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The Most Cringe-Worthy Love Scenes In Superhero Movies

Romance is an extremely popular genre, and for good reason. After all, many of even the most cynical movie buffs enjoy a good love story, and movies in other genres often include at least one romantic subplot. And if there happens to be a steamy scene included, all the better, right? Well, not necessarily. 

Love scenes have been an important part of cinema history since its invention, but they are notoriously tricky to film. A good love scene requires finesse and emotional intelligence, and can leave viewers with a beautiful experience. Others can leave us with feelings of disgust -– or worse, be unintentionally hilarious.

As superhero movies have inarguably taken over the box office, more attempts have been made to add a little romance in between the action beats of saving the world. Some of those moments include more intimate interactions beyond declarations of love or a stolen kiss. However, there are some scenes that may have fans wishing that filmmakers would stick to high-octane fight sequences instead of awkward sexual relations. Here's a list of love scenes in superhero movies that left many audiences cringing.

Nite Owl and Silk Spectre failed to heat things up in Watchmen

The 2009 superhero film "Watchmen" combines elements of noir and comic book action to make a unique cinematic experience that was, at the time, unprecedented. Directed by Zack Snyder, the movie is a mostly faithful adaptation of the DC comic book by writer Alan Moore and artist David Gibbons. Both the comics and the film cast a dark shadow on the world of superheroes, utilizing excessive violence, sex, and the apprehensive terror of the Cold War era. The story takes place in an alternate 1985, where Richard Nixon is serving his fifth consecutive presidential term, superheroes are essentially outlawed, and the world is on the brink of nuclear war.

In the movie's second act, retired superheroes Dan Dreiberg, aka Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson), and Laurie Jupiter, aka Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman), decide to take a joyride in the Owlship while donning their old costumes. After rescuing the residents of a burning building from certain doom, the pair take a moment to celebrate their success by –- ahem -– enjoying one other's company on the ship.

Although this graphic sex scene certainly has its awkward moments -– from the slow-motion undressing of garments to the uncomfortable close-ups of the characters' faces during the throes of passion -– it might not be so bad if not for the song choice. The whiskey-and-cigarette-coated vocals of Leonard Cohen singing "Hallelujah" with a deadpan tone seems incredibly out-of-place, creating an atmosphere of discomfiture and confusion. The accidental press of a button that expels the ship's flame-thrower during Laurie's climax just adds to the whole awkwardness of the scene. Maybe watching the sequence on mute might help alleviate some of the cringe factor, but not by much.

The Dr. Manhattan, Silk Spectre, and Dr. Manhattan threesome was just so wrong

Yet another scene in "Watchmen" that had us cringing is one between Laurie and Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup). At the beginning of the movie, we see Dr. Manhattan hard at work on an energy reactor that he hopes will provide endless resources for Earth's population, thus helping to end all wars. Being singularly minded, Manhattan has little time for anything else, including Rorschach's (Jackie Earl Healy) warning that someone is murdering their former superhero colleagues. His steadfast focus also results in the neglect of his girlfriend, Laurie, which drives her to find solace in the arms of another man.

The last straw for Laurie is laid during a moment of intimacy between herself and Manhattan. Awash in blue light, we see Laurie in bed enjoying the touch of her lover's hands –- more than two hands, in fact. As she suddenly realizes what's happening, Laurie opens her eyes and is outraged to find two Manhattans standing before her. "I always thought you liked this," Manhattan says, to which Laurie replies that she does not. To make things worse, a third Dr. Manhattan is still hard at work in the next room, prompting Laurie's fury even further. Of course, we're not here to yuck anyone's yum, but the lack of communication and consent, as well as Manhattan's main attention being elsewhere, makes the scene especially uncomfortable to watch. 

