When Superheroes Marry
Tackling the deadly Joker is all in a day’s work for the Batman, but present him with one hot woman in a skin-tight catsuit and there isn’t a gadget in his futility belt that can help him fight his feelings. Still, despite dalliances with engagement and marriage in some of his incarnations, Bruce Wayne, as we know and love him, is the perennial billionaire bachelor. Staggered decided to investigate what happens when superheroes marry, and asks the question; “If the Green Lantern likes it, should he put a power ring on it?”
Clark Kent and Lois Lane
The original superhero, and the original superhero love story. Superman and Lois Lane are the most enduring and iconic couple in the world of comics, with the possible exception of Garfield and Arlene, and those strange children from ‘Love Is…’.
Fittingly, after a relationship lasting some 70 years, their wedding was treated as a huge event by D.C. Though it now seems a foregone conclusion, their marriage was not always seen as inevitable. The pair have faced every problem a couple can in the world of superhero comics, and then some. The question of their physical compatibility often raises its head, both because of his immense strength, and his extra-terrestrial nature. This problem could be said to affect many civilian partners of superheroes.
Superman’s reluctance to marry Lois has seen her wed to others such as Batman and even Jimmy Olsen in her time, and their love seemed entirely doomed when the early ’90s saw the death of Earth’s greatest protector. But like all true, great loves, throughout all the many and varied incarnations of Superman, he and Lois are fated, soulmates, and he returned to her in time for an ambitious crossover between the comics and the charming and popular television series Lois and Clark: the New Adventures of Superman. The couple were finally wed simultaneously on the show and in the comic in 1996, and though Lois retained the name Lane for professional reasons, and presumably for the sheer joy of alliteration, the Kents remain the greatest marriage in all of superhero comics.
One of the great challenges of marriage is maintaining trust in a relationship with any level of secrecy, and The Incredibles find themselves forced into an exaggerated life of secrecy on the very day of their wedding. The opening of this fantastic animation sees superhero Mr. Incredible battling through the ultimate wedding day disaster morning on his way to meet fellow crime fighter Elastigirl at the altar. Crazed fanboys, insane French enemies and stranded kittens conspire to keep the pair from getting to the church on time, but help is on hand from super best man, Frozone, and we are eventually introduced to Mr. & Mrs. Incredible, Bob and Helen Parr.
Though forced into retirement, the couple stay in practice, waging super-powered domestic wars with their kids and each other, before Bob’s super mid-life crisis stirs up old feelings, and a chance encounter with a mysterious beauty sees him facing up to responsibilities both to his job, and to his marriage. When your superhero wife suspects you of having an affair, you’d better watch out, as Helen proves by activating a homing device on Mr. Incredible’s new costume. Discovering her husband is in jeopardy awakens the old Elastigirl, and the ensuing rescue mission puts the family in a position to see just what a great team they make.
Reed & Sue Richards
The matriarch and patriarch of the Fantastic Four, the most popular superhero team in the Marvel universe, Reed Richards and Susan Storm had no need to conceal their true identities from the world, and as they acquired their powers in the same accident, no need to hide them from one another. Their openness and popularity brings with it its own set of problems of course, and their wedding attracted a lot of attention from the super-villain community. An attack force, led by arch-nemesis Dr. Doom, promptly crashed the wedding.
Luckily the guest list comprised a who’s who of superheroes, and the threat was dealt with in due course. They have since briefly attempted to maintain invented secret identities, but trouble is never far behind when you’re a superhero. Like the copyright-baiting Incredibles, the Richards’ were blessed and cursed with a dangerously powerful baby, and their marital relationship has been challenged on several occasions, mainly by Reed’s apparent coldness and devotion to science, as well as their moral differences. They remain, however, Marvel’s most enduring family.
Scott Summers and Jean Grey
There’s a theme that pops up in popular culture when it comes to marriage, a fear instilled in many men by over-dramatic fathers and 1970s sitcoms. What happens if you marry the love of your life, only for her to transform into a psychotic bitch from hell? The X-Men would provide us with an extreme example in its infamous and ongoing Phoenix saga, though Jean Grey’s initial symbiosis with the star-eating entity known as Phoenix actually occurred before they were married.
