Disciplining Feminine Performing Bodies in Stephen Norrington’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
Keywords:adaptation, feminism, gender performance, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Alan Moore, Stephen Norrington, Kevin O'Neill, queer, sexuality, steampunk
Stephen Norrington’s film version of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) encodes a reified depiction of gender roles, punishing characters who blur boundaries between male and female gender performance. The primary non-conforming characters are Mina Harker and Dorian Gray. Gray’s death scene exemplifies his campy femininity and her penetrative masculinity: after Gray stabs Harker with his (phallic) sword cane, she in turn stabs him, putting him in the feminised position of being (sexually) penetrated. Harker and Gray’s relationship might suggest a condemnation of queer identities/sexualities, except that the eroticised homosocial relationship between Allan Quatermain and Tom Sawyer is presented positively. The ‘manly’ Quatermain and Sawyer are rewarded for their gender performance: Quatermain dies heroically, while Sawyer kills the bad guy. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen thus reveals an on-going challenge for queer neo-Victorianism: to avoid re-encoding Victorian gender and sexuality binaries and hierarchies that still shape patriarchal and heteronormative repression.
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