Deadpool's Calendar Girl montage was almost too painful to watch

A huge favorite of many Marvel comic book lovers, Wade Wilson -– the notorious Merc with a Mouth -– finally got his own movie in 2016. Starring Ryan Reynolds, "Deadpool" was one of the few Marvel superhero movies to get a hard "R" rating, and fans wouldn't have it any other way. Full of crude humor, over-the-top violence, and plenty of fourth-wall-breaking jokes, "Deadpool" had everything fans of the wise-cracking anti-hero could wish for. However, it also included a sequence that some fans could have done without.

In "Deadpool," Wade meets the love of his life, a sex worker named Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), at the mercenary bar he frequents. They swap tragic childhood backstories before Wade offers her $275 and a Yogurtland gift card for her special services. After an intense session of playing ski ball (not a euphemism), the two of them have sex in his apartment. The scene then turns into a montage of intense love-making, with Neil Sedaka's "Calendar Girl" playing in the background.

The passage of time is marked by holidays, as we see Wade and Vanessa celebrate Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year. It's a clever device that gives the audience an idea of how their relationship progresses. However, there's a certain point at which it might be a bit much for portions of the audience. For instance, the way in which Wade and Vanessa choose to celebrate International Women's Day might have some people wincing (there's nothing wrong with it, but it's not for everyone). When the montage proceeds to Thanksgiving, we are then "treated" to the sight of the couple's faces smeared in cranberry sauce and potatoes as they have sex on the dinner table. That just can't be sanitary, right? The scene is meant to be played up for laughs, and it succeeds, but there is also a certain ick factor that had some fans grossed out. 

Bruce gets too excited in The Incredible Hulk

Before Mark Ruffalo smashed his way into our hearts, it was actor Edward Norton who introduced Bruce Banner to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One of the first –- and most oft-forgotten –- movies in the MCU, 2008's "The Incredible Hulk" follows Bruce while a fugitive on the run from the U.S. military. Specifically on his tail are General Ross (William Hurt) and super-soldier Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), who would eventually become Abomination.

After Bruce and Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) escape an army attack, they take shelter together in an off-road motel. There she gifts him a new heart-rate monitor for his wrist to replace the one he lost. Before long, the two former lovers start to fall into old habits, and things heat up between them as they make their way to the bed. The moment quickly gets awkward, however, when Bruce's monitor starts to beep, killing the mood as he informs Betty that he can't "get too excited." "Not even a little excited?" she asks disappointedly.

Anyone who has gone through puberty can certainly sympathize with the couple at that moment, but the scene itself, while meant to be played for laughs, is just a bit cringeworthy. The thought of Bruce suddenly turning into the Hulk mid-coitus is enough to make anyone's imagination go to strange places, and frankly, we'd rather not.

The out-of-nowhere rave scene in The Matrix: Reloaded

The sci-fi epic "The Matrix" was a huge cultural phenomenon that began with the first film's release in 1999. Not only did it cement Keanu Reeves' action star status, but it made the Wachowski sisters a household name. The enormous box office success of "The Matrix" incited the demand for two more sequels to quickly follow –- "The Matrix: Reloaded" and "The Matrix: Revolutions," both in 2003.

In "The Matrix: Reloaded," six months have passed since Neo (Keanu Reeves) defeated Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) and became the One. The short-lived peace is interrupted when a new threat may prove to be the end of not only the human revolution, but humanity's entire existence. At the beginning of the film, the humans are instructed to fall back to Zion to regroup and plan for an incoming attack by the sentinels. During a gathering in Zion, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) addresses the crowd and informs them of the coming danger. His rousing speech moves the population and a celebration soon begins, as millions of people dance and forget their troubles. During the festivities, Neo and Trinity sneak off to have their own private celebration. Pulsing techno music plays as sweaty bodies crowd the caves of Zion. The shots intercut between the impromptu rave and Trinity and Neo having sex in another room. 

