Relationships in Superhero Movies

So today is Valentine’s Day and I was originally planning on not doing anything special for it with regards to this site. Then I started having a few ideas, but they all would take too much time that I didn’t have. But then I thought of something that I could do, and that was to make a list of the best relationships in superhero movies. But when I started going over the list in my head, I had trouble coming up with good ones and came up with plenty of bad ones. I then considered doing a list of the worst relationships, but instead decided to just take a look at the whole situation, good and bad.

First, I’ll start off with some of the better relationships out there, and there aren’t a whole lot. I think my favorite is the one between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts. It’s something that took a couple movies to really develop, she was always there for him, and she was about the only one out there who could keep up with him and his personality. Another strong relationship is the one between Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl aka Bob and Helen Parr. It developed in the good times when the superhero business was booming, and lasted through all the troubling times before they ended up bringing them back as a team. There were a few struggles in there with the threat of infidelity hanging over her head, but they came through it due to their love for each other and the true strength of their relationship. Another one that I have a soft spot for is the one between Hellboy and Liz, while there are some problems with it during the first movie, it really comes together in the sequel. And also a quick mention to Megamind and Roxanne Ritchie. The good ones often feature a strong bond between the two, an understanding of each other and their roles as a superhero, and often there is some type of sacrifice in the name of love.

But much more often, there are the bad relationships. The shallow ones, the forced ones, and the unhealthy ones. I think the one that people most often point to is the one between Lois Lane and Superman. But in my opinion, the only time they actually have a healthy relationship is in Superman II, which is the only one within the movies where they are a couple and she knows his dual identities. In all the other Christopher Reeves movies and Returns, there is the unhealthy dichotomy of Lois being in love with Superman, but only in like with Clark. While in Man of Steel, while she does know his true identity, the relationship in that movie felt a little forced as well as rushed. Much of the same can be said of the relationship between Peter Parker and Mary Jane in the Sam Raimi trilogy. Although their relationship is more complicated with their on again off again status where Peter breaks up with her in order to try and keep her safe from his villains, which is something that is also a part of the new Marc Webb movies between Parker and Gwen Stacy. Though I do have to say that at least in the first movie, I thought that the relationship was a strong part of the movie.

I think one of the biggest annoyances for me is when the relationship feels very forced and hinders the overall story rather than furthering it. One of the recent examples of this is the one between Logan and Mariko in The Wolverine. I never thought it needed to develop into a full fledged relationship, instead it just felt like they were forced to get together because… the fans wanted it? I don’t know. And one of the worst offenders was the ’04 Punisher which forced Rebecca Romijn into a romance with Frank Castle to the detriment of the overall movie. It didn’t really fit with the rest of the tone of the movie. Even a good movie can have a bad relationship, while I enjoyed Blade II quite a bit, I still thought that the romance between Blade and Nyssa wasn’t needed.

One of the last ones I’d like to talk about are the shallow relationships. They often would be a good fit for the story, the characters, and make sense. But either there isn’t much chemistry between the actors, or the two never really give a sense that they actually should be a couple. Like in the Mask, where it makes sense that Stanley and Cameron Diaz would end up together, there’s never really any sense of connection between the two of them, they just like each other because she’s hot and he’s heroic. The same holds true in Mystery Men between Mr. Furious and Claire Forlani, Daredevil and Elektra, Catwoman and Benjamin Bratt, Mr. Fantastic and Sue Storm, Hancock and Charlize Theron, Kick-Ass and… the girl whose character and actress names I can’t remember, and several more. It rarely adds depth to the characters because it never really goes past the surface level.

And finally, there’s the all too common dysfuntional relationship. Especially more common recently as superheroes often tread towards darker storylines, there’s plenty of superheroes out there that are involved in destructive relationships, or ones that aren’t good for them. There’s all sorts of messed up relationships surrounding several characters in the Watchmen, While Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is battling his dream girl’s evil exes, he’s also not exactly the pinnacle of a good boyfriend to Knives Chow. And while everyone seems to love Logan, he’s busy trying to go after Cyclops’ girl. And all the lies and jealousy with Dr. Horrible, Captain Hammer, and Penny can’t be very healthy, especially for Penny. Even if you don’t have superpowers like the Crimson Bolt, you tend to attract women with serious issues. And when you’re a scientist who turns into a giant green monster whose being hunted by your girlfriend’s father, there’s not much chance of a good relationship in that situation either. So, I guess what I’m saying is that if you’re a superhero, the odds are against you this Valentine’s Day. What about you, what’s your favorite, or least favorite relationship in the superhero movie universe? Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.


About Bubbawheat

I'm a comic book movie enthusiast who has watched and reviewed over 500 superhero and comic book movies in the past seven years, my goal is to continue to find and watch and review every superhero movie ever made.

Posted on February 14, 2014, in Blogs and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Good commentary.

    My least favorite relationship: Thor and Jane. By far. Mostly because neither flick has bothered developing exactly why both feel so powerfully for the other.

  2. Brilliant piece Bubba. I think an honourable mention has to go to V and Evey. Though it wasn’t ‘love’ per se, there still an element of deep feelings, respect and admiration there.

    Agent Carter and Captain America was a great example of old school love. No physicality, no modern day gestures, but an unspoken and everlasting love.

    • Both good examples, it’s been too long since I’ve seen V to really quantify their relationship, but I think you’re right that it was more of a platonic love which there is a lot of out there too.

  3. Great post Bubbawheat. I too hate it when romance in movies feels forced. Your picks of Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl and Tony Stark and Pepper Pots are solid picks

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