Tatiana Maslany's She-Hulk in Marvel's She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Disney+ series. (Marvel Entertainment)

‘She-Hulk’ Is ‘Horny-Forward,’ Says Head Writer Jessica Gao

I wholeheartedly support this development.

By now you’ve heard about the earth-shattering revelation in the Marvel universe: Captain America officially fucks. That vital nugget of knowledge was revealed at the end of the first episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, in which Jen (Tatiana Maslany) tricks Bruce (Mark Ruffalo) into telling her that Steve Rogers lost his virginity in 1943. Not only that, but the trailer for the series has promised more sexy times for Jen, who will hook up with at least one guy. It’s a new era for Marvel that was kicked off by Eternals, which featured the MCU’s first real love scene: superheroes are having sex!

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Now, in a new interview with Collider, show creator, head writer, and executive producer Jessica Gao (who has worked previously on shows like Rick and Morty and Silicon Valley) confirms that the series doesn’t just acknowledge superhero sex. She-Hulk is proudly “horny-forward.”

“The show is not only sex-positive, but horny-forward”

In the interview, which came out on August 23, 2022, Gao was asked about the inspiration for a scene in an upcoming episode in which Jen goes on a date with a guy who seems perfect, but then does an about-face after they sleep together. Here’s what she said:

[The depiction of sexuality] is one of the things I’m proudest of, with this show. The show is not only sex-positive, but horny-forward. That story really started from a place of character and emotion. We talked about, what would it be like for Jen to date, post-She-Hulk? Because they look so different, they’re probably gonna attract different types of men, but also there are just changes in how people treat her and how they see her, and how devastating it would be to so starkly see and understand that somebody prefers one over the other, and clearly who she is on the inside is not enough for this person. 

It’s not surprising that Gao wanted to explore sex and dating in She-Hulk, given the show’s explicit feminism. American culture is deeply misogynist, which makes sex a particularly thorny territory for people to navigate, and having Jen navigate that territory while changing her physical appearance can make for some really interesting storytelling.

Plus, if we’re finally getting some sex in Marvel, it’s nice that it’s coming from a female creator and writer, in a feminist series about a woman. What if Joss Whedon had gotten the green light to make sex a plot point in a Marvel property? That’s a timeline I’m glad I don’t have to witness.

Of course, the show’s focus on sex also begs the question: is the MCU finally embracing sexuality on a larger scale?

Is it time for more sex in the MCU?

Ikaris and Sersi share an embrace in Marvel's Eternals.

Let me get this out of the way first: I want more sex in the MCU because I want to see superheroes having a good time. I just want to own that and acknowledge the bias it might bring out in me. You know how in Captain Marvel #27, Carol hooks up with Doctor Strange? The day that issue came out, the owner of my local comic book store arrived to find me crouched in the storeroom, the box from Hachette torn open and the issue in my claws, with my eyes reflecting the light like Gollum’s. Superhero sex is awesome and I wants it.

Ahem. The MCU has always been largely devoid of sex, presumably to keep its movies family-friendly and PG-13 rated. The MCU’s first portrayal of sex didn’t come until that disappointing scene in 2021’s Eternals, where Ikaris lies on top of Sersi like he’s protecting her from a low-flying plane and then they promptly get married. Marvel wants its movies to be acceptable to as wide an audience as possible, which means candy-coated fight scenes and largely sexless romance. I get it, Marvel. I don’t like it, but I get it. I couldn’t take my kids to see Suicide Squad, but I did enjoy Thor: Love and Thunder with them.

Hopefully, though, the growing number of Disney Plus limited series—along with Disney Plus’s new 18+ setting—means that Marvel will continue to loosen up when it comes to superhero sex. She-Hulk joins the ranks of other Marvel series aimed at adult audiences, like Netflix’s Jessica Jones and Daredevil (both now streaming on the aforementioned Disney Plus 18+ setting), so we may be treated to more superpowered escapades from here on out.

(image: Marvel)


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Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>