Eternals Director Explains Why MCU’s First Sex Scene Is Important
Eternals director Chloe Zhao explains the importance of MCU’s first sex scene. Zhao won an Oscar recently for her direction of Nomadland. This film, which starred Frances McDormand and was heavy on emotion and dealt with complex themes. She is a Chinese-born filmmaker who has dealt with many mature topics in her past efforts. This made her an appealing choice to tackle Eternals, a film that features a variety of characters trying to fulfill their mission on Earth as protectors.
Eternals stars Richard Madden and Gemma Chan. Kit Harington, Angelina Jolie, and Salma Hayek are also in the film. Madden and Chan play Ikaris and Sersi. They are a couple at the beginning of the film but have recently split up with Sersi and Harington’s Dane Whitman. This film is about a love story between these characters who see the world differently and thus affect their relationships.
Zhao spoke to Indiewire about two main characters having sex scenes. This is a first for MCU films and was evidently in the treatment before the director’s appointment. Zhao said that there was “much discussion” over how to depict the scene. It eventually appeared in the final cut. Although it isn’t clear which of the main characters appears in the scene (even though the film’s love triangle between Dane, Sersi, and Ikaris is a major part of the film’s story), it’s likely to include both of them. Zhao explains that the sex scene is a natural progression. This stems from her “desire for something different” at Marvel. She also says it’s a “very natural desire” right now. Zhao compares it to the revisionist period of 7os, where the natural tendency to take on more risk is evident. Zhao equates it to a “beautiful onscreen expression”:
“I think it’s really beautiful to be able show two people love one another, not only emotionally and intellectually, but also physically. To have a sex scene which will be seen and appreciated by many people, that shows their love, compassion, and gentleness, I believe it’s amazing.”
This may be a first in the MCU films, but it is not the first for the entire MCU. Netflix’s Marvel series has many explicit sex scenes. Jessica Jones had some particularly steamy scenes that wouldn’t make it to a theatrical release. While Deadpool may not be considered canon, the Fox-produced films had some explicit scenes featuring Ryan Reynolds and Morena Baccarin.
It may have the first MCU theatrical scene of sex, but it isn’t the first time that sex or nudity has been featured in a Marvel movie. The MCU is under Disney’s umbrella, so the chances of more explicit sex scenes are very distant (if ever). There’s no reason to keep the children out of the theater yet. Depending on the context and the way it’s presented, it should be acceptable for PG-13 audiences. Zhao makes a great point about how the superhero genre will naturally evolve with more mature themes. The desire to tell complex stories will undoubtedly be a factor as it sits higher up in the movie food chain.