When word came down in August that Guardians of the Galaxy, the planned 2014 Marvel movie about an oddball group of superheroes including an interstellar raccoon and a talking tree, was actually a backdoor introduction of Carol Danvers, the badass Air Force pilot who is now Captain Marvel, I was ridiculously excited. It’s long past time that Marvel added a female superhero (as opposed to simply a well-trained human woman) to the on-screen Avengers lineup, Danvers’ military pedigree would lend her some interesting synergy with Captain America, and she’d be a fascinating way to get a well-credentialed action actress like Katee Sackhoff into the franchise. But since folks have uncovered an old blog post by James Gunn, who is both writing and directing the movie, I’ve gone from enthusiastic about the project to straight-up terrified about it.
The post is Gunn reporting the results of a poll he did with readers about which superheroes they’d like to have sex with. It was deleted — and you can see why — but it’s available in Google Cache. And while I don’t necessarily oppose the idea of this kind of poll — superheroes are designed to be fantasies — the way Gunn wrote up the results reveals some pretty horrifying ideas about superheroines, both inside the bedroom and outside of it.
On Emma Frost, described as the woman of choice for “those men who love rude bitches,” Gunn says “What I love about Emma is the practical attire she wears while adventuring. Certainly, if I were a woman fighting giant monsters I’d want to wear some awesome breast-mushing halter top, a pair of panties, and thigh highs.” On my beloved She-Hulk, “I ever were in the mood to be dominated and treated like a little bitch, by someone who is green, then She-Hulk would almost certainly be the way to go.” Then there’s this little bon mot “Disco Dazzler, Rave Dazzler, and Punk Rock Dazzler, they all have one thing in common — a friggin’ GREAT vagina.” On Kitty Pryde: “I wrote her back [on Twitter], but neglected to mention that I wanted to anally do her. I won’t even mind if Lockheed is in the room, staring at me with a creepy look the whole time.” There’s slut-shaming of Batgirl: “Being a teen mom and all, you know she’s easy. Go for it.” There are nasty objectification fantasies, like this one of Spider-Woman: “The whole time I’m fucking her I can’t get her face out of my mind as the Skrull leader who tried to conquer the world. I know it’s not her fault, but I just can’t help it. So I finish on her face to help block out the painful memories.” A lot of “this woman is messed-up so she’s sexy,” a la Cassandra Cain: “Cassandra’s father taught her how to kill people when she was eight. Which means she has the ultimate daddy issues. Which means she’s just my type.”
Then, there’s the charming homophobia! On Gambit: “My girlfriend voted for this Cajun fruit. I think she’s looking to have a devil’s three way with the two of us. The idea of my balls slapping against Gambit’s makes me sick to my stomach.” The charming observation of Batwoman that “This lesbian character was voted for almost exclusively by men. I don’t know exactly what that means. But I’m hoping for a Marvel-DC crossover so that Tony Stark can “turn” her. She could also have sex with Nightwing and probably still be technically considered a lesbian.”
Maybe it should be comfort to us that of his potential heroine, Carol Danvers, Gunn only says “Carol Danvers dropped 13 points from her position last year. It’s a surprise to me as she is, along with Emma Frost and the Black Cat, one of the most consistently sexualized characters in the Marvel Universe,” though if he thinks her sexualization is one of the more telling things about her character, the fact that he doesn’t have specific fantasies about her may not count for very much. One of the most telling remarks Gunn makes is about Starfire: “The picture above is why, by the age of nine or ten, comic books had ruined real women for me forever.” In this post, he repeatedly mentions his girlfriend, so that doesn’t seem entirely true. But I do think that he and Disney should have to explain why these kinds of attitudes haven’t ruined him from being the kind of person who’s actually suited to introduce the first Marvel superheroine to an audience that includes men who are capable of reading superwomen as more than templates for sexual fantasies, and women who are eager to see themselves reflected on screen.