Last month, Disney released Eternals, yet another addition to the sprawling Marvel canon; it follows a group of immortal, supernatural beings as they try to save Earth from the latest intergalactic threat to humanity du jour. Eternals was meant to definitively usher in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, introducing a diverse new set of heroes and setting the scene for the post-blip world. Perhaps even more earth-shattering, however: The movie contained the MCU’s first-ever on-screen sex scene—or whatever you choose to call those three seconds of loveless missionary shared by Richard Madden’s Ikkaris and Gemma Chan’s Sersi.
The introduction of real, on-screen, canonical sexual intercourse into the MCU is a game-changer. Sex is now a real thing in a cinematic universe that routinely featured time travel, sorcery, and romps through outer space before physical intimacy between two characters. For years, fans have lovingly crafted hundreds of thousands of words of raunchy fanfics about all the Avengers who should have hooked up, or perhaps secretly did off-screen; finally, the movies themselves are wading into famously horny waters. Just as game-changing, the season finale of Loki saw the destruction of the “sacred timeline” that has long held the one reality of the Marvel universe in place, replacing it with a multiverse, meaning that infinite realities and timelines now coexist in the Marvel world.
The bottom line of all this theoretical superhero physics? Essentially any WattPad Steve x Bucky fanfic could now very well be canon.
The question of which Avengers or MCU characters should bone is often debated, and everyone has and is entitled to their own opinions. But some opinions are more correct than others, which is why I present to Kevin Feige and the executives at Disney—or whoever it is that makes these crucial decisions—the definitive list of Marvel characters who should now have on-screen, multiversal sex.
The only thing more inevitable than a Marvel movie with enormous, semi-logical explosions is fans shipping the immortal love story of Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes, whose entire story arcs throughout the Captain America trilogy have revolved around breaking all of the rules to be together. Some will foolishly argue Captain America and the Winter Soldier were platonic, as if Civil War didn’t end with Steve quite literally breaking up the Avengers all to protect Bucky from any sort of consequence. Bucky, you’ll recall, had been framed for killing the King of Wakanda, and it’s revealed that back in the 1990s, he kind-of-sort-of killed Tony Stark’s (Robery Downey Jr.) parents while under mind control by the rogue Nazi organization Hydra.
Marvel should absolutely give the people what they want and let these two just go at it on-screen. But with or without an on-screen sex scene, TikTok shippers will never be lacking for SteveBucky footage for fan-cams. After all, at the end of the day, the majority of the Captain America trilogy, when stripped of all its pomp and circumstance, is just these two supposedly straight men choking and throwing each other against walls.
While we’re on the topic of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, can we please talk about how sparks were flying every single time Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff and Cobie Smulders’ Agent Maria Hill shared the screen?? Their hypothetical relationship may not command as expansive an army of shippers as SteveBucky does, but plenty of Marvel Instagram and TikTok fan accounts have theories of what may have transpired off-screen between the two.
Agents Romanoff and Hill are two of SHIELD’s most elite agents, and the closest confidants to SHIELD Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). They’ve almost certainly carried out numerous missions together in the years prior to the first Avengers, or in the intervening years between different Marvel movies, and you can’t convince me nothing ever happened between the two.
Sure, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora and Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill had loads of chemistry as their romance unfolded over the course of Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and Avengers: Infinity War. But it’s become impossible for me to separate Peter from the man who unfortunately plays him, and at this point, I don’t know that I could enjoy an intimate scene of him and Saldana. But what I could get behind instead is some on-screen intimacy between Gamora and Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Peter’s new rival for leadership of the Guardians of the Galaxy as of the conclusion of Endgame.
Both victims of Thanos in their own unique ways, Gamora and Thor share undeniable sexual tension upon briefly meeting in Avengers: Infinity War. They both have deeply complicated and dysfunctional relationships with family members, and they’re undoubtedly two of the hottest Avengers. The cherry on top of this hypothetical hook-up would be the possibility of a throuple with Tessa Thompson’s canonically bisexual Valkyrie, who seemed like a possible love interest for Thor throughout Thor: Ragnarok, following the god of thunder’s off-screen breakup with Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster.
Could any ship or on-screen encounter in the world be more intense than one between Angelina Jolie’s Goddess of War and Cate Blanchett’s Goddess of Death? We’re introduced to Thena in Eternals as possibly the most powerful of the Eternals, who’s held back only by her fear of her own power and a sort of existential angst that Jolie has compared to PTSD. For all the demons Thena struggles with throughout Eternals, at her core, she clearly relishes a good fight, and would certainly meet her match in Hela, the Big Bad of Ragnarok who crushes Thor’s supposedly indestructible hammer with her bare hand and briefly rules Asgard with an iron fist. A showdown between these two could very easily lead to the ultimate sapphic power struggle, not to mention pure fan-service for a fandom that’s for years been starved of queer storytelling and representation.
