Another critically acclaimed director has now weighed into the argument on whether or not Marvel and other superhero movies are good for cinema as a whole. Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar is famed for films like Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Talk to Her, Volver and The Skin I Live In, but it seems he has little time for superhero movies, as he argues that they lack a crucial human dimension: sexuality.
Speaking during an interview at the Lincoln’s Center 50th Anniversary Gala, Almodóvar was asked for his take on the genre and said:
“There are many, many movies about superheroes. And sexuality doesn’t exist for superheroes. They are neutered. There is an unidentified gender, the adventure is what’s important. You can find, among independent movies, more of this sexuality. The human being has such sexuality! I get the feeling that in Europe, in Spain, that I have much more freedom than if I worked here.”
Now, that’s a quote worthy of a European arthouse director! And, of course, he’s absolutely right. Marvel Studios and Warner Bros.’ superhero movies are indeed curiously celibate affairs, with most characters either choosing heroism over relationships, or the subject of those relationships being an object of peril rather than a sexual partner. But there are some exceptions.
It’s pretty cute when Superman climbs into the bathtub with Lois Lane in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, the lead-up to the off-camera sex scene in Wonder Woman is quite saucy and, from the comedy end of the spectrum, there was a hilarious montage in Deadpool.
But Almodóvar really does have a point that most superheroes are fairly sexually repressed, with some arguing that prominent heroes like Captain America and Batman are probably virgins given their monk-like devotion to justice.
Of course, the obvious riposte to Almodóvar is to tell him to be the change he wants to see in the world. If he could take matters into his own hands and make a sexually free Marvel film though would he? It doesn’t seem like it, as he was asked this and said:
“You have to wait too long to see the results [with big movies]. I like being able to impose my opinion as a director. I’ve made 21 movies. I’m used to doing it the way I like, not fitting with the Hollywood system.”
Oh well, I guess we’ll have to wait a bit longer for the first truly sexually liberated superhero film. And no, Batman and Robin doesn’t count.