Those of you who mistake superheroes for just “boom! pow!” entertainment may also think that romance in the genre is like those paperback novels that have more recently begun featuring vampires on their covers. Well, it isn’t: these couples have issues, they’re adult and complicated and usually don’t have happily-ever-afters. Their powers are usually their weaknesses, and the writers just love to pull on our own heartstrings the more we root for them. Regardless, you’ll see some age-old and maybe some unfamiliar couples on here too.
But please, just to reiterate–this isn’t an objective top ten superhero couples of all time. These are my personal ten favorite couples.
10 Jean and Scott (Phoenix and Cyclops)
Scott and Jean are the X-Men’s longest-running couple, and also the first couple I met through The Dark Phoenix Saga. While the two were married (above), they still had complications; Scott can’t see properly and Jean’s telepathy allows no secrets between them. In Dark Phoenix, Jean is brainwashed into the Hellfire Club, and is at the brink of killing her teammates, but her connection with Scott allows her to break out of the reverie and save them. The tragedy of Jean’s death immortalized Scott and Jean’s love, and continues to resonate in all X-Men comics and with me also. This first-comic experience also included villainess Emma Frost, so of course I hate Emma and Scott together; it’s enough for me to wish that Jean gets with Wolverine upon her return, just to spite Cyke.
9 Lois Lane and Clark Kent (Superman)
No list would be complete without the Man of Steel and the Daily Planet reporter; “Lois and Clark” is truly one of the classics. At first, Lois was head over heels for Superman, without realizing that he was actually the mild-mannered Clark Kent. But eventually Lois figured it out, and they’ve tied the knot. Even though a reporter love interest has become cliché, it was brilliant to give the invincible Superman a love (one with intelligence and wit all her own, I might add) to show just how ‘human’ he is. Lois and Clark have their own couple post! See it here!
8 Helena and Vic (Huntress and Question)
JLU took creative license in all the right places, and this couple is certainly one of them. While Black Canary and Green Arrow were an expected couple these two were the opposite; Huntress is a badass chick and Question is a faceless, conspiracy-obsessed investigator (don’t tell him I said that). But they’ve found a spot here on this list, as the two have great chemistry as well as banter, particularly in “Double Date” when Question helps Huntress track down an old foe. Later Huntress saves Question from kidnappers, and there is a priceless scene when she sees his true face–far from the “ugliest in the world” that she guessed when they first met.
7 Dinah and Ollie (Black Canary and Green Arrow)
Black Canary and Green Arrow started out as a sugar-and-spice sort of couple; Dinah (or “pretty bird” as Ollie likes to call her) was constantly the damsel in distress for Ollie to save, but later it’s balanced nicely. Dinah comes into her own as a Bird of Prey, and is a talented hand-to-hand combatant and motorcyclist. Another layer of realism here is nice to see: Ollie fathered a son with another woman, but Dinah accepts him as she would her own son. I adore this couple in JLU; the voice actors have great chemistry together and they share some excellent banter.
6 Harley Quinn and Joker
The Joker and Harley are the best villain duo, not to mention the looniest, most dysfunctional couple hands down; and it’s all thanks to Bruce Timm who first introduced Harley into the Batman animated series. Harley is the Joker’s therapist in Arkham, but becomes smitten with her patient (hereby called Mista J or puddin’), and dons her red-and-black costume to prove it. Does the Joker return her feelings? We’re never quite sure, but at the very least he likes keeping her around; when you find one, you know the other will be close behind. I particularly liked Harley and Joker in the Batman Beyond movie flashback, in which they choose to “adopt” Robin, as well as the Justice League episode Wild Cards, in which Harley has a rival for Joker’s affections.
5 Diana and Bruce (Wonder Woman and Batman)
“One: dating within a team always leads to disaster. Two: you’re a princess from a society of immortal warriors, and I’m a rich kid with issues. Lots of issues.” Bats, you’re so stoic and non-committal, but you know that you and Diana are meant for each other (and you WW/Superman shippers can go somewhere else). I just love the role reversal: Diana has superior physical strength and Batman has no supernatural powers, and she often catches Batman mid-air and he gets all grumpy. Even though Diana and Bruce are the couple that could never be, their attraction in Justice League is so adorable I wish it was more than that; Wonder Woman relentlessly flirts with him as tenagers in Kids’ Stuff and they pretend to be lovers while on the run in Starcrossed.