No one was more disappointed by the events of Avengers: Endgame than fans of Natasha and Steve, who watched as their faves either plummeted from a mountain top in outer space to save humanity, or abandoned all of their loved ones to go back in time and be with a woman they kissed once. But in addition to sharing possibly the worst character endings in the MCU, Steve and Natasha had an undeniable connection throughout every movie they co-starred in, cemented by their intimate road trip and adventuring throughout The Winter Soldier.
Steve and Nat were the first of the Avengers to build a real bond, and perhaps the first people either character really trusted, as they discover together that SHIELD and Hydra are basically the same entity. Their relationship is widely popular as a friendship, but if Steve were going to be with anyone other than Bucky, his bond with Natasha was infinitely more natural than the forced relationships between him and Sharon or Peggy Carter, with whom he shared chaste, awkward kisses in Civil War and The First Avenger, respectively.
Since the release of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier earlier this year, fans have produced expansive and credible evidence demonstrating Bucky Barnes’ bisexuality, despite protestations from the show’s director, who is determined to deny us happiness. But in any case, if Bucky isn’t going to be with Steve, I could very, very, very much get behind him hooking up with Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova. There are already rumors Marvel plans to bring this ship to life in the next Avengers-level crossover movie, ever since Yelena’s entrance in Black Widow as one of the widows and Natasha’s proxy little sister.
Yelena and Bucky share the experience of being trained and programmed to be Russian killing machines, as well as surviving brain-washing and chemical mind control. They’re not just physically ruthless, but also two of the bluntest, grumpiest characters in the MCU—but, like, in a hot way. I can definitely see this ship taking off, although they’d almost certainly try to kill each other upon first meeting. All of the characters’ similarities aside, I would pay very good money to watch Sebastian Stan and Florence Pugh make out, and that’s all the justification this ship needs, thank you very much.
We arguably have these two to thank for the multiverse, between Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) fracturing reality to create the sitcom world of WandaVision and Loki variants discovering the truth about and destroying the sacred timeline in Loki. While Wanda’s one true love throughout the MCU thus far has been the infinity stone-powered android Vision, like Yelena and Bucky, Wanda and Loki share a surprising amount in common, from similarities in their powers to their childhood losses of their families, and there’s a distinct possibility both could appear in Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness early next year. As for visualizing Olsen and Tom Hiddleston together, we already know they have chemistry from their 2015 collaboration as co-stars in I Saw the Light.
I’m always going to be a diehard SteveBucky personally, but Captain America—whoever he is—is always going to have a thing with the Winter Soldier, I don’t make the rules. Bucky and Sam, Steve’s successor as Captain America played by Anthony Mackie, definitely have more of a bromance in Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which sees them confront their conflicting feelings about what it means to be a superhero and grieve the loss of Steve together. But Sam deserves love, and he and Bucky definitely have something very sweet and domestic going by the end of TFATWS, as they work together to repair Sam’s family boat in a fluffy, fan-service-y montage. They even smile as they watch the sunset at a Wilson family cookout in the show’s blissful final moments.
Mackie has made his thoughts on the possibility of a SamBucky ship quite clear in a borderline-homophobic tirade earlier this year, but this is my MCU sex wishlist, not his, and I would still like to see this possible hook-up on the table.
Tony Stark and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange share an immediate hatred of each other from the moment they meet in Infinity War, and the dynamic between these two hot-headed, overly confident white men is peak homoerotic Marvel. However much they may have gotten on each other’s nerves, Dr. Strange is the one who foresaw that Tony would ultimately save humanity from Thanos in Endgame, nodding to Tony in his final moments. At the end of the day, Strange and Stark were on the same side, yet their every interaction was perfect fodder for enemies-to-lovers shippers, who likely spent the better part of Infinity War screaming at them to just kiss already. There’s no way these two haven’t had wild hate sex somewhere in the multiverse.
With Spider-Man: No Way Home on the horizon and looking very bleak and tragic all-around based on its trailers, I am begging Marvel to let two of the Spiderverse’s purest characters know love and happiness. What have Happy, the late Tony Stark’s lifelong butler played by Jon Favreau, or Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) notably, hot, young aunt, ever done to hurt anyone?? Both Happy and May serve as parental figures to Peter by the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home and also appear to be flirting with a romance of sorts by the end of the movie. They deserve to be happy together and to share some probably awkward but very sweet on-screen intimacy.
If you’ve watched Eternals through its two credit scenes, or have been on the internet of late, then congratulations! You know Harry Styles is now part of the MCU, as none other than Thanos’ younger brother, Eros. Quite the opposite of Thanos and his mission to destroy half of all life at any cost, Eros leads a particularly hedonistic lifestyle, which is unsurprising for someone who shares a name with the Greek god of erotic love. I, for one, can’t wait to see what Harry Styles winds up doing with this role, and as someone who’s literally written and sang a song about the female orgasm, it would almost feel wrong for Marvel to subject him to the franchise’s usual sexlessness.