Split Decision: Favorite “Superhero” Romances

We here at Cinedelphia are incredibly hyped for BLACK PANTHER this week, and so we’re celebrating all week long, leading up to our review on Thursday night! Find the coverage from all week here!

Welcome back to Split Decision! Each week, we pose a question to our staff of knowledgable and passionate film geeks and share the responses! We may never know if it is legal to park in the center of Broad Street, but we’ll answer movie questions all day long. Feel free to chime in on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments below!

This week’s question:

In honor of Valentine’s Day, what is your favorite romance in a “superhero” or comic book movie?

I’m going with the classic bromance of James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes and my boyfriend Steven Rogers. Friendship often leads to the greatest of loves, and I can’t think of two people that are bonded more in friendship than these two devilish hunks. Torn apart by war, both men rise from the dead and are fated to live in a world neither feels they belong in completely. The one thing that keeps them motivated is each other. I’m rooting for these two to make it. As long as I’m there too. Till the end of the line —Jill Malcolm

My favorite superhero/comic book romance is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, where the title character (Michael Cera) falls for Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Their romance is sweet, geeky, and even a bit tongue-in-cheek. He fights her seven evil exes (one being a girl, which is a great touch) to win her heart. That’s romantic in the epic, literary sense–another reason why I am stupid for this film. It appeals to my cockeyed heart.–Gary M. Kramer

I always found Catwoman (Selina Kyle) and Batman to be a strong romance. They are equals in terms of strength and talents, and it’s clear what they see in each other considering they both have a lot to hide. The best portrayal is in Batman Returns, between Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer. The final scene features Wayne thinking he sees Kyle prancing around in an alleyway, only to find a stray cat that he takes home. As Wayne’s limousine leaves the scene, we see that she is in fact there. Like everything for these two characters, true peace and a semblance of normality is just out of reach.–Andy Elijah

I may be suffering from a bit of recency bias, but I was oddly moved by the romance between Wade Wilson and Vanessa in 2016’s Deadpool.  The playfully raunchy chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Morena Baccarin is hilarious and believable, but what I did not expect is for that to give way to something much more earnest and deeply impactful when life’s misfortune interrupts their story. This is especially surprising considering how economical director Tim Miller is with their scenes together.  I mean, there’s a sex montage to illustrate the passage of time… If that’s not spot-on for the source material while crafting an affecting love story, I don’t know what is!  I guess they knew what they were doing, releasing it on Valentine’s Day…–Jeff Piotrowski

While there are a plethora of classic superhero and comic book romances that have graced the silver screen, I’m going to have to go with Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) from the 2004 Pixar flick The Incredibles. Not only is the movie just generally super enjoyable, but it does a great job of balancing the superhero material with the everyday struggles of suburban life, raising a family, and fostering a loving marriage amidst fighting evil. It only took 14 years, but I’m super pumped for Incredibles 2! —Catherine Haas

One of my favorite under-explored nooks of the MCU would be the romance between Natasha Romanoff and Bruce Banner. It’s an adorable coupling which is borne of shared shame over their respective histories of violence. These are both good people who’ve been through hell, but they still feel indebted to those affected by their mistakes. It was a fun touch in Age of Ultron to give them a handful of “meet cutes.” Even better was watching them play coy despite their romance being painfully obvious to the fellow Avengers. Best of all was how Natasha was the only person capable of talking the Hulk back into Bruce — she’s the only one who is able do it without violence.

I dream of a romantic comedy starring these two characters. I imagine them trying their darndest to have a relaxing honeymoon only to have it shaken up by Avengery concerns. “Hey Jealousy” is naturally involved. —Dan Scully
 My favorite superhero romance is the only one I’ve ever believed – Diana Prince and Steve Trevor in Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman. There’s a lot to be said for reversing gender roles in film – the character of Kevin in Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters comes to mind as a great deconstruction of the vapid blonde character found in many male-centric comedies. But currently, that’s almost always how gender reversals work in our movies. They’re an exaggeration meant to point out how ridiculous this reduction of women is, and how standard it has become. In Wonder Woman, Jenkins doesn’t take away our male heroes and replace them with women, nor does she populate her film with overblown stereotypes of male heroes and use Diana as a counterpoint to prove a thesis about the fragility of male heroism. She just puts them on equal ground. And then she takes it a step further. 
The romance that develops between Steve and Diana is not simply born of two equals, or two halves that make a whole. Nor is it stripped of its sexuality, as sometimes seems to be the response to the call for more “strong women”, a term that has already gone out of vogue, and with good reason. It’s a romance that should be very familiar to anyone who has truly found a great counterpart in life – two great people with steadfast ideals that recognize their own faults and lift each other up in what they lack individually. Two exceptional talents that are willing to fight with each other without undermining their character. Two incredibly sexy people that should do incredibly sexy things with one another because FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CAN’T OUR HEROES BE HAPPY!?
Wonder Woman certainly delivers as a superhero film, but like the romance that unfolds, what it lacks in a villain and a great third act it more than makes up for in the stakes that Diana and Steve’s love for one another add to the drama. The Dark Knight is a great film, but you won’t find any great pieces on Rachel and Bruce’s relationship and what it does for their characters and thus the series at large. Whereas the fight that Diana and Steve have in the ramp up to the finale ofWonder Woman is the only time I’ve ever cried in a superhero movie. I believe their love, I believe IN their love, and I believe in the future they so desperately desire. A future that is only bolstered for both of them in the love they find in each other. —Garrett Smith
I have to go with the classic. In my mind, this might be the only answer, and that is Superman and Lois Lane in Superman: The Movie. As Lex Luthor’s plot is unfolding unbeknownst to the Man of Steel, the middle section of this film essentially functions like a traditional romance film. Clark/Superman is into Lois, but Lois wants Superman and not Clark. This love triangle is the essential cornerstone of comic book romances, and it has never again been so clearly captured on screen. Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder have excellent chemistry, which is underlined by Kidder’s constant sense of awe when in the presence of Superman. They flirt, they fly, and yes, it might get a little cheesy, but there’s nothing wrong with embracing that, either. —Ryan Silberstein

Author: Jill Malcolm

Jill is happiest attending midnight screenings with other crazy film fans at her local theater. Her other passions include reading, traveling to faraway places, cat videos, pugs, and jalapeño peppers. She is co-founder of the blog Filmhash.

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