Devon Thomas24 February 2023 | 10:00

'M3GAN': An aptly chaotic ascension of horror's next queer icon

Universal Pictures' 'M3GAN' destroys early allegations to a yassified 'Child's Play' (2019) both critically and commercially, ultimately birthing horror's (and the gays') next global superstar and worldwide sensation.

'M3GAN': An aptly chaotic ascension of horror's next queer icon

Theatrical poster for 'M3GAN' (2023). Picture: X/MeetM3GAN


Contains no spoilers.

In 2022, Universal Pictures released its trailer for the new would-be sleeper hit, M3GAN – a movie whose development I heard about way back in 2018, but did not rate at all.

The premise of the movie is simple, if not eerily similar to 2019’s Child's Play remake: an angsty child gets an AI robot doll to look after them and, at some point, it gets a little too protective.

Maybe it’s because I’m too attached to the OG Child’s Play franchise, but I could not feel more indifferent about the remake.

However, much like the rest of the internet, as soon as I saw Ms M3GAN (voiced by Jenna Davis) hit that choreo, I just knew she’d be a potential mother.

Fast-forward to 2023, and after finishing the movie, I can firmly say that M3GAN did everything Child’s Play failed to do.

See, unlike bootleg Chucky, M3GAN the killer doll has just the right amount of Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent to pull off its premise and birth a beloved franchise.

And unlike Child’s Play, M3GAN is camp enough to be ridiculously entertaining, but smart enough to pull off a surprisingly effective underlying depth to it.

Though the two have a fraternal twin-like similarity in their basic premise, in M3GAN’s defence, the two were under development around the same time, but Child’s Play just happened to be released first.

Ultimately, this worked out in M3GAN’s favour, because it was able to learn from and improve upon Child’s Play’s biggest flaws and emerge as the undeniable victor – achieving both massive critical acclaim and international commercial success.

It’s also low-key really funny how one of its creators, James Wan, was able to pull this off, after being partly responsible for bringing Annabelle (The Conjuring Universe), one of the most underwhelming ‘killer’ dolls in recent memory, to the fore.

Anyway, beyond its success with the general public, M3GAN, as the OG Child's Play franchise did after Bride of Chucky, had the girls, gays and theys in a chokehold only rivalled by Scream’s revival.

Judging by its (aggressive) marketing, I’m pretty sure the creators of M3GAN accomplished exactly what they set out to do.

In fact, in an interview with i-D Magazine, the movie's director Gerard Johnstone said that when designing M3GAN with his team, his primary intention was to birth an icon.

"When we were designing her, I was very specific with everyone that she has to be iconic... If anything didn't feel quite right, it's because it just didn't feel iconic enough."

And you know what? Underneath the blonde lace front, Burberry-adjacent coat, acoustic covers of twink-adored pop hits, unbridled femininity, and, of course, an absurd level of bitchiness, M3GAN contains a subtle at first subtext that most queer people can relate to on some level.

In the movie, its main protagonist, Gemma (Allison Williams), becomes the primary caregiver of her sister’s daughter, Cady (Violet McGraw), after her parents both died in a car crash (RIP to her dad because he was so hot).

At first, and pretty much throughout at least half of the movie’s runtime, Gemma, a roboticist, struggles to connect with Cady, having dedicated her life to her craft and being a girlboss with no time for kids.

In fact, it’s her initial cute moment with Cady where they bond over her interest in her robotics that Gemma is pushed to covertly finish her development of Model 3 Generative Android, aka M3GAN (using company resources on the down-low, I know that’s right).


Still image from 'M3GAN' (2023). Picture: X/MeetM3GAN

Still image from 'M3GAN' (2023). Picture: X/MeetM3GAN

For all intents and purposes, M3GAN functions as Cady’s second primary caregiver, built to fill in the (parental) gaps that Gemma is unable to: she’s caring, attentive, guiding, supportive, and, above all else, she’s protective.

Honestly, me predicting M3GAN to be a potential mother is so That’s So Raven of me (and the rest of the internet).

With this being a horror movie that veers more towards a dark comedy with horror elements, tbh, M3GAN turns overprotective just before the second act starts to feel like it's dragging.

Though it is undeniably entertaining to watch, it’s quite clear that M3GAN is supposed to be a commentary on the dangers of our hyper-investment in - and, subsequently, our increasing reliance on - AI technology.

But what I believe are the real reasons that queer people were able to latch on to M3GAN so easily were its underlying themes of trauma, loss, alienation, and, most importantly, the concept of the chosen family.

See, for most queer people, because of how the world is set up, a lot of us lose our blood family, and instead find our own family - a family that we choose, which in return chooses us.

A lot of us don’t get to have traditional familial bonds, pushing us to create our own.

Undoubtedly, this is exactly what happens with Cady after she loses both her parents simultaneously and is forced to, subtextually, find her own.

At first, this happens with M3GAN, after Gemma unconsciously denies her the opportunity to form that bond with her.

However, as M3GAN’s shenanigans become increasingly unhinged, Gemma accepts Cady with all that comes with that, sacrificing the thing that once meant the world to her – her career – to protect Cady at all costs.

And, damn, it is low-key really wholesome (and stressful) to watch unfold.

Just like us, Cady lost everything when she abruptly lost her family. But just like us, Cady was able to overcome her loss through being adopted by a family that ultimately chose her.

Giving M3GAN a heavily queer-coded 8 out of 10.

You can catch M3GAN in cinemas pretty much everywhere.