This past July, in the new Amazing Spider-Man film, Andrew Garfield’s lanky Spider Man creepy-crawls around Manhatten knocking out baddies with his sardonic wit. The only thought in my mind during the viewing of this film (aside from how amazingly awesome this reboot is actually) is how much I want to take this Spidey to bed. I want to tie him to the bedposts with his own web-sling and fuck him until he forgets all about Gwen Stacey. This is one spider that will eat the female when its all over, if you get my drift. This led me to realize what I believe is missing in super hero films gone awry: sex appeal for the modern, self-actualized woman.
Let’s, for instance, compare Green Lantern and Iron Man. Green Lantern was critically panned for pretty much any valid reason an Ebert could spew forth. However, I was previously unable to really discern my reason for hating the movie; the non-canonical story changes were par for the course, the casting was typical Hollywood ruination, and the script was just shy of too-horribly cringe-worthy. What is the difference between Green Lantern and say, Iron Man, a film glorified by both Marvel fans and their arch-rival DC-advocators? Iron Man is packed with action and blanketed with witty dialog, but the secret to it’s success is arguably at the very center of it all: Robert Downey Jr. and his heavenly metal-shrouded biceps. The followers of Westboro Baptist Church dream about RDJ while painting gay-protest signs, no joke. When one imagines Tony Stark, Downey Jr.’s face immediately springs to mind; his visage is now irrevocably Stark’s. The reason? RDJ is one sexy beast in his own right and he manages to bring the sexy + 10 when he acts as Stark. When Iron Man is viewed, one sees Tony Stark, the handsome playboy, not Robert Downey Jr., the hot former drug addict. On the other hand while watching Green Lantern, one only sees the lispy, winsome Ryan Reynolds on-screen, not the devilish serial philanderer Hal Jordan. If I desire to have a one-night passion-fest with the lead beefcake of Green Lantern, it would be Ryan Reynolds as himself (who could say no to that? I am a red-blooded woman, after all.) Hal Jordan does not actually exist in this movie incarnation; if you’re looking for him, check out the graphic novel, The Sinestro Corp. War Vol. 1.
Character-wise, Tony Stark goes down easy with his brooding, aged handsomeness. Celluloid Stark is world-weary, sarcastic perfection, managing to effortlessly pull off Douche with Charm; he reminds me of an old friend of mine who would always throw out a sick joke with a twisty smile, forcing me to forgive all his transgressions with a snarl and a punch on the arm. The Man of Iron is sexily confident without being (too) disgustingly egocentric or brash. He appeals in a dangerous, Chuck Bassy, bad-boy-on-the-border way, leaving you helplessly in over your head, but worrying at what point the bed sheets may become too (tear)stained to be much fun any more. Tony Stark manages to succeed on a level where Cinematic Hal Jordan will never bother to aspire. Jordan is the epitome of the tiresome trope that mandates that all beautiful people cruise by, in top-down convertibles wearing Ray-Bans, hair blowing in the wind while still not a strand out of place, laughing at the commoners toiling and working for their life progression. These ideal people never have to learn life lessons and neither does Hal Jordan; everything (his super power, his love, his happy ending) is just handed to him on a bright green platter. Never mind the fact that he’s an irredeemable jerk, giant-fist punching his former co-workers for being righteously angry and Beiber-speeding to a kid’s birthday party; overlook the fact that he failed high school physics (No, dear, one would not burn faster just by sheer virtue of being menacingly large and amorphous); laugh at the fact that he is such a playa that it affects his work ethic – this man is clearly meant to be your baby-daddy. In a dystopically Maury-world, this could be your future! Cue the ominous music and allow me a moment to dodge the lasers directed at my faux-gleeful smile by inteligente nerdy femmes everywhere. Tame the flames, ladies, and rest assured that despite being the only Earth-bound Lantern, there are more Super Fish in the sea. Suffice to say, there is no sex appeal to be had from the Green Lantern film, and sadly, I believe this leads to the growth of lackluster feelings from viewers; 5 out of 5 Bat Girls agree, a superhero movie is only as good as its ability to increase moisture levels in the nether regions.
