Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What happened to sex, love and romance in superhero movies?

Recent adaptations to Hollywood's bylaws state that every super hero deserves a big-budget summer blockbuster and, if that big-budget summer blockbuster turns a profit and helps studio executives by their teenage daughters fancier cars for their 16th birthdays, then that super hero deserves five big-budget summer blockbusters. It's why Robert Downey Jr. can command $100 million for The Avengers 2 and gloat about it in the press and it's why we're never more than 18 months away from the theatrical release of a Spider-Man movie.

What happened to sex, love and romance in superhero movies?

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FILE - This publicity photo released by Walt Disney Studios and Marvel shows Natalie Portman, left, as Jane Foster and Chris Hemsworth as Thor, in Marvel´s "Thor: The Dark World." Disney is previewing several of the studio´s upcoming live-action films for fans at the D23 Expo, Aug. 9-11, 2013, a three-day Disney extravaganza at the Anaheim Convention Center. "Thor: The Dark World," "Captain America: Winter Soldier," "Muppets Most Wanted," "Saving Mr. Banks" and "Tomorrowland" are just some of the movies that will be teased at a Saturday morning presentation. (AP Photo/Walt Disney Studios/Copyright Marvel, Jay Maidment, File)
FILE - This publicity photo released by Walt Disney Studios and Marvel shows Natalie Portman, left, as Jane Foster and Chris Hemsworth as Thor, in Marvel's "Thor: The Dark World." Disney is previewing several of the studio's upcoming live-action films for fans at the D23 Expo, Aug. 9-11, 2013, a three-day Disney extravaganza at the Anaheim Convention Center. "Thor: The Dark World," "Captain America: Winter Soldier," "Muppets Most Wanted," "Saving Mr. Banks" and "Tomorrowland" are just some of the movies that will be teased at a Saturday morning presentation. (AP Photo/Walt Disney Studios/Copyright Marvel, Jay Maidment, File)

Recent adaptations to Hollywood's bylaws state that every super hero deserves a big-budget summer blockbuster and, if that big-budget summer blockbuster turns a profit and helps studio executives by their teenage daughters fancier cars for their 16th birthdays, then that super hero deserves five big-budget summer blockbusters. It's why Robert Downey Jr. can command $100 million for The Avengers 2 and gloat about it in the press and it's why we're never more than 18 months away from the theatrical release of a Spider-Man movie.

While many of these films develop female characters and contain deeper meaning than "muscular guy in tights saves universe," the fact remains that genre films are largely male-dominated and engineered to appeal to the coveted 18-35 male demographic.

This, coupled with the perception that Hollywood's culture is exponentially risqué, would seem to suggest that these heroes would have a heightened sense of sexuality with each sequel and every reboot. But, as Esquire's Nick Schager points out, superheroes aren't getting laid, anymore.

Though the change isn't necessarily a bad thing—and could be a sign that some folks are working toward eradicating the gender inequality in superhero culture (what's up, Ms. Marvel?!)—Schager looks at the love lives of 10 of Hollywood's modern superheroes and examines the absence of romance in today's genre blockbusters.

Christopher Reeves's Superman shared undeniable sparks with Margot Kidder's Lois Lane, and Michael Keaton's Batman could barely withstand the heat radiating from Michelle Pfeiffer's leather-clad Catwoman. Yet ever since Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker and Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane Watson shared sincere chemistry in Spider-Man 2, superhero films have gone totally limp in the romantic — and sexual — department. Designed for multi-platform marketing and merchandising opportunities, our current Marvel and DC icons now have the libidos, and attendant relationships, of ten-year-olds. As Thor returns to the big screen in this weekend's The Dark World, here's a rundown of contemporary superhero asexuality. [Esquire]

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