Guardians of the Galaxy

The unnamed one-legged prisoner in Guardians of the Galaxy appears briefly and only as the butt of another character’s joke. When Rocket the raccoon devises a plan to break out of a galactic prison, one of the things he orders his companions to procure is the prosthetic leg of another prisoner. They take him seriously, probably thinking he needed the electronics from it. Peter Quill talks to the amputee prisoner, realizes the prosthetic leg is “wired in” to the man’s nervous system, and buys it off of him for 30,000 credits. (Why the man was willing to part with it for any amount was not explained, as he’ll presumably be serving out the rest of his prison term without it, and without a way to receive or spend the money.)

When Peter returns with the artificial leg, Rocket complains that he expected Peter to fight with the man over his leg, and that he had demanded it not because he actually needed it for the escape plan, but because he thought it would be funny to see the one-legged prisoner hopping around. In this way, viewers learn–if they haven’t picked up on it already–that Rocket can be a real jerk.

We can interpret the one-legged prisoner’s presence in the script as a way to show Rocket’s later personal growth, but it’s still problematic that the actor playing the prisoner is not an amputee himself… especially because Disney put out a casting call in 2013 looking for amputees and albinos to play aliens. Disney bafflingly still chose a non-disabled actor to appear as an amputee, no doubt necessitating even more CGI. So there were no amputees qualified to play the one-legged prisoner, and any actual amputees or people with non-standard pigmentation–both within the range of human variation–were relegated to the background as aliens.

Disney, you’ve been taking baby steps, but you still have a long way to go.

“Prototype”, by Viktoria Modesta

Billed as “the world’s first amputee pop singer”, Ukrainian-born Viktoria Modesta made the decision to amputate part of her left leg after suffering through fifteen surgeries on it. Her video for “Prototype” opens on a shot of a threatening minimalist icepick prosthesis and segues into a depiction of Viktoria as a Renaissance queen, permitting the Cardinals to work science and magic on her limb. Transformed, Viktoria is now capable of blinding the unprepared mundanes with the brilliance of her post-human leg. A Betty Boop-like cartoon version of her is portrayed as dangerous and subversive, enticing a young girl to want to pull a leg off her doll to be more like Viktoria.

Also present is a theme of government oppression, in which the prosthetic leg festooned with crystals is used to reflect a laser targeting beam onto the forehead of the Nazi-like official. Viktoria escapes into a minimalist landscape where she is transformed again into the Black Swan.