Marvel’s latest film, The Eternals, is making waves as the first Marvel film to feature a sex scene.
The movie is one of many firsts for Marvel featuring a largely diverse cast, representation for the Deaf community and the first LGBTQ2IA+ leads. The Eternals was banned in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait prior to its release after Marvel refused to censor LGBTQ2IA+ elements of the film for international release, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The movie was produced under the guidance of director Chloé Zhao. In an interview with Indiewire, she called the sex scene “a really beautiful thing.”
Sarah Cullen, a third-year St. Thomas University student, was surprised to learn about the scene, but relaxed when she discovered the film’s rating.
“When I looked up the PG-13 rating I was less shocked because then it’s not going to be a [graphic] sex scene,” said Cullen.
Cullen didn’t think the scene’s inclusion was inappropriate, so long as it remained inexplicit.
“Based on the type of sex scene you would have in a PG-13 movie, I don’t think it would be any raunchier than [the] dick jokes in Guardians of the Galaxy,” she said.
Cullen said that with the rating, Marvel gave plenty of warning on the content that would be displayed.
“If you’re taking a child to a movie as a parent, you should know what you’re in for,” said Cullen. “It’s on the parents, not so much the studios.”
Elizabeth Pellerin, a second-year STU student, said the scene’s inclusion is a sign of Marvel’s growth.
“People who grew up with [Marvel] are adults now,” said Pellerin. “I took the sex scene in The Eternals as them trying to appeal to an adult audience.”
Pellerin hasn’t yet seen the film but usually finds sex scenes unnecessary unless they’re needed for character development.
“I can’t see the characters in Marvel needing that,” she said.
Pellerin didn’t think younger fans should watch the sex scene and is worried its inclusion could alienate those whose parents don’t want them seeing the film.
“If [The Eternals is] going to be important for the next Avengers movie, you will need to watch it,” said Pellerin. “The place to experiment with [sex scenes] would have been something that’s not important to the cinematic lore.”
Brie Sparks, a second-year STU student, was happy about the addition of the scene.
“[Marvel has] only had a very non-realistic depiction of love between their heroes,” said Sparks. “[Love] doesn’t have those boundaries that we depict in a movie because we have to keep it a certain rating.”
Sparks said the sex scene’s inclusion is necessary due to the lack of intimacy in Marvel films despite Marvel’s theme of humanity.
“Heroes are just humans, even if they’re from another planet,” they said. “[Marvel has left] out this specific aspect of human life.”
Sparks didn’t think the scene’s inclusion was problematic. They said that the scene simply depicted another natural part of the world and that if someone really had a problem with it, it could easily be fast forwarded.
Sparks said the inclusion of the sex scene made them feel hopeful but frustrated.
They said with Marvel taking thirteen years to make a heterosexual sex scene, they fear it would take at least twice as long for audiences to see something that’s not straight.
The Eternals is also the first Marvel film with an openly LGBTQ2IA+ protagonist. Phastos, one of the Eternals, is gay.
Though Sparks supported the sex scene, they felt it was reductive to focus on the sex scene when there’s a milestone of having a gay protagonist.
“Because Marvel is owned by Disney, often they will edit [LGBTQ2IA+ elements] out for audiences like China or Russia,” said Sparks.
Sparks encouraged people to see the film and form their own opinion.
“Don’t let anything online stop you from experiencing something yourself,” they said.