4 Helen and Bob (Elastigirl and Mr. Incredible)
Though not traditional comic book superheroes, Helen and Bob are reflective of real parents who have midlife crises and have to work at their relationship. This is what I most appreciate about them as a couple. Bob defines himself as a superhero, while Helen is happy as a stay-at-home mom; throughout the film they realize the importance of both their family life and superhero destinies. Usually we see superhero couples in this constant soap opera, usually dying and coming back to life (see #10 for one such example), but Bob and Helen are indicative of real people with flaws, especially when Bob resorts to lying about his new superhero gig and Helen’s fears about an affair mount. It’s really nice to see that superheroes can reflect our own lives instead of merely acting as entertainment.
3 Shayera and John (Hawkgirl and Green Lantern)
Shayera and John is the DCAU’s most unexpected, and in my eyes, most adorable couple. Their relationship was an ongoing process, as opposed to superficial attraction; as Phil LaMarr, the voice of GL, says in this interview, “The courtship [between Green Lantern and Hawkgirl] was one of the most mature relationships on television. The characters didn’t fall into bed. They had a courtship that went over two or three story arcs.” You really saw how these two came to respect each other as colleagues, enjoy each others’ company as friends, and then finally they became lovers, after Shayera got over her hesitation about how different they are–Shayera is technically an alien, if the wings didn’t give it away.
But at the same time, their commitment to each other has certainly gone through its share of trials–particularly Shayera’s betrayal to Thanagar, and John meeting their future son. I mean, seriously, that would probably break up any relationship! By the end of the Justice League series, the two are tentative friends, but John is resolute about leading his own life instead of playing pawn to fate (he must’ve learned it from Batman), so he’s still in a romantic relationship with Mari, aka Vixen. But if the future is any indication (insert Back to the Future theme song here), I think it’s safe to say that at some point, even if it takes another decade, they’ll end up together.
2 Kitty and Piotr (Shadowcat and Colossus)
Remember how I said that Dark Phoenix Saga was my first ever comic? Well, that comic also introduced Kitty Pryde, and I connected with her right from the start. She’s always been my favorite X-Man, and let’s face it, her and Colossus is so adorable–at first Kitty was just head-over-heels for the big lug, but he was always a little hesitant due to their age difference–13 to 19 when they first met! As they got older that became less of an issue, but of course, our dear writers formed more obstacles to keep us guessing: Kitty joined different teams, Piotr betrayed their relationship off-world, and then he died to save the world of the Legacy Virus. Kitty was devastated, but seemed to move on. Then, in Astonishing X-Men, Colossus returned in one of the greatest comic moments ever (see here). But while Whedon treated us to several scenes confirming that the two have consummated their relationships (close your eyes, kiddies!), he astonished us again when Kitty sacrificed herself to save the Earth (seems to be a recurring weakness between those two), effectively switching out one for the other. Thanks, Whedon. Not.
And now Kitty is coming back this summer, thanks to Matt Fraction–see my review here! Spoilers: Well, Kitty is back among the living, but she’s in a permanent phase-mode, which will definitely hinder her and Peter’s ability to be a couple. But still, probably the cutest scene is them gazing into each others’ eyes as Mr. Fantastic tries to find a way to cure her–so you know that they’ll be together through thick and thin (or phased, whatever)–but as usual, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
1 Babs and Dick (Batgirl and Robin)
Bwahaha! Seriously though. With a Babs theme, how could you guess differently? Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson are my all-time favorite couple, and I’ll square with you here: for the longest time I didn’t know why. Babs might be my favorite hero but their on again-off again relationship was anything but romantic–it was the product of decades of writers wheedling out their relationship to the limit. But over the years, I’ve come to realize that their love is, while soap opera-y. still unlike anyone else’s.
Babs is the only superhero to undergo a devastating injury like her paralysis, confining her to a wheelchair for life, and my respect for her skyrocketed when Babs reinvented herself as Oracle. While they needed time to get through this change, she and Dick, first Nightwing and then taking over as Batman, tentatively continued her relationship; their ability to work through this horrifying injury shows just how strong their relationship is, that it is more than skin deep and truly a matter of soul mates. Dick has recently assumed the cape and cowl of Batman, and he finally proposed to Barbara too (about friggin time!). I can only hope that Grant Morrison will allow the two to tie the knot after his series is over, even when Bruce Wayne returns–if not, I will be one unhappy fangirl.