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Gotham EP Cites Poison Ivy’s “Power of Seduction” as Reason for Aging Up Teenage Character


It seems that despite assurances to the contrary, we’re going to see the aged-up Poison Ivy sexualized in Gotham.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, producer Ken Woodruff essentially contradicted earlier promises that the teenage characters in Gotham wouldn’t be sexualized from executive producer/writer Bruno Heller. Woodruff said, of Ivy:

We made the change for two reasons: The character Ivy in the comics, one of her greatest powers is the power of seduction. Everyone was much more comfortable with that with an older actress as opposed to a teenager. We want to explore that classic, canonical power of Ivy. And we didn’t just make her older with that attack. When she’s changed and transformed, there’s a real character change as well. She’ll still have some of the same traits, but she’ll be much darker, more manipulative than the Ivy we’ve seen so far. There’s a more evil quality to her as well. It’s more than just physical.

You may remember that back in June, we shared the news that Gotham was going to be aging up their Poison Ivy character. By means of Some Plot Device, they were going to switch out their 14-year-old Ivy Pepper (Claire Foley) with adult Ivy Pepper (Maggie Geha). We expressed more than a few concerns regarding this decision, foremost amongst them the worry that this was a decision made almost purely on the basis that they wanted to exploit the young teenage character’s sexuality.

Our fears were confirmed when Geha’s casting was announced, and the story arc for her character was revealed. It read: “Following an encounter with a monster from Indian Hill, Ivy Pepper finds herself reborn, and one step closer to the DC villain she is destined to become: Poison Ivy. Now a 19-year-old woman who’s harnessed the full power of her charms, she sets her sights on Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz).”  Maddy Myers previously pointed out the possible implied meaning behind the words “sets her sights,” but until now, there wasn’t 100% confirmation on what exactly that might mean.

Of course, thanks to Woodruff’s comments, we know exactly what that means: seduction, aka sexualization, aka the exact opposite of what they promised earlier.

Back in August, Geha, who plays the older Ivy, said that the sexual/seduction aspects of Poison Ivy’s character wouldn’t factor into her portrayal of the character. She said:

I think it’s going to be more about discovering how other people perceive her and what means. A lot of people are focused on her sexuality. I think Ivy, in my opinion, doesn’t really feel sexual about anybody. I think if she notices, ‘this person is attracted to me, finds me appealing in a sexual way, I’m going to use that to my benefit.’ It’s more of a manipulative thing than anything.

Again, something like this just flies in the face of Woodruff’s more recent comments, which literally spell out their reason for changing actresses: they wanted to be more comfortable using seduction scenes.

You and me and everybody we know likely saw this coming. One doesn’t age up a character just for the hell of it, especially if you just so happen to be aging that character just a year or two above the age of consent. And, of course, lest we forget, the character of Ivy Pepper is still mentally 14-years-old. Placing a character like that into the role of “seductress” is problematic in and of itself. But that’s not the particularly disappointing part. What is disappointing is the fact that there were so many contradictory statements and comments made in defense of the decision, all of which essentially ask for the benefit of the doubt plot-wise. Sound familiar?

The season just started, and I guess there’s plenty more plot to be had over on Gotham, but honestly, we’ve been skeezed out by the decision from the get-go; a lot of us aren’t expecting the best out of what’s to come.

(via Comics Alliance, image via FOX)

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Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (, and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters ( She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.