Lovefool 02.21.11 | Sue + Reed = 4eva! (Maybe.)

Is happily-ever-after even possible for the capes-n-tights set? Lovefool has her doubts.

Oh, to be a superhero! To spend one’s days prancing around in perfectly color-coordinated spandex suits and not ever, ever looking like you spent the last night rolling around in the bottom of a bottle of something called Dude unless, of course, something really sad just happened. And even then! Even then, the superhero merely looks grave and thoughtful, cinematically haggard, instead of looking unshowered and blotchy, as the rest of us do in moments like that. Yes, it must be nice to live the super life, complete with lots of cash (unless you’re Peter Parker, of course, and even then you fall in with rich friends eventually) and big houses and magical tiaras and all that. But is it all peaches and cream? I don’t really think so. Let’s run down some of the classic suspects.
Superman! The Man of Steel, the big blue Boy Scout, is married to the beautiful and clever Lois Lane but still seems to be the loneliest cape on the block sometimes because it’s true, in his case, that you can never go home again. Batman, that perennial playboy imposter, doesn’t have it any easier—there’s that whole thing with Catwoman and then there’s Talia and his secret child and, ugh, that sounds complicated even after I’ve broken it down to that. Never mind the fact that his entire vigilante career started with the death of his (and everyone’s) first love—his parents. In front of him, in an alley, after a movie. I might have started shoving bullies around myself.
Spider-Man also starts his career with the death of a loved one and, shortly after, accidentally kills his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, in an attempt to save her life. After all that, he later ends up trading his marriage to Mary Jane Watson and any memory of it to save his aunt at the off-page behest of a Marvel editor who was later quoted as saying, "Peter being single is an intrinsic part of the very foundation of the world of Spider-Man.” And you thought it sucked when your friend asked if it was cool to take your ex out for a drink… Poor Wonder Woman had a relationship with a fallen fighter pilot taken out of continuity just for being boring. And don’t even get me started on Tony Stark and Pepper Potts. (I’m sorry, what was that, Bethany Cabe? Rumiko? Happy? No, nothing? Good.) And it’d take a whole different column to sort out the X-Men.
Even the most famous example of superhero romance gone right that we have, Sue Storm and Reed Richards, has its ups and downs. And we can blame retconning and continuity errors for some superhero love woes but, ultimately, it seems that with great power comes great complication. So what is it that drives writers and authors and that meddling Joe Q to never let our caped (and cowled and suited, etc) crusaders have happily-ever-after relationships? Isn’t it enough that they spend all of their time saving our collective ass from increasingly more terrifying villains?
I guess not. Like a soap opera for nerds, superheroes and heroines never get to that happily-ever-after and, when they get there, they don’t get to keep it. What’s our fascination with miserable, angsty superheroes? Is it basic jealousy? Are we miffed that we don’t have caves full of neat toys and island homes far away from the cities of Men? Is it just our desire to see these superpeople taken down a notch?
I don’t think so. I really think that, in this particular case, happiness is boring. Even Sue has to disappear every once in a while when Reed gets her down because what’s the fun in watching two superheroes talk out whose turn it is to do the dishes? I know that I read comic books to step outside of my daily life of tiny joys and sorrows. When I pick up those glossy books, I want it to be magical, otherworldly. And maybe that’s what happened to MJ: she was a good girl, but she just wasn’t out of this world. | Erin Jameson

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