Guy Ritchie’s plan to turn Sherlock Holmes into an action star — a sort-of intellectual superhero for the 21st century — has been in the works for more than a year. And with a sinewy Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role, the first trailers have certainly showed off Holmes’ fondness for bare-knuckle brawling and diving headfirst out of windows with daredevil glee.
But the trailers also haven’t buried a central romance in the film — not the one between Holmes and Rachel McAdams’ Irene, but Holmes’ deep bond with his trusty sidekick and housemate, Watson, played by Jude Law.
“It does make a considerable difference to me, having someone with me on whom I can thoroughly rely,” Holmes saucily says in one scene, while at another point the two men bicker about how Holmes plays the violin late at night, can’t keep their living quarters clean and generally displays a complete lack of personal hygiene.
Sounds like an old married couple, no? That’s no mistake. Just as it was Ritchie’s plan to make Holmes an action hero, the director didn’t want to shy away from the somewhat homoerotic undertones that have existed in Holmes’ relationship with Watson since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle invented the characters in the late 1800s.
“Holmes and Watson have always been that couple,” Ritchie told MTV News. “My intention was to get away from the slightly stuffier, quintessential Victorian concepts of men and make them warmer and more accessibly friendly and make them more into the kinds of guys I’d liked to be friends with.”
Conservative critics have already taken wary note of the duo’s dynamic, yet the fact remains that their relationship is far closer to the bro-fest in “I Love You, Man” than it is to the sexual liaisons in “Brokeback Mountain.”
“As a heterosexual couple that at moments could seem gay, they play it off very well,” Ritchie said of Holmes and Watson. “These guys are sort of in love with each other. It’s real mateship. It’s trying to keep that balance. You have to endear yourself to them, and at times you skate on thin ice, because it’s such a relationship about two men.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time folks have detected homoerotism in Ritchie’s work. “I’ve been accused of this underlying theme in my films on more than one occasion,” he laughed.
But unlike his past, R-rated crime dramas “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “RocknRolla,” “Sherlock Holmes” is a family-friendly movie that comes out on Christmas Day.
“That’s really the idea — for it to be a family movie,” Ritchie said. “It has dark moments, but it’s accessible. I’m a dad, and I want to go to my movies with kids as well.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Sherlock Holmes.”
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