How M3GAN Went From Meme-Worthy Bomb To Box Office Hit

“M3GAN” may not just be about a killer doll, but it is still very much about a killer doll — a center-parted psychopath dressed like a Victorian schoolgirl crossed with a 1970s businesswoman. A four-foot menace whose eyes may be fake, but they can still judge everything she sees. A My Size Barbie come to life with an ice-cold demeanor and a sassy mouth. Perhaps not surprisingly, before the movie was even released she was declared a new queer horror icon (via Out). While Cooper attributed the movie’s (and character’s) popularity in the gay community to the film’s themes of found family, others have a more simple and blunt explanation: As one Twitter user put it, “she’s a fashionable, murderous doll that does cute dances and says c**** s***.”

As funny a reply as that might be, there are some deeper appeals to M3GAN besides her “camp little dancey dance.” Before the film was released, author and academic Joe Vallese spoke to Vox about the character’s imagery and her place in a continuum of “subverted femininity” that includes recent horror villains like The Babadook, the deformed mother living underground in 2022’s “Barbarian,” and Octavia Spencer’s eponymous “Ma.” 

As Vallese sees it, the limitations of sexual expression in a heteronormative society lead many queer people to identify with the characters who are considered monsters. “We think, we can’t be [‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ heroine] Nancy so we’ll be [Freddy Kruger],” he said. “We can’t be Laurie [Strode from ‘Halloween’], then we’re Michael [Myers].”

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