For anybody who has ever questioned the lack of female Minions, filmmaker Pierre Coffin has some answers for you.
The gender and sexuality of the tiny yellow troublemakers who first appeared in “Despicable Me" have been debated since the animated franchise’s original film was released in 2010. One widespread theory was that Minions were gender neutral, since they don both traditionally male and female attire. Other fans viewed them as boys who occasionally cross-dress: all of the Minions have male names, such as Stuart, Kevin, and Bob.
One “Despicable Me” enthusiast suggested that, if all male, Minions could be “the new gay icons,” as they demonstrate to children that “a little gender bending is fine!” and even kiss on several occasions in the first movie.
Now, as the "Despicable Me" spinoff movie "Minions" hits theaters, the filmmaker has spoken, and it’s official: all Minions are, in fact, male.
Why make such a choice in a time when male-dominated children’s movies are so rare?
“Seeing how dumb and stupid they often are, I just couldn’t imagine Minions being girls,” Coffin told TheWrap. According to the French animator, all of the title characters are voiced by male actors.
The film is not without female characters, of course: the villain, Scarlett Overkill, is voiced by Sandra Bullock.
But the gender imbalance has drawn criticism from some concerned parents.
“Why can’t we show children a fantasy world where gender equality exists? ‘Minions’ does the opposite, reproducing and in fact, managing to exaggerate sexism so that females have hardly any place or representation in the world at all,” writes one blogger, the mother of three girls. “I’m appalled and disgusted that movies like ‘Minions’ are allowed to be made in 2015 and shown to little kids, teaching a new generation to expect and accept a world where girls go missing.”
Despite such concerns, “Minions” opened at the box office with record numbers this past weekend, garnering $115.2 million in North America and making it the second biggest animated film opening in history. The film has received mixed reviews from critics, earning a 54% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Now only one question remains on the minds of movie-goers: if there are no girl Minions, how does the species propagate?
There are currently two competing fan theories to expain where the little guys come from. One is that regular humans are turned into Minions by a Minionizer machine, a ray gun-like instrument similar to the one seen on the Minions ride at Universal Studios theme park. Another is that they are cloned from a single strand of mutated DNA, as suggested by one of the short films.
Coffin has declined to reveal the exact origin of the tiny yellow henchmen so far, but the Minions aren’t done telling their story yet: they’ll be back soon enough in “Despicable Me 3,” slated to open in June 2017.