When Jean apparently sacrificed her own life to stop the Phoenix, her team-mate and boyfriend Scott, or ‘Cyclops’ to his friends, moved on and married a clone of his lost love. They had a son together before Scott discovered the clone had been created by aptly named arch enemy Mr. Sinister. The real Jean returned (“rising like a phoenix from the ashes” see?) to battle her clone to the death. The son was transported to the future, in order to save him from an infection given to him by another of their enemies. Scott and Jean got their chance to raise him after they finally got married, and their spirits spent an extended honeymoon alongside him in the future – as you do.
As if their marriage wasn’t already hopelessly complicated, the mutant Mr. & Mrs. have since faced adversity in the form of love triangles, with Wolverine constantly humping Jean’s leg and Scott conducting psychic affairs with the sultry Emma Frost. Perhaps the greatest threat to their marriage though, is the many occasions on which each has been widowed. At the time of going to press, Jean is still currently deceased, and Scott remains romantically involved with Emma Frost. Possibly. Keeping up with X-Men continuity is difficult. What’s certain is, the love story between Scott and Jean is an important part of X-Men history, and is almost certain to resurface.
Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson
Having been introduced to the true believers as an awkward teen suddenly granted the powers of cool, Your Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man has been involved with several girls throughout his history, but the most iconic of these is the feisty, flame-haired MJ. When it came to the movie adaptation, the love interest had to be her, and the complications of their relationship had to fit the mantra of his life: “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
More than any other, Spider-Man is the hero who most struggles with the idea that, for his loved ones, exposure to his life would put them in danger. It’s a fair point; his college sweetheart Gwen Stacy was murdered by arch-nemesis The Green Goblin, whose quest to torment Spider-Man by attacking those Parker loved survived even the death of the original Goblin, Norman Osborn, becoming his legacy when he was replaced by his son Harry. MJ is no quitter though, she knows what she wants and she gets it. Eventually the two were married, and although Peter’s fears were realised as foes privy to his true identity would indeed attempt to hurt him through Mrs. Parker, their marriage endured.
In a move X-Men writers (and, heck, some people in real life) might welcome, Spider-Man continuity was quashed in 2007, when their marriage was erased from history and from their memories as part of a deal with the devil intended to save the life of Peter’s aunt May, but Marvel have hinted that their favourite couple will be wed once more this year.
Mrs. The Punisher
For some, a fear of commitment is based on a lack of self-confidence, and could better be described as a fear of loss. Can one take the risk of jumping in with both feet for love? If we come to define ourselves as one half of a partnership, who would we be should we ever lose our other halves? What happens if tragedy tears us apart irreconcilably?
In the case of The Punisher, the protagonist effectively renounces his humanity and becomes a weapon, an instrument of revenge. Though we never get to meet Frank Castle’s dearly departed Maria (except in the terrible, terrible film version), her absence is keenly felt in the pages of Marvel’s most popular, non-cycling, non-flaming skulled vengeful anti-hero.
The Punisher’s is less a tale of what happens when superheroes wed, as it is a tragic account of how superheroes can be born from loss and a salient lesson to all wedding guests to keep the receipt for any gifts. As a war veteran and trained killer, it’s difficult to imagine The Punisher having been destined for a life of domesticity, but it is the loss of Frank Castle’s wife and children, and the failure of the corrupt police force to bring their killers to justice, that gives him the conviction to devote his life to vigilante justice.
So that’s our list of the most noteworthy examples of super matrimony. And what have we learned? The hero always gets the girl, but that’s only the beginning of the adventure. When you find your Lois, don’t hide behind a secret identity. When it comes to the wedding day, don’t let fear in; you’ll be surrounded by your super best friends. Whatever rows may come, your wife will never consume planets, so keep things in perspective. Most important of all, don’t let yourself worry about the future at the expense of the moment. Keep all these things in mind and you can leave your fortress of solitude behind and become a dynamic duo! Holy mixed matrimonial metaphor! These superhero metaphors are getting clunky. Excelsior!