But what of The Big Easy, Superman, every woman’s favorite geek fantasy? What also of Batman, every woman’s favorite dark geek fantasy? Well, firstly, every woman can only have one favorite geek fantasy; don’t be a hottie hog. Secondly, one of those statements is wincingly erroneous conjecture. Undoubtedly, Superman is always defined by his bulbous pectoraled-hunk-protectorate status, and the character is always played to spandex perfection by classically handsome actors. However, Superman is….boring (so boring, in fact, that I won’t waste words commenting on any of the actors.) Superman has no faults, other than that his alter ego Clark Kent is not actually a disguise fit for even a blind man. I could just imagine Superman peering down from his metaphorical, self-endowed pedestal long enough to sneer at me with my daring to possess petty, human flaws. I would not want to go to bed with Superman, because even the dark could not hide my flabby bits from his critical X-Ray peeping. Superman is far too nice to criticize a woman for her flaws, you say? Well, I say there is no such thing as a nice guy Superman, only a Nice Guy Superman. Nice Guy Superman says that he doesn’t understand why I don’t want to sleep with him; he has been nothing but nice to me, even going so far as to ignore my crooked ears. I must be a man-hating bitch of a lesbian. Maybe next time that I’m hanging off of the Sears Tower by one finger, he won’t fly by and save me, after all. That will show me! Needless to say, Nice Guys (or simply perfection-filled aliens) do not make for fun, sweaty nights of unforgettable ecstasy. (Note: It is quite possible that Zack Snyder’s new reboot may finally take Supe off my shit list. Hoping for the best!)
However, guys on the other side of the spectrum can definitely provide all of the hot, hatred and revenge-fueled sex that one may need. Batman/Bruce Wayne is plagued by demons from his past. He needs to eradicate the evil in Gotham in order to gain the comforting balm of pseudo-revenge on the man who killed his parents. Batman is about 200 miles too far from being boring and he is most definitely never seen the green-grass side of the fence known as perfection. B-man is heavily flawed and he’s not making any attempts to hide it. He seems like the kind of guy who would accept your issues with grace, being that whatever your problems are, you’ll always be less fucked up than he is. Batty’s dark, brooding, perennially scarred nature also speaks to the side of women that love a charity case; he is practically begging to be nurtured and ‘protected’. Most importantly, Bruce Wayne is a character that can carry those aforementioned traits with grace, aplomb, and non-steroidal musculature. He is appealing in graphical form and live-action Christian Baleness. In the same way that RDJ manages to effortlessly pull off the metamorphosis into Tony Stark, so too does Bale to Batman, overlooking, of course, that hideous parsel-tongued mumbling. The Bat is no longer a rabies-threat, so you can forgo the STD panels. This is one superhero with which you can safely seque into cuddling afterwards…if you can withstand a little post-sex sob every now and then.
Insert Captain America here, on the bottom of the sHit list, as he is the most inoffensive of the most unattractive. Americans LOVE zero-to-hero stories, almost as much as they love war stories. I believe that it is this combination that made The First Avenger into a generically successful movie, while at the same time reinforcing Cap as an unsuccessfully sexy hero. Little Stevie Rogers begins his story as a man so horrifically geeky that he has to be CGIed into existence. (A task that was, of course, botched to hell and back. I really hope the special effects department from this movie never receives work again.) Now, we all love us some stereotypes (eye-roll), but this kid is beyond ridiculous; he makes Sheldon Cooper look like the new Ahnold. He’s the most selfless guy on the planet (grenade! I’ll jump onto it in an asinine attempt at heroism and hope that the shards of shrapnel from my paper airplane of a body doesn’t end up killing everyone, anyway). He makes the transformation from skinny loser to Muscly Amazing Dude Out For Nazi Blood. This movie shoves so many stereotypes up this kid, I honestly don’t see how the guy doesn’t waddle through the rest of the movie. He’s as generically bland as Superman, but he kills Nazis, so what the hell, this dude’s awesome! Beat Hitler with a lead pipe, Cap! We want blood! Steve Rogers as a dude, really isn’t all that annoying. Steve Rogers as Captain America, blood-thirsty, steroidal, and way too Apple Pie, really IS all that annoying. Man, just listen: Red-white-blue color combinations are for flags, July 4th BBQs, and tasteless strippers. Taking a shield into battle without a jousting lance is just a waste. And face masks are only tolerable when worn by bank robbers or luchadores. You will not ‘get so many girls’ just because you are a war-fetishist, macho muscle-man, now – that’s a pipe dream for the men with guns strapped to every limb and too much cowardice to serve (i.e. Call of Duty dorks). That being said, Cap isn’t a bad guy, he’s not even a bad hero. He just suffers from being too unbelievable and too boring. He’s the guy that has to pretend to be someone else in order to get laid. No one really respects that guy. He is not sexy.
