Sex and the Superhero Movie
And so there came a day, when Roger Ebert’s usual pissy, off-hand dickishness about “fanboys” in a comic book movie review irritated me:
Young Steve’s Army confidante both before and after his transformation is the sultry Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), whose full red lips make her resemble a classic military pin-up of the period. He narrates their tour of the Brooklyn neighborhoods where he was picked on, and they grow close, but only PG-13 close, because Marvel has apparently determined that fanboys find sex to be icky.
This was in Captain America, a movie he actually LIKED. Don’t…don’t you worry about what he thought about Thor.
Anyway, this is an utterly moronic thing to say for a few reasons:
- It’s a fucking Captain America movie that he’s complaining doesn’t have a sex scene. You know two other movies that didn’t have sex scenes? Indiana Jones and The Rocketeer. Would The Rocketeer have been better if we’d seen early-20’s Jennifer Connelly naked? Of course. BUT FIND ME A MOVIE YOU COULDN’T SAY THAT ABOUT.
- I realize the “Marvel has apparently determined” is an important part of that sentence, but if he was really placing the blame on the studio, he wouldn’t have used the words “fanboy” and “icky.” He could have said “Marvel has apparently determined that movie audiences don’t want to see attractive people having sex,” if this was really his point. Instead he went to the “comics fans are arrested adolescents” well he always goes to. So, fuck you, Ebert.
- And if he WAS laying the blame at studios for not giving “fanboys” the cosplay banging they so richly deserve to watch, well…I don’t have the sales figures for “Batman XXX” or “This Ain’t Avatar” on me this moment, but I think I can safely say don’t you worry, Roger Ebert, other studios have this covered!
But as Braak pointed out in his Thor review, and I mandated in my Hawkman pitch, of COURSE there could be more sex in superhero movies, if superhero movies weren’t intended to appeal to as large an audience as possible (ages 8 to 80, or whatever).
(Yeah yeah, I know, “Why is sex not okay, but excessive violence is?” Do you want to be here all day or not?)
Anyway, this got me thinking: how many superhero movies actually explicitly show that the hero has had sex during the runtime of the movie? I can only think of four, really:
Batman – Bruce Wayne gets Vicki Vale drunk, has sex with her, hangs upside down doing tai chi in his stupid rich-guy exercise device (or whatever) rather than stay in bed with her, then lies about his plans to get her out of the house. Because Bruce Wayne is ALL CLASS.
Daredevil – Elektra coaxes Matt Murdock to lay her down by the fire rather than go out and punch out another street punk in front of his kid. Now, ignoring that this doesn’t seem a very Elektra-y thing to do (which is okay, because if this was the Frank Miller Elektra we were talking about, it would be utterly terrifying), it fits pretty well in the movie’s arc.
Iron Man – Tony has Pepper toss his one-night-stand out on her ass. But that’s pre-hero Tony Stark so it’s still a little classier than Bruce Wayne’s “Hey, two drinks and I’m flying” bullshit.
Incredible Hulk – Well, more like “threat of sex”: Bruce and Betty start getting frisky, only to be cockblocked by Bruce’s escalating pulse. It’s…actually kind of a cute moment.
Am I missing any? God knows Peter Parker didn’t get any.