‘Wicked’ Trailer Portrays Classic Queer Experience (Wearing a Weird Hat and Then Everyone Laughs at You)

Glinda and Elphaba in the Wicked trailer

Witchy gays, theater gays, witchy theater gays, gather round, for at last we have a full length Wicked trailer to obsess over for the next just-under-200 days until part one of the on-screen Wicked adaptation hits theaters. (Every time I remember it’s a two-part film, I do want to scream????? But, alas.) GAY WICKED TRAILER THOUGHTS, LET’S GO.

“Are people born wicked or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?” Ariana Grande’s Glinda muses in voiceover at the start of the trailer. I have watched the trailer half a dozen times already, and I each time, I am gobsmacked at just how much Ari has transformed…everything about herself for this role???? And, of course, Cynthia Erivo’s entrance as Elphaba is appropriately DRAMA. The click-clacking heels! The hair grab! The infinity glasses! And from the very start of the Glinda/Elphaba meet-cute, it’s clear Erivo and Grande have got chemistry, which is truly the most important thing to make a screen adaptation of this musical work. I don’t care about how good or real the special effects, the magic, the flying look — give me simmering, sizzling chemistry between the leads! And all three minutes and 33 seconds of this trailer, thankfully, are indeed giving that. (For what it’s worth, the effects don’t look bad — or too over-the-top, which is what I was worried about — either.)

Glinda and Elphaba meeting for the first time

We watch as Glinda and Elphaba and Jonathan Bailey’s Fiyero begin their journeys at Shiz University, where Elphaba and Glinda are thrust together as roommates despite having very little in common. And, well, gay fans of the musical will tell you that this roommate scenario is brimming with homoerotic subtext and tension. Or, at least, this gay fan of the musical will tell you that, perhaps scream it to you drunkenly at a bar in Chicago in 2015 when she was newly out!!!!! Oh and Michelle Yeoh as Madame Morrible, headmistress of Shiz? Stunning.

Elphaba looking at Glinda who is looking in a mirror

We get an early taste of Glinda’s song “Popular,” and Ari’s voice is indeed made for this role. I am always torn about trailers for movie musicals, because I crave more music in them but also don’t want some of the bigger vocal moments to be spoiled ahead of time. I know certain song moments in the film will give me chills, maybe even make me tear up, because the Wicked music has been an important part of my little gay life for so much of it. I’m surprised we get samples from two of the best known — and most karaoke’d, in my experience — tracks: “Popular” and “Defying Gravity.” But it also makes sense: These are probably the songs even just casual viewers who aren’t as familiar with the original musical would know, making them a universally enticing teaser in the trailer.


Bowen Yang holds a witch hat

I’m gonna need Warby Parker to launch a Wicked eyewear line, stat.

As Elphaba’s powers grow, so does the tension between her and Glinda. Glinda lends Elphaba her grandmother’s dusty old witch hat, and when Elphaba dons it at a school function, everyone laughs at and makes fun of her. Wearing a weird hat to the function and then everyone makes fun of you? Even if we put aside the roommate bullying of it all, THIS IS A PROTOTYPICAL QUEER EXPERIENCE!!! And then Elphaba makes it even more queer by deciding to embrace the thing she’s ridiculed for, donning the hat for the remainder of the trailer. Making an accessory your personality? That’s queer culture and couture.

Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba in the Wicked trailer

The trailer hits a lot of the big emotional beats of Elphaba and Glinda’s enemies-to-friend-to-enemies arc, and again, the chemistry between Erivo and Grande is blessedly defying gravity. I can’t wait to see them sing together, especially on one of my personal favorite songs, one that really drives home some of the show’s queer subtext: “What Is This Feeling?”

Jeff Golblum’s Wizard also appears in the trailer, kicking up the central conflict of the story, wherein Elphaba is demonized and basically made an enemy of the state in the name of propaganda and social control. I can’t tell yet from the trailer, but I hope some of the sociopolitical underpinnings of the story are executed well in the film!

But this long-anticipated trailer does sufficiently drum up additional excitement for the film, even if I find it absolutely unforgivable that this is just a part one. Ari and Cynthia are stars individually and together!

Glinda and Elphaba looking in a mirror together

Now, time to put the original Broadway cast recording on 🔁.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 844 articles for us.


  1. So much breaking glass in the trailer. Hopefully it’s not all hokey CGI effects the whole movie overshadowing the performances. Because aside from that, the trailer did feel magical…

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