Fandom History Files: Voltron: Legendary Defenders
Hello everyone! I’m Monster Review Girl, and welcome to the Fandom History files!
This will be a series of articles where I go into the history, fandom, and fandom history of a show, as well as fandom and internet phenomenon. For this, my first article, I’m going to cover the Voltron reboot, Voltron: Legendary Defenders!
I’ll be covering the history of the show (both vague plot overview and real-world history of the show), it’s fandom, and how the fandom shifted and changed to reflect the show.
Real-world History and Reception
Debuting on Netflix in mid-2016, the reboot of the 1980’s cartoon of the same name ran for 8 seasons, totaling 78 episodes. With each episode running about 20 minutes, that’s… 1,560 watch minutes, or 26 watch hours. So if you’ve got a day to yourself, with nothing else to do, grab some snacks and watch it.
If you don’t want spoilers, evacuate now! Seriously. Bail out. Go watch it and come back.
Now, this series was not without controversy. The biggest one that wasn’t spawned from its fanbase was the Shiro and Adam debacle. You see Shiro, the pilot of the Black Lion, was gay.
Adam was his ex-fiance that he’d broken up with before going off into space and having the wheels fall off. There were massive complaints due to how the writers handled Adam. By that we mean Adam getting off in the latter half of season 7. Shiro marrying someone else in the series finale’s “two years later” epilogue didn’t help. To which I have to say, Guys, do we need to see every second of a character’s interactions with another character to justify them getting together?
The creators answered the complaints with “We’re sorry, we wanted to handle this differently, but we were under certain restrictions for handling the LGBTQ community. Our bad.” and admitted that the wedding epilogue scene was an attempt at an olive branch they probably shouldn’t have rushed.
Now, on to the story. The story follows the humans Shiro, Keith, Lance, Hunk, Pidge, as well as the space elf Alteans Allura and Coran. as they try to fix the flaming outrage that is the Galran empire currently tyrannying all over space. It’s very Monster of the Week, but there’s enough of an overarching plot to keep the viewer invested. I wish I could go into more beyond the plot points I need to for this article, but there’s a LOT.
The first season focuses a lot on our merry band of five adjusting to their new environment and obligations. We find out that this incarnation made Pidge, the tech-savvy Green Lion pilot – into a girl. This was handled well by the writers, namely that the reveal that Pidge was a girl changed nothing about how the guys handled her.
There are a lot of points where characters learn things about themselves as people and it helps them grow as characters. Keith discovering his mother was a Galran rebel who fled Earth to protect him was a huge character moment for him, and even ended with him joining the same rebellion as his mother for a time. Don’t worry, the mom survives to the end of the show.
Allura learning ancient magics and using them several times is another moment for her, as it brought her closer to her deceased father. I mean, the woman can intimidate a much more experienced sorceress with sheer raw POWER, and perform consciousness transference. That is a FEAT and a half and I have to applaud the character and the writers on that.
The Fandom Itself
Now, sadly, on to the cringey bits of this. The fandom. The Voltron fandom had been a largely quiet one, content to enjoy the show through the veil of nostalgia. Then the reboot came, and with it came a modern fandom. And things got WILD. Like, death threats and doxxing level wild.
And if you’ve been living under a rock, doxxing is the illegal practice of revealing someone’s personal information publicly with malicious intent. The doxxing case involved someone wanting Lance and Keith to become a canonical romantic couple. This was despite Lance having Allura as a romantic interest before her passing.
All in all, I loved this show when I watched it, despite having to ignore the fandom. Could Shiro’s gayness and the issues that came from its representation have been handled differently? Yes. Did the fandom react appropriately? No.
So, go watch the show and enjoy it. Ignore the fandom and enjoy the giant robots and space opera adventure!