Prior to becoming a go-to director for some of the biggest superhero franchises in the industry, James Gunn penned the script for a very different group of crime fighters: Mystery Incorporated. Gunn wrote the scripts for both 2002's live-action Scooby Doo and the 2004 sequel Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. Though the second film didn’t perform quite as well as the first, the franchise’s now-adult fan base has remained surprisingly vocal on social media, especially when it comes to Linda Cardellini’s turn as enduring queer icon Velma Dinkley. When asked on Twitter about making a third film featuring Velma as an out and proud lesbian, Gunn used it as an opportunity to tell the truth about his original vision for Mystery Incorporated’s brilliant sleuth.
“I tried,” Gunn assured his following. “In 2001 Velma was explicitly gay in my initial script.” The Guardians Of The Galaxy director then goes on to explain that the studio, Warner Bros., kept “watering down” all notions of Velma’s queer identity until the she was eventually saddled with a boyfriend in the sequel.
Gunn and members of the cast have previously spoken on moments that alluded towards Velma’s queerness, including a kiss between her and Daphne that obviously didn’t make the final version. “We did kiss,” co-star Sarah Michelle Gellar confirmed in an interview with Sci Fi Wire back in 2002. “It got cut.” The kiss was part of a body-swap scene between the women. “It wasn’t just, like, for fun. Initially in the soul-swapping scene Velma and Daphne couldn’t seem to get their souls back together in the woods. And so the way they found was to kiss and the souls went back into proper alignment.” Gunn later expounded on the inclusion and eventual erasure of that moment: “The movie was originally meant to be PG-13 and was cut down to PG after, like, three parents were outraged at a test screening in Sacramento. The studio decided to go a more family-friendly route. Language and jokes and sexual situations were removed, including a kiss between Daphne and Velma. Cleavage was CGI’d over. But, thankfully, the farting remained.”
Gunn isn’t the only creator who attempted to give Velma the freedom she deserved. Per Out Magazine, producer Tony Cervone intended to not only make Velma a lesbian in his 2010 animated series reboot Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated, he also planned on giving her a love interest in fellow character Marcie Fleach. When Cervone posted an illustration of the pair on Instagram against a rainbow backdrop, a user challenged the image, referencing Velma and Shaggy’s relationship in the series that ran from 2010 to 2013. “We always planned on Velma acting a little off and out of character while she was dating Shaggy because that relationship was wrong for her and she had unspoken difficulty with the why,” Cervone explained. He also took a moment to correct another user who incorrectly labeled her as bisexual. “I’ve said this before, but Velma in Mystery Incorporated is not bi. She’s gay.”
Warner Bros. has not commented on Gunn’s reveal as of yet.