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James Gunn Calls Out Steven Soderbergh Over Superhero Sex Criticism

James Gunn, DCU, Peacemaker, Eternals
By Russ Milheim

Superhero movies are easily some of the most-watched films in today’s day and age. Even with so many options for viewing in the genre, it’s no surprise that’s the case. The stories include different types of role models, intense action sequences and visual spectacles, a stunning variety of characters, and endless creativity. There is something, however, that most of them don’t have: sex scenes.

This isn’t shocking, seeing as the films are generally meant to be catered to both adults and children at the same time. Recently, however, things have been changing.

Most recently, Chloé Zhao’s Eternals included the very first MCU sex scene proper—something that surprised many people. In other parts of the superhero genre, 2016's Deadpool had Wade Wilson doing the deed, this year's Peacemaker got naughty, and 2017's Wonder Woman got down and dirty.

It’s been a slow change, one that legendary filmmaker Steven Soderbergh doesn't seem to have noticed.

Superheroes and Sex

In an interview with The Daily Beast, famous filmmaker Steven Soderbergh touched upon one of the aspects of superhero films that keeps him from connecting to the material: “Nobdy’s F*cking!”

In response to the quote, Peacemaker writer and director James Gunn was quick to fire back, declaring: “with all due respect, Steven Soderbergh, some people are f*cking.”

Peacemaker Trio Scene
Peacemaker

He went on to showcase pictures from his projects The Suicide Squad, Peacemaker, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 where sexual acts were either depicted or heavily alluded to.

guardians-yondu-scene
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

When being called out by a fan for being “a major exception,” the director was quick to retort:

“Me & Zack Snyder & Richard Donner & Chloe Zhao & Tim Miller off the top of my head. But, to Soderbergh’s credit, sex seems to be nonexistent in many comic book films, so it’s not like his statement is groundless.”

When asked why depicting the topic is even necessary in the first place, Gunn clarified how “it isn’t necessary in any single story,” but when it comes to a larger “sexless film universe,” then there’s a bigger need for it:

“It isn’t necessary in any single story. But to have an entire antiseptic sexless film universe is a denial of who we are as human beings (and how every single one of us got here).”

Eternally Sexual Deviants

Gunn is right: sex is a pillar of human existence and really, all of life itself. Including those actions and desires in storytelling humanizes it all, and at the end of the day, it's a natural element of living.

Obviously, the majority of superhero projects are family-friendly. So, while the act can technically make it into a story, it generally has to be more alluded to than shown on screen.

While Soderberg may have missed some of those recent sex scenes, they’re definitely popping up in the medium more than they did before. As the comic book film genre keeps expanding, the stories being told will likely start to become more comfortable with the topic, and the act will become more present than it is currently.

Even with that progrssion, it’s probably best not to expect it in a future Avengers movie.