Most people associate superheroes with derring-do and blockbuster action, but the genre involves more than just muscleheads punching one another into submission.
Whether in comic books, movies, or television shows, superhero stories have a history of romance. For those who want a bit of ardor with their galactic escapades and costumed crusades, the genre features some inspiring couples. Meet the greatest superhero romances ever.
1. Superman and Lois Lane
Because they debuted in Action Comics #1, the first superhero comic ever published, some might dismiss the romance between Clark Kent and Lois Lane as a simple genre requirement. The hero has to save a girl, right?
Wrong. From her very first appearance, Lois Lane maintained a fearlessness and set of principles that inspired Superman. With Lois and Clark, creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster set a model that other artists and writers would do well to emulate.
2. Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson
Like any other character with a dedicated fandom, Spider-Man has many stories that readers would label “the worst ever.” But almost every Spider-Man fan would agree that One More Day belongs at the bottom, the comic in which Peter Parker makes a deal with the devil to save the life of his beloved Aunt May, a deal that erases his marriage to Mary Jane Watson.
No, Mary Jane was not Peter’s first love (that descriptor belongs to Gwen Stacy, if not Betty Brant), nor was it his last. But against any questions raised by a gorgeous supermodel marrying sheepish nerd Peter Parker, Mary Jane proved herself Spidey’s greatest partner. For evidence, look no further than the upside-down kiss in 2002’s Spider-Man, the most romantic moment in any superhero movie ever released. It's worth noting that the Mary Jane in Sam Raimi's theatrical universe isn't quite as self-reliant as her comic book iteration.
3. Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy
For years, Harley Quinn labored under the terms of her creation. Harley first appeared in Batman: The Animated Series as the Joker’s girlfriend. From there, Harley jumped to the comics, where she garnered a legion of fans, despite the fact that she was a woman abused by her boyfriend to the point she lost her identity.
But when she teamed up with fellow villain Poison Ivy, starting with the Animated Series episode “Harley and Ivy,” a legendary romance began. The cold and calculating Ivy proves the perfect match for the maniacal Harley, who, in turn, helps the former Pamela Isely remember her humanity.
4. Flash and Linda Park
For most of his history, Wally West was the immature also-ran of the DC Comics universe. First introduced as Kid Flash, the super-speedster nephew of the first Flash Barry Allen, Wally didn’t treat his life with much seriousness. That included his relationships, as he shifted from woman to woman.
However, around the time that Barry Allen died and he took on the mantle of the Flash, Wally got serious with reporter Linda Park. Together, Wally and Linda became the superhero power couple, with the latter finding crimes for the former to stop, and the duo raising together a pair of super-powered kids.
5. Animal Man and Ellen Baker
Few superheroes match Buddy Baker, aka Animal Man, for sheer weirdness. Introduced in 1965’s Strange Adventures #1, Buddy Baker was a non-descript family man who gained the ability to mimic any animal from a pair of alien invaders, a change that shocked his supportive wife Ellen.
The Bakers faded into obscurity throughout the 70s and 80s, but came back when writer Grant Morrison’s reimagined Animal Man #1 in 1988. Since that comic and everything that followed, the Bakers have been a team, with Ellen keeping Buddy tied to humanity as his strange powers threaten to turn him into something inexplicable.
6. Captain America and Peggy Carter
In the comics, Peggy Carter is a footnote in the life of Captain America Steve Rogers, the sister/aunt/great-aunt of his true love, Sharon Carter. But when Hayley Atwell took on the role for 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, Cap’s history was re-written.
Thanks to the electric chemistry between Atwell and Chris Evans, who played Steve Rogers in the MCU, Cap and Peggy became the great doomed love of the franchise, two people who never got to share a dance until after the apocalyptic events of Avengers: Endgame.
7. Scarlet Witch and Vision
Superheroes often have their identities and backstories revised, but few have experienced as much as Wanda Maximoff, better known as the Scarlet Witch. Once considered the daughter of supervillain Magneto, Scarlet Witch served as a distinguished member of the Avengers, at least until her reality-altering powers overtook her and she became one of Marvel’s most powerful and most misunderstood heroes.
And yet, throughout that rocky existence, Wanda maintained a link to the synthezoid Vision, an android hero brought to life through the Scarlet Witch’s love and magic. As shown in the Disney+ series WandaVision, Wanda and Vision have a bond that not many other couples can match, but their love story blossomed long before Thanos invaded the MCU after their first meeting in “Avengers #76.”
