James Gunn Rebutts Soderbergh, Points To Superhero Sex In Films

Steven Soderbergh, Oscar-winning director of films such as Logan Lucky and Magic Mike, mentioned in an interview with The Daily Beast that he can’t see himself directing a superhero film because of the lack of sex portrayed.

Soderbergh said, “[F]or me to understand the world and how to write or supervise the writing of the story and the characters—apart from the fact that I can bend time and defy gravity and shoot beams out of my fingers—there’s no fucking. Nobody’s fucking!”

This prompted a Twitter response from James Gunn, acclaimed writer and director of Peacemaker and The Suicide Squad.

Gunn pointed out that there have been depictions of sex in superhero films. In 2021, Marvel Studios’ Eternals also depicted a sex scene, a first for Marvel movies, involving Ikarus and Sersi.

Gunn also mentioned how Soderbergh does have a point, stating that “But, to Soderbergh’s credit, sex seems to be nonexistent in many comic book films, so it’s not like his statement is groundless.”

James Gunn
Ikaris and Sersi in Marvel Studios’ Eternals

While Soderbergh’s response makes for an easily debunked zinger, the larger point about how blockbusters tend to focus more on the appeal of spectacles rather than being deep character studies still stands. The idea of characters having sex anchors the super-powered characters to a human experience, rendering them more human. This is the sort of portrayal that James Gunn balances well with comedy and absurdist antics.

As Gunn said, “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).”

Besides, the perceived lack of sex and the sterilisation of the act isn’t an issue exclusive to superhero films. In an article written by Raquel S. Benedict for Blood Knife, she opined that, generally, blockbusters’ presentation of beauty and sex is so stylised as to be unrealistic and inhuman.

James Gunn
The Suicide Squad

As more superhero films are released, we are seeing bolder directions and stories that don’t necessarily follow the hero’s journey template. For example, with the above-mentioned Peacemaker and possibly the upcoming The Batman.

If anything, the wide range of stories that superhero films have told has long proven that they aren’t just mindless popcorn flicks.

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