Despite the better efforts of fan-fiction writers everywhere hoping for Captain America and Bucky Barnes to act on their obvious tension, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has remained an almost entirely sexless affair across its 25 feature films so far.
But all that’s about to change with the arrival of “Eternals” next month, which among other major Marvel firsts, includes a sex scene between two main characters.
While plot details have been kept under wraps, fans suspect the scene will involve the love triangle at the center of the film between superhumans Sersi (Gemma Chan) and Ikaris (Richard Madden) and the at-least-for-now very mortal Dane (Kit Harington).
Speaking with IndieWire in an interview published last week, director Chloé Zhao addressed why it was important to show the physical act of lovemaking in the film and how it underscores her humanistic approach to filmmaking.
“From that moment to what you see onscreen there was definitely a lot of discussion about how to do it,” Zhao said. “But I think the desire to do something different is a very natural desire for where Marvel Studios is right now. I think it’s like Westerns coming into the revisionist period of the ’70s. I think it’s happening to superhero films — or at least we’re on the edge of that. And so these scenes just started to happen naturally.”
The scene in question was already included in the script for “Eternals” when the Oscar-winning “Nomadland” director boarded the project, but Zhao considers it an essential element of the film.
“For us to be able to show two people who love each other, not just emotionally and intellectually but also physically, and to have a sex scene that will be seen by a lot of people that shows their love and compassion and gentleness — I think it’s a really beautiful thing,” she added.
Early critic reactions to the scene described it as “very tame” and “very G-rated,” so keep your expectations low regarding just how steamy Marvel is getting in this new era. For decidedly more R-rated fare, fans noted that past heroes in Marvel television shows like “Jessica Jones,” which have yet to majorly intersect with the current MCU slate of films, featured more explicit and suped-up sexual encounters.
Chan was similarly drawn to this novel storytelling approach for the studio, telling Vanity Fair Italy last year that her character’s love story was “one of the reasons that attracted me to this project.”
Apart from the central romance, “Eternals” also features the franchise’s first openly gay superhero, Phastos (played by Brian Tyree Henry), who’s married with a child. The character was “written into the story” from the onset, Zhao explained, adding that she hopes his scenes won’t be censored when the film arrives in theaters around the world.
“I don’t know all the details but I do believe discussions were had and there’s a big desire from Marvel and myself — we talked about this — to not change the cut of the movie,” she said. “Fingers crossed.”
“Eternals” is set to open nationwide Nov. 5. Watch the trailer below.