8. Gambit and Rogue
With his French aphorisms and glowing red eyes, the Cajun X-Man Gambit could win the heart of anyone he pleases. And yet, no one captured his attention like fellow X-Man Rogue. While such couplings happen all the time among Marvel’s attractive group of mutants, Rogue’s powers present a unique difficulty.
Rogue drains the powers, and lifeforce, of anyone she touches, meaning even a simple kiss could leave Gambit dead. Despite that hurdle, Gambit and Rogue remain committed to one another, making the most of the times when Rogue’s powers shift, allowing them a few sweet moments of bliss.
9. Green Arrow and Black Canary
Oliver Queen, better known as the Emerald Archer Green Arrow, is an opinionated loud-mouth. Dinah Lance, better known as Black Canary, is a stoic leader and daughter of the first Black Canary.
Despite their differences, Green Arrow and Black Canary make for the most fiery and passionate couple in the DCU. When in agreement, the strong-willed heroes bolster one another, inspiring them to amazing feats. When disagreeing, they launch into explosive arguments, which must be neutralized by equally fiery romance.
10. Invisible Woman and Mr. Fantastic
No one should be fooled by the moniker that Reed Richards chose for himself, Mr. Fantastic. The true leader of the Fantastic Four is his wife Sue, the Invisible Woman. The two have been together since the quartet first got their powers, back when then Sue Storm called herself Invisible Girl.
Over the years, Sue’s fierce support of her family — including brother Johnny, aka the Human Torch, and children Franklin and Valeria— and support of her friends, most often teammates of the Thing, has allowed her to hold the oft-fractious team together and inspire them to become the greatest heroes in the Marvel Universe.
11. Jessica Jones and Luke Cage
Both Jessica Jones and Luke Cage have had tough lives, which forced them to take on tough exteriors. Jessica gained her powers from an accident that killed her family and left her in a coma. Luke gained his powers from experiments conducted at him after he went to prison on false pretenses.
Despite the scars from these experiences and the impenetrable skin that deflects bullets, Jessica and Luke found in one another someone with whom they could be vulnerable. That relationship has allowed them both to heal, resulting in not only a daughter Danielle, but also expanded roles in the Marvel Universe, including Cage leading the Avengers.
12. Midnighter and Apollo
Midnighter and Apollo first came from the series The Authority, a cynical riff on the Justice League that debuted in the early 2000. During their initial adventures with the Authority, the trench-coat-wearing Midnighter and the solar-powered Apollo committed horrific acts of violence. However, they reserved a remarkable tenderness for one another, a sweetness that belied their cruelty toward their enemies.
Since getting integrated into the mainstream DC Universe in 2011, the love between Midnighter and Apollo has grown richer, making the newcomers two of the best couples in a world already packed with great romances.
13. John Stewart and Katama Tui
Because this is a list about superheroes, one doomed romance had to appear.
Chosen to succeed Hal Jordan as Green Lantern of Earth, the Marine-turned-architect John Stewart had a rocky launch to his superhero career. He found stability through the training of Katma Tui, a veteran of the Green Lantern Corps who also felt out of place.
Together, John and Katma established a sense of belonging in the Corps, helping usher their fellow Green Lanterns through a difficult patch. But the bliss came to an end when the villainous Star Sapphire hunted Lanterns to get revenge against her arch-enemy Hal Jordan, killing Katma and leaving John forever bereft
14. Mr. Miracle and Big Barda
Members of the space-age deities known as the New Gods, Mr. Miracle and Big Barda had terrible childhoods, raised on the nightmarish planet Apokolips under the dominion of the tyrant Darkseid. From that horrid upbringing, Mr. Miracle and Big Barda found one another, with the latter using her mighty warrior training and the former his skills as a master escape artist to leave Apokolips and settle on Earth.
Whether as members of the Justice League or living a banal suburban life, Mr. Miracle and Big Barda give new meaning to the term power couple.
15. Superman and Jay Nakamura
Before anyone gets upset, rest assured that Clark Kent has not left poor Lois Lane. In fact, the two have a son named Jon, who inherited his father’s amazing abilities. After time-travel shenanigans aged the boy to young adulthood, Clark trusted his son enough to leave the Superman mantle with Jon while he spent months away from Earth.
As Superman, Jon has unending demands on his attention. His greatest respite comes with his boyfriend, the reporter and activist Jay Nakamura. As with the classic Lois and Clark dynamic, Jay’s principles drive Jon to do all he can for others. But Jay has his own ability to phase through any substance, making him the one person on Earth that Superman does not have to save, allowing the couple to live in peace together.
16. Deadpool and Vanessa
It’s hard to imagine anyone falling for Wade Wilson, the crude and relentless Merc with a Mouth known as Deadpool. In fact, the comic book version of Deadpool found short-lived love with the monster princess Shiklah.