This scene has been a source of controversy for some "Matrix" fans -– namely, the choice to even include the scene at all. One Reddit thread questioned the necessity of the scene, with arguments for both sides. Some believed it to be a hindrance that failed to progress the story, while others found it to contain powerful symbolism that was essential to the film. Redditor u/depastino claimed that the love scene felt "forced," and went on to say, "The Wachowskis may like sex scenes, but IMO, they don't know how to do them very well."

Howard the Duck and interspecies dating

Making his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in "Guardians of the Galaxy," the anthropomorphic alien fowl known as Howard the Duck has popped up in a few cameos within the MCU. Voiced by Seth Green, the debaucherous Howard was first seen in the Collector's (Benicio Del Toro) museum as an exhibit, but later can be spotted fighting alongside the Ravagers in "Avengers: Endgame." Howard also played a prominent role in "What If...?" Episode 2, "What If... T'Challa Became a Star-Lord?"

Though he is one of Marvel's more obscure characters, Howard has been part of the comic book landscape for decades -– and the MCU wasn't even the first to bring him to the big screen. In 1986, executive producer George Lucas aided in bringing the feathered friend to theaters with the live-action comedy "Howard the Duck." Unfortunately, the movie was one of the biggest critical and financial failures in recent history.

In "Howard the Duck," miserable loner Howard (voiced by Chip Zien) finds himself flung across the universe and onto planet Earth. A strange alien in a strange world, Howard befriends a singer named Beverly (Lea Thompson) who attempts to help him acclimate to his new surroundings. Though the movie is chock-full of bad bird puns and mediocre action beats, one scene in particular made viewers squirm uncomfortably in their seats.

While staying at Beverly's place, Howard and Beverly share a flirtatious moment in bed together that almost develops into an interspecies fling. The sight of Howard's feathers fluffing up on his head while Beverly strokes his chest is sure to emit groans, followed by a swell of relief when their pillow talk is abruptly interrupted. For all intents and purposes, the movie caters to younger audiences, which makes us wonder why the filmmakers would wish to scar us like this. 

Batman: The Killing Joke made things uncomfortable between Batgirl and her mentor

In 1988, writer Alan Moore created one of DC's most lauded graphic novels, "Batman: The Killing Joke." The book contains an origin story for the Joker, and also presents dark themes of madness and morality. Warner Bros. Animation commissioned a feature to be made based on the Moore graphic novel, and the movie was released in 2016.

While writer Brian Azzarello stuck to the source material for much of the script, there were also plenty of original inventions used to stretch out "Batman: The Killing Joke" to fit a feature runtime. That material included an additional subplot and more character development for Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl (voiced by Tara Strong). However, both fans and critics were disapproving of the movie's first half, and one scene in particular caused outrage among viewers.

The first half of "Batman: The Killing Joke" focuses on Barbara –- specifically, her relationship with Bruce Wayne, aka Batman (Kevin Conroy). Tension arises between the two when Batman attempts to take Batgirl off of a dangerous case, but Batgirl refuses. Their quarrel culminates in the two of them having sex on a rooftop in Gotham City.

Though the scene itself is not in any way graphic, it nonetheless was viewed as problematic. IGN reviewer Jesse Schedeen summed up a shared opinion of many, stating, "The creep factor comes from the fact that Batgirl has such a clearly subordinate relationship to Batman. He's the seasoned veteran and mentor. She's the newbie pupil. That Batman would take advantage of that relationship reflects very poorly on him as a superhero." 

This Hancock outtake will blow viewers away, but not in a good way

Every once in a while, Hollywood takes a chance introducing original superhero characters without comic book origins. Sometimes those gambles pay off, like in the case of Pixar's "The Incredibles." Others, not so much. The 2008 film, "Hancock," starring Will Smith, Jason Bateman, and Charlize Theron, may have offered a unique take on a modern day superhero, but it wasn't enough to impress the critics or general audiences (per Rotten Tomatoes). 

