’m like, “It would gross me out, but I guess I would do it!” It was also cool, because it was a little insight into my character. But they cut it.
Some of the scene outside of that moment remains in the final film, and while describing Owen’s hotness is a rather weird way to reveal this information, its cutting means that the revelation of Zia’s sexuality is now absent from the movie altogether.
Pineda went on to explain that moment was cut because it was not “relevant to the story”, and with a lengthy runtime for the film’s original cut, its lack of importance in a plot about cloned dinosaur shenanigans meant that Fallen Kingdom now joins the likes of Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther in explicitly leaving representation on the cutting room floor for the sake of relevance.
And it joins a longer, even more frustrating list, including Star Wars and Fantastic Beasts, in just not being willing to acknowledge LGBTQ characters on film at all, while hoping to earn the platitudes of revealing a character’s sexuality anywhere but where it matters most: The text itself.
This is not demanding that Fallen Kingdom should have incorporated an entire LGBTQ-centric storyline around Zia at the expense of dino fun-times, as some people falsely argue is the slippery slope in the ever-growing debate around representing LGBTQ people in media. Representation comes in so many different forms, big and small, and all of them are still vitally important in a world where it’s still so hard to see queer characters in mainstream media. But it’s also so simple to address explicitly – just one line, one tiny step is all it takes.
And yet Hollywood’s biggest tentpole films are struggling to even acknowledge that LGBTQ people just exist. If these movies can’t even do that yet, when are they going to get around to including LGBTQ characters in storylines that are deemed to have the “relevance” for the fantastical worlds of superheroes, spaceships, dinosaurs and magic that are often used as an excuse for their absence?
We reached out to Universal for comment about the deleted scene, but had not heard back at time of writing. But it bears repeating: It should not be this hard to do something so basic.