But in the movies, Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) has his ideal partner in the equally uncouth Vanessa, played by Morena Baccarin. In everything from a sense of humor to their evening practices, Deadpool and Vanessa find their match in one another, proving that there is someone for everyone — even unkillable mercenaries.
17. Elongated Man and Sue Dibny
In their heyday, Sue and Ralph “The Elongated Man” Dibny enjoyed the ideal marriage. While Ralph got most of the attention, due to his stretchy limbs that allowed him to extend his body in odd configurations, it took both of them to solve some of the most challenging mysteries in the world, capers that stumped even Batman.
Although ill-conceived storylines sent both Sue and Ralph to their deaths, the couple continued fighting the good fight as the Ghost Detectives — at least until a reboot of the DC Universe brought them back together in the land of the living.
18. Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor
Wonder Woman doesn’t do things like other superheroes, and not because she’s the most notable superheroine. Wonder Woman’s creator, Dr. William Moulton Marston, came with the character to expound his belief in loving submission to powerful women.
That belief played out most in the relationship between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, the pilot/spy who becomes the first man to set foot on Themyscara after crash-landing on the island. Trevor’s arrival inspires Princess Diana to leave Paradise Island and become Wonder Woman, who in turn shows Steve — and anyone else willing to learn — a better form of leadership. Throughout their comic book run, the pairing bounced between good friends and lovers, and Diana has had many men swoon for her. However, she always seemed to wind up with her main squeeze.
19. Hawkeye and Laura Barton
“The city is flying and we're fighting an army of robots, and I have a bow and arrow,” the archer Hawkeye says in Avengers: The Age of Ultron. “Nothing makes sense.”
Even when in his Hawkeye guise, Clint Barton made for a strange fit in the world of the Avengers. He fits much better with his wife Laura, with whom he lives on a farm and raises their three children. In Age of Ultron and in the TV series Hawkeye, Laura proved herself a cunning strategist, helping the team get some needed rest and reconnecting Tony Stark with Nick Fury.
20. Cyclops and the White Queen
Since the debut of the X-Men in 1963, Cyclops has been linked with fellow founding member Jean Grey, a connection so great that Cyke married Jean’s clone after she died (she got better). But Cyclops’s richest relationship came the next time that she died (she got better again), with the former villain Emma Frost, the White Queen.
A powerful telepath with razor-sharp cutting humor, the White Queen taught Cyke to drop his square hero persona, while Cyclops helped her see the importance of fighting for mutant rights. Sadly, the relationship didn’t last long, with Cyclops returning to Jean and Emma, in current continuity, married to Tony Stark.
21. Invincible and Atom Eve
When Mark Grayson learned that he inherited his father’s awesome alien powers and took the name Invincible, he hoped that other heroes his age would accept him. However, he received the cold should from members of the Teen Team, including the matter manipulator Atom Eve.
Despite some initial tension, the two soon came together and formed a strong bond, one that has survived multiversal exploits and even the birth of a child.
22. Wiccan and Hulkling
Tommy Maximoff, the teenage hero called Wiccan, knows about weirdness. The son of the Scarlet Witch and the Vision, Tommy has been winked in an out of existence more than he can count. That experience taught Tommy to roll with cosmic stakes, making him the perfect match for his husband Teddy, a shapeshifting scion of Kree and Skrull heritage who calls himself Hulkling.
From their time together on the Young Avengers, to Teddy’s reign as Dorrek VIII of the combined Kree/Skrull Empire, Wiccan and Hulkling support one another through all the weirdness of their superhero lives.
23. Captain Britain and Meggan
Not everyone can love Brian Braddock, the arrogant man who became the mystical hero Captain Britain. But Meggan isn’t just anyone — in fact, as an empathetic metamorph who can change her shape to meet the expectations of others. As key members of the UK-based team Excalibur, Meggan and Captain Britain bring out the best in one another, which Brian providing Meggan the stability she needs and Meggan reminding Captain Britain that the universe is bigger than him.
24. Lightning Lass and Shrinking Violet
At the start of their careers in the 31st century teenage team the Legion of Superheroes, Lightning Lass and Shrinking Violet were colleagues at best. However, as the duo matured and the stakes of their adventures grew more pronounced, both women suffered significant trauma.
Together, the two found comfort and understanding with one another. Even when the military from Shrinking Violet’s home planet conscripted her into galactic war, forcing the two to part, she and Lightning Lass maintained a connection significant enough to survive multiple reboots that reimagined the characters.