How Relatability Velma’s Nerdy Expands Inclusion in the World of ‘Scooby-Doo’

In early October, two weeks before Warner Bros.’s physical release. Home Entertainment on October 18 Scooby-Doo trick-or-treating!the animated feature had already sparked a wave of interest online.

While watching the direct-to-video digital debut, ardent fans learned that the movie did nothing but a few of its former creators do. Scooby Doo The universe has publicly attempted to do so in the franchise’s five-decade history. Director Odie Harrison gave Velma a female love interest in Coco Diablo, the costume designer behind all of these Scooby Doo bastards.

“Creating Coco Diablo was initially just a nice way to simplify some of the ideas in the story, but we quickly realized the dramatic and comedic potential of Velma’s crush on a villain,” Harrison says of the creative mechanics behind Velma’s quirkiness and love interest. “The evil head of the Fashion Crime Syndicate and Velma’s crush were two different people, but once we combined them into one, we realized the comedy gold that could emerge from such awkward complexity.”

with the trick or treat In the movie, the iconic character hasn’t shown a romantic interest in someone — which is generally a rarity for an obsessive teen detective — but someone else from a man. Besides the film cleverly juggling the series’ long-running treatment of Fred as the Captain and Daphne as the Girl, Velma’s story was driven by the director’s desire to explore “the comedic potential of these classic characters,” drawing inspiration from live-action comedy. an airport! And the The naked gun.

says the director, who participated in Scooby Doo The universe also includes the Scooby-Doo cartoon 2: Monsters Unleashed.

Fred, Daphne, Coco Diablo and Velma in “Treat or Treat Scooby-Doo”

Warner Bros.

The film, which was shown to fans in person a few days later at New York Comic Con, would see its historic moment quickly followed by another: the first look at the Mindy Kaling-led HBO Max animated series. film.

Premiering at the nation’s largest East Coast pop culture and entertainment convention, it offered the panel’s impressed audience a taste of how the upcoming adult animated comedy aims to handle the first Southeast Asian iteration of Filma. It was a creative move based on Kaling’s personal love for the character and personal belief that “a gang is in no way defined by their whiteness, except for Fred”—an idea that prompted laughter from the supporting audience.

Kaling and executive producer Charlie Grundy will also reveal during a 30-minute Q&A that their series will explore Velma’s sexuality. Although the duo has largely kept mum about how this happened, Velma’s voice actress and EP eventually addressed the “quadrant” in the room after the first episode aired.

She said, “I don’t want to give any spoilers, but a lot of the characters have sexual tension with Velma, which is fun.” “The journey of self-discovery for her is something that really drew us into this story and this character. So we want to honor other interpretations of what we think feels really fresh.”

When it comes to how well the show intends to focus on those identity-based elements narratively, Grundy notes that there will be “a cultural distinctness but with a really light touch”.

We don’t deal with big race issues. We don’t deal with the big issues of gender identity. “I think that was a lot of us deciding, ‘Okay, we have this really aggressive fuzziness and we want to do some kind of service for this. How can we do all these things? ”

While historically significant, Harrison, Kaling, and Grandy’s Velmas are not the first or only instances of the franchise portraying a character’s racial or sexual identity as something other than white or directly on or off screen.

2020 theatrical release Scoob! Her voice was seen by Golden Globe winner and Puerto Rican actress Gina Rodriguez. And in the late 2000s, actress and singer Hayley Kiyoko, who is half Japanese and has since publicly identified as a lesbian, played a teenage spy in two made-for-television live-action Cartoon Network movies, Scooby Doo! The mystery begins And the Scooby Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster.

Velma’s sexuality was of interest to James Gunn, who wrote the 2002 Raja Gosnell-directed Scooby-Doo movie. The writer-director has repeatedly referenced his unsuccessful efforts—admittedly at the time of the film’s initial release—to make Velma Linda Cardellini a lesbian. 2010 animated series Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated She found slightly more success with Velma writing as a lesbian through a brief on-screen crush, which TV series producer Tony Cervone acknowledged on social media.

Linda Cardellini as Velma

Linda Cardellini as Velma in Scooby-Doo

However, both the Halloween movie and upcoming streaming series are the clearest indications that the long-running franchise sees diversity and inclusion linked in some way to its continuation. He also points to Velma’s strength, in particular, as one of its best vehicles for doing so.

“I think Velma is very attached to a lot of different people because she’s the only one in the gang who isn’t ‘objectively cool,’” says Harrison. “Fred is confident and handsome. Daphne is bold and beautiful. Shaggy and Scooby are a pair of laid-back, cool (when they’re not terrified of monsters) guys. But Velma is a bit of a strange game. She can overthink and obsess over things, is socially awkward, shy and always loses her glasses.”

“Vilma is also a genius at what she does and totally owns who she is,” he continues. “So, in many ways, she’s the most realistic and likable character out of the group.”

During the NYCC panel, Kaling explained how Mystery Inc’s lack of cultural specificity—being a group defined more by its domains and roles than anything else—helped her see herself more in character.

“I always, growing up, got to know Velma. She was very cute but not traditionally hot — [she was] Super smart [with] “Very thick glasses, questionable haircut,” Kaling said. “I think most Asian American girls would see this skeptical, hardworking and underappreciated personality and could identify with her.”

For Grandi, Velma’s characterization was “the most defining”, but not in a creatively restrictive way.

“I watched the original and there is some canon, but they reinvented it. So it’s not like you’re doing Batman. That gave us a little bit of freedom.” film says EP. “And I think everyone has this feeling of ‘I’m the one doing all the work.'” I’m smart, but I’m not in the front seat. Fred and Daphne are in the front seat. I’m in the back seat with Shaggy and the dog. It’s not just ambition. It’s linked.”

While Velma is a character that all three admit is easy to force herself on, it is her personality and role within the group along with the comedy of the title that make her so narratively engaging.

“From a comics standpoint, she’s a great character. Velma is the smartest person in the room, but no matter what she’s not getting credit,” Grundy explains. “So what would it be like writing that person’s origin story when they were still So tough, before everyone in this gang gets started, when they can still be wrong from time to time and might be a little flawed? ”

While Harrison says there is a danger of “interfering” with the “magic formula” of Scooby Doo More than enough, he also notes that the franchise and Velma’s stamina across generations and cultures may be related to the IP’s evolving potential.

It can be impossible to define what makes the characters Scooby Doo very durable. Perhaps this is the appeal of their character designs. Perhaps their most beloved characters. Or maybe it’s just the right mix of fun and spook. Or it’s all just too cool,” he says THR. Whatever it is, I think these characters are so ingrained in our culture that the only way to keep them fresh and exciting is to see them evolve through different interpretations.

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