Taika Waititi Considered The X-Files Approach For The Big Romance In Our Flag Means Death

A brief anecdote for context. In 1998, “The X-Files” feature film was released in theaters, presented as a stop-gap in between the show’s fifth and sixth seasons. For those first five years, the showrunners found many times wherein special agents Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) would display small amounts of sexual tension. Typically, the characters were professional, but small moments revealed what might be an intense mutual attraction. Mulder and Scully were an early example — maybe the most significant — of internet “shipping.”

The film features a scene wherein the situation had become desperate, and Mulder and Scully find themselves commiserating in a hallway. It’s a sweet, intimate moment that is just right for the two characters to kiss for the first time. Mulder then leans in. This author recalls the electricity in the air at his screening at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California. Just as their lips were about to touch, Scully whipped her head away. It seems a bee caught in her collar stung her right at that moment. The bedlam that arose in the theater in that moment nearly broke into a legit riot. There were many screams of the F-word. The sexual tension, it seems, would remain unbroken.

In an interview with IndieWire in July 2022, Taika Waititi acknowledged that Stede and Blackbeard could have easily stayed in the realm of “sexual tension” for years. However, he argued, that would have been cruel. They could keep the romance academic, or they could actually do something about it. Perhaps remembering the 1998 bedlam, Waititi preferred the latter.

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