Do Villains Have More Fun? Comments From DC on Sex Scenes in Harley Quinn Point to “Yes”
Heroes wielding supernatural powers are looked up to by the masses. People like Captain America become a symbol of hope and goodness. Captain Marvel is an inspiration to young girls everywhere. But have superheroes sacrificed the ability to have fun to maintain their picture-perfect image? With such high expectations put in place by both comic-loving audiences and fans in their respective story worlds, it seems unlikely that our heroes will ever get a chance to break free. In a recent discussion about sex scenes in Harley Quinn, it’s been revealed that DC is always a fan of some wild times, but only if it’s villains.
Have Superheroes Ever Been Allowed To Be Sexy?
Think back to moments in comic adaptations that stray from a PG rating. There is Margot Robbie dancing seductively in Suicide Squad, made especially for the male gaze. But what about the heroes? Wonder Woman 1984 brings us some off-screen lovemaking once Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) are reunited. Beyond these mostly family-friendly moments, DC Films has let their ratings be bumped up from violence, not from tenderness.
When it comes to Marvel, almost all instances of something beyond a kiss occurred in the Netflix-Marvel shows like Jessica Jones. And we had our fair share of intimacy there. But Jessica has never been just a superhero. Rather, she was marketed to us in terms of her inner desire to be a little bit of a vigilante, and we know that she’s had plenty of slipups. Meanwhile, heroes like Iron Man may allude to having a bad boy lifestyle, but it’s seldom explored on-screen. The Marvel-Netflix collaboration may have been willing to push the envelope in ‘adult themes’, but Disney+ would never.
DC Reveals Too Much (?) With Comments on Sex Scenes in Harley Quinn
Fans of the DC Universe are all-too familiar with the raunchy animated series Harley Quinn. It is a super property that has never failed to keep its moments of provocative fun, bad language, and excessive violence at just the right level. Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are allowed to be shown naked in bed together, but you will not be catching Batman in any such compromising situation. In a recent interview with co-creator Justin Halpern, he revealed that they tried to make a love scene with Batman and Catwoman. The scene in question involved Batman performing oral sex, but the idea was immediately shot down. According to DC, they “absolutely cannot do that.”
But why? “Heroes don’t do that.” Explaining only slightly further, the excuse given was that it becomes a question of selling children’s toys. Past decades of comic book promotion, selling tickets to DC and Marvel films, and encouraging the idolization of heroes have allowed this PG-rated dream lifestyle to become a tradition within the genre. Villains, however, will continue to have the opportunity to be as sexually free as the writers can imagine. Halpern comments on how gratifying it is to have the “leeway” given to villains compared to their slightly more morally good counterparts.
(Image: Harley Quinn, WB Animation
Does Permitting Love Scenes From Villains Only Send The Wrong Message?
It’s up to individual families to decide what is age-appropriate for their children, and we aren’t here to comment on whether a cartoon clearly for adults is or isn’t. But Harley Quinn proves that it’s not just the family-friendly films that have this clear distinction between what heroes are allowed to do compared to villains. This HBO Max series is designed for an adult audience but they are (unintentionally?) sending the message that villains have more fun.
Does the ultimate answer come down to how these film and television executives see sex-scene-worthy topics? If lovemaking scenes are all given to the villains, it sends the message that intimacy goes against some pure and chaste message that heroes are designed to send.
We don’t need to see every superhero get into bed, but being forbidden from the odd scene or two sends a message that slut-shames the villains as if their acts of intimacy are only accepted because we know they’re bad anyway. As Sheila Broflovski says in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, “Remember what the MPAA says; Horrific, deplorable violence is okay, as long as people don’t say any naughty words!” We’re cool with violence. But these two adult characters better not have any consensual and mutually-respectful sex!
She can dress sexy, but how dare she take control of her sexuality? Image via Warner Bros.
DC and Sex Scenes In Harley Quinn Tell Us Everything We Need To Know About Comic Adaptation Appropriateness… Or Do They?
Many sex scenes or moments of nudity in film and television seem gratuitous. Like in the first few Game of Thrones seasons, they almost feel like they’re there just to get the people talking. And hey, it works! Talks of the first seasons were more about the sex than the dragons. But if your series is going to lean into the gratuity, we say that the heroes and the villains should be treated equally.
The first two seasons of Harley Quinn is currently available on HBO Max, and season 3 is expected in late 2021 or early 2022.
Readers, we want to hear your thoughts on the deleted sex scenes from shows like Harley Quinn and intimacy in general in the DC and Marvel universes. Do you see any problems with watching our heroes get busy? Drop your thoughts in the comments!
Featured image via DC Universe.
Meghan Hale is the kind of movie lover that has a "must watch" that is a mile long... and growing. When she isn't talking about the latest film and television news she is writing one of her many in-process novels, screaming film trivia at anybody who will listen, and working as a mental health care professional. Follow her on Twitter @meghanrhale for some fun theories and live reactions to all things entertainment.