Chastity-belt strapping doesn’t just come from red-blooded Americans, but also from our neighbors-to-the-Norse, CGI Asgard, Upper East Side division. From here hails Thor, the Norse god of hammer-wielding, and presumably, nail-knocking (he’s certainly not knocking any boots in this city.) Thor is a prime example of what modern day feminists would call a Pick Up Artist (PUA); while only actually seen attempting to take credit for a woman’s hard work, the Politcally Correctly – forced absentia of the teardown of a woman in order to score is heavily felt. Thor possesses all of the fine traits of the newly-extinct, likely misogynistic “man’s man” ideal: he’s cocky, violent, whiny, obsessive, impulsive and selfish. (This whirlwind of traits was all made apparent within the first ~10 minutes of the film; the movie slammed into action so quickly, I was left with two black eyes and no earthly idea of what was going on. Whoever wrote this movie should check on their ejaculation speed; there is such a thing as too quick, and I can feel the sexual frustration emanating from Thor’s tiny pores. Rule of thumb: don’t transpose your own personal issues onto a character that is attempting to helm a blockbuster feature.) Poor, impotent Thor, with his Kurt Cobainish grungy locks and his penile-metaphoric hammer, does not hold any appeal to a modern self-actualized woman no matter how much Chris Hemsworth’s squinty, blue eyes appeal to the masses. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I would rather grit my teeth through the freezing penetration of a Frost Giant then suffer through the company of Thor for five minutes. Quoting my dear love, the ever-succinct Frost Giant king, “You are nothing but a boy trying to prove himself a man.” Thor is no more sexy than Sean Connery during a Barbara Walter’s wife-beating confession. Thor currently holds a mild 77% on Rotten Tomatoes, a deservedly scathing review from Roger Ebert, and stony silence from my vagina.
Bringing it back full-circle, how exactly does Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man fill the hole that timidly asexual Tobey Maguire was never quite able to fill? Why, pure geek sexiness, of course; the new standard of ‘manly’. This new incarnation of Mr. Parker is just stutteringly and head-whirlingly odd enough to be endearing, and when he suffers through the emotional backlash that being Spider-Man inevitably inflicts, you wholeheartedly feel it with him, too. Peter’s penetrating, but kind, gaze will burn holes right through you, and there is no doubt at all that, unlike Superman, this Spidey can, and will often, fuck up, and he isn’t afraid to openly acknowledge it. Honest, but timidly so; Intelligent without being terribly pretentious; Sexy, but thin and lithe; he is the antithesis to Thor, Superman, “Hal Jordan” and possibly most importantly, his previous embodiment. Garfield’s Parker is embracing the modern standard for manly men: emotional, respectful, kind, and mild, in the best possible way. There is no need for ostentatious show-outs of extreme anger or impetuous whining from this version of the character (interestingly enough, given that Peter Parker is a teenager, he is peculiarly absent of unbelievably angsty behavior.) It is clear that this guy not only respects women (and people in general), he also does not feel the need to brag, whine, or ruin his appeal with uncharacteristic behavior or blindingly-fast and incomprehensible opening sequences. I believe Midtown Science High’s favorite bully, Flash Thompson begrudgingly/admiringly said it best: “Guy’s crazy, but the chicks dig him.” And dig him they most certainly do.
After the credits roll I will concede that plot, character-progression, and dialogue are all necessary elements that a story requires in order to succeed. However, I say leave all of the technicalities to Marc Webb’s rom-coms; what really makes for a seriously enjoyable, popcorny super hero flick is a heroically fuckable Hero.
**Never fear, slavering fan-boys and -girls, I haven’t forgotten our beloved female superheroes. Unfortunately, women aren’t judged by the same standards as are men; that’s one reason why there has not yet been a successful female-helmed superhero action flick. Women are expected to always be beautiful, so never will there be a female stalking across the big screen that lacks sex appeal. Instead, women are judged via what I call the Friend-or-Foe method: would I find this woman far too much of an annoying bitch to be my friend/girlfriend? Stay tuned: this issue will be further explored in a follow-up post.**