A deleted scene from the film (which was reinserted for the Extended Cut) depicts Hancock (Smith) having a one-night stand. To be fair, we may be using the term "love scene" in a pretty liberal sense here. When Hancock brings a young woman back to his home in a rundown trailer park, things quickly start heating up. However, the superhuman insists on setting a few ground rules first. He informs her that when he gets to "the moment," she needs to steer far clear of him. The scene cuts to the exterior of the trailer, which begins to rock excessively due to physical activity within. Hancock then shouts a warning, as his partner is thrown across the room. Light erupts from holes that appear in the ceiling of the trailer, and the camera zooms in on a sated Hancock lying in bed.

Yes, it is exactly what you think it is. We shudder to think what might have happened to the poor girl had Hancock not reacted in time. Viewers witnessing the scene are likely to feel as awkward as the hero when he looks up at the holes in the ceiling and back down at the horrified woman on his sofa. These are the troubles of superheroes that we had never before considered — and frankly, would rather have not.

The Return of Swamp Thing has a bizarre love scene

Over the decades, comic book writers have come up with some very unique character concepts. To be frank, there are many characters from the world of comics that are just flat-out strange. In 1971, DC writer Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson collaborated to bring to life a plant/humanoid hybrid called Swamp Thing.

The first "Swamp Thing" movie, directed by Wes Craven, spawned in 1982. Reviews for the action horror were mixed, but generated enough buzz to warrant a sequel, "The Return of Swamp Thing," in 1989. This time, Warner Bros. tagged Jim Wynorski to direct, and the movie was given a much lighter tone. It also brought in Heather Locklear, fresh in the minds of audiences thanks to her "Dynasty" fame, as the romantic interest for the mutant hero.

"The Return of Swamp Thing" was panned by the critics as a cheesy and inept sequel that failed to capture the campy fun of the original. It also has one of the strangest love scenes ever to make it into a superhero movie. Shortly after escaping the clutches of the evil Dr. Anton Arcane (Louis Jourdan), Swamp Thing aka Alec Holland (Dick Durock) and Abby Arcane (Locklear) find safe haven among the Florida Everglades. When Abby expresses her romantic feelings for her heroic rescuer, Swamp Thing confesses that they can never have a physical relationship. However, he offers to give her an experience akin to lovemaking by offering her a plant broken off of his body (ew) which they both consume (double ew). What follows is a dreamlike sequence in which Swamp Thing returns to his human self, and he and Abby share a moment of passion together.

It's tough to say which is cringier -– the fact that Swamp Thing gives Abby a literal piece of himself to chew on, or the incredibly hokey image of the two actors nuzzling each other under soft light and extreme close ups.

Eternals gave Marvel its first sex scene, but we wish they hadn't

Phase 4 was a time of change for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Some properties found both critical and box office success, such as "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," and there was high praise for Disney+ originals like "WandaVision" and "Loki." Others, however, have fallen short. Oscar-winning director Chloe Zhao brought the ancient superbeings known as the "Eternals" to the big screen in 2021, but the movie was deemed by critics to be too sappy and underdeveloped.

Marvel has earned a reputation for the lack of sex in its films, as observed by director Steven Soderbergh in an interview with The Daily Beast. In fact, "Eternals" was the first movie of the franchise to include a sex scene. Ironically, the scene was so bad that most viewers can agree that they needn't have bothered. After Ikaris (Richard Madden) declares his love for Sersi (Gemma Chan), the two share an intimate moment together in the desert. What was meant to be a tender and powerful sequence ended up being incredibly awkward, compounded by the lack of chemistry between the actors.

"Ikaris and Sersi's rendezvous is intended as the dramatic crux of the film," wrote Esquire's Nick Schager. "Yet there's no way the sex scene could live up to any of this, what with it running shorter than your average TV commercial, and having been fashioned for maximum modesty." It seems that Marvel still has a long way to go when it comes to portraying intimacy between its heroes, and hopefully has learned from its mistakes.