There’s a school of thought that people should never date their co-workers. Sure it might be fun at first, but if things end badly, it’s guaranteed to result in some pretty awkward encounters around the water cooler. Thankfully, this doesn’t appear to be one of the numerous bylaws in the Avengers charter. Over the decades, a whole host of Avengers have hooked up, crashed and burned, or “consciously uncoupled,” with their fictional emotional pain being the readers’ gain.
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With the high-pressure world that the Avengers inhabit, as well as the adrenaline rush that comes from staring danger in the face on a regular basis, it’s perhaps not surprising that teammates often become something more. During the team’s existence there have been enough flings, marriages, divorces and dalliances to fill the Daily Bugle’s gossip pages many times over. Read on as we count down 16 of the most memorable Avengers romances.
16. Janet Van Dyne And Tony Stark
On paper, Janet Van Dyne and Tony Stark seem like a good match. They both appreciate the finer things in life, mix in similar social circles, and can be terrific flirts when around the opposite sex. In many ways it’s easier to imagine Jan with Tony instead of Hank Pym, her long-time partner. After many years together, Hank and Jan separated after he hit her in the controversial “Avengers” #213. When Hank was later sentenced to prison, Janet began to date again, eventually starting a relationship with Tony Stark.
What makes the relationship somewhat unsavory is that although Tony knew Jan in both her civilian and superhero identities, Jan had no idea that Tony was also Iron Man, her long–time Avengers teammate. The fact that Tony attempted to justify this deception to himself portrayed him in a poor light and it was only right that Steve Rogers read him the riot act for being less than truthful with Jan. When Tony did confess his identity, Janet wanted nothing to do with him anymore, furious at his perceived deception. For someone so smart, Tony Stark just can’t seem to help making bad choices around women.
15. Aunt May And Jarvis
A vocal segment of fandom has long spoken out against the “One More Day” story line, and its erasure of Peter Parker and Mary Jane’s marriage. This was certainly a polarizing move, but it overlooks the fact that the story line also erased another romance — that of May Parker and Edwin Jarvis. The relationship between Peter Parker’s aunt and the Avengers’ faithful butler may not have been central to any story lines, but seeing their relationship grow from friendship to romance was wonderful, shining a light on two characters who all-too-often remain in the background.
During the Parker family’s all too brief stay in Avengers Tower, May and Edwin bonded. Aunt May’s character had been developed by writer J. Michael Straczynski during his run on “Amazing Spider-Man,” highlighting her inner strength. He allowed May to take her immersion in the world of superheroes in stride, making pancakes for the team and berating Wolverine for his smoking habit. Sadly, the events of “Civil War” and then “One More Day” tore this budding romance apart, but while it lasted, it provided readers with a sweet, organic and downright adorable relationship.
14. Ms. Marvel And Wonder Man
The relationship between Carol Danvers and Simon Williams is one that’s been in constant flux over the years. Their first encounters, during the Korvac saga in the late 1970s, saw Simon constantly amazed by Carol’s status as a liberated woman who could easily handle herself in a fight. As Simon marveled, “She hauls off and belts people — like a man would!” he was often wont to say. Despite Simon’s less than enlightened views, there was an obvious spark, although the two wouldn’t embark on a relationship until decades later.
Even then, the exact status of their relationship is a little murky. During “Mighty Avengers,” the characters were confirmed to be dating, but in Ms. Marvel’s own title at the time, her feelings for Simon seemed more ambivalent. He was obviously keen on her, but she was more interested in William Wagner, a “normal” guy that Carol Danvers had met. It was only when William went missing, presumed dead, that Carol reached out to Simon. Even then, it seemed more out of a desire for comfort than any real affection for him. Sadly for Simon, this often seems to be his fate in comics, falling for women that don’t return the intensity of his feelings.
13. Hercules And Black Widow
They say opposites attract, which was certainly the case in this short-lived dalliance. The party-loving Lion of Olympus and the serious super spy were an unlikely match, but provided readers with some fun moments. What’s interesting about this relationship is how much is left for the reader to infer. Their relationship began in the pages of “The Champions,” the short-lived team that both heroes served on. Even then, though, it is only referenced in scattered panels, rather than being an overarching plot. More panel time for the two came on their return to “The Avengers” title during the legendary Korvac saga.
As the couple make their way to Avengers mansion, it’s clear that Natasha is growing frustrated with the genial personality of Hercules. His admission that the lives of mortals are a wink of an eye for Gods also gives her food for thought. Shortly afterwards, the two broke up, after Natasha resumed her flirtation with Matt Murdock. Despite the underdeveloped nature of their romantic relationship, their shared history has led to some fun moments in the years since, particularly in the pages of “The Incredible Hercules,” where Natasha had to stop a rampaging Hercules driven mad by Hydra blood.
12. Captain America And Scarlet Witch
When Steve Rogers and Wanda Maximoff first kissed in the pages of “Captain America and Falcon” #6 in 2004, it was a kiss nearly 40 years in the making. When Scarlet Witch joined the Avengers in “Avengers” #16 in 1965 as part of Cap’s famous “kooky quartet,” she was quickly revealed to have a crush on Steve Rogers. While Quicksilver and Hawkeye continually complained and aggravated each other, Steve Rogers was a different character altogether, and Wanda’s infatuation was clear for the reader to see. However, this one-sided crush was never developed and Wanda’s attentions were soon focused elsewhere after the Vision joined the team.
Part of the fun of comics and the continuity that ongoing series amass is that even the most innocuous of events can be picked up and explored years later. This was the case with Wanda and Steve. During the “Avengers Disassembled” event, Wanda had a mental breakdown and turned against her teammates. As part of this scheme, she manipulated Cap into a relationship of sorts, leaving Steve utterly unsure of what was real and what was a product of his fevered imagination.
11. Hank Pym And Tigra
Relationships between Avengers are rarely straightforward, but that between Hank Pym and Greer Nelson — otherwise known as Tigra — was particularly complicated. After a furtive fumble during their time in the West Coast branch of the Avengers, Hank and Tigra embarked on a relationship when both were involved with the Initiative, with Tigra eventually falling pregnant. So, what was the problem? Well, the Hank Pym that Tigra had been dating was revealed to be a Skrull. When the real Hank Pym returned, he had no memory of the relationship, or any inkling that he was soon to be a father.
If this sounds like the set-up for a bad sitcom, it’s doing the relationship a disservice. In the pages of “Avengers Academy,” Hank and Tigra embarked on a real, mature relationship, one that saw them move from awkward interactions into genuine contentment. Unusually for comic book couples, they discussed their hopes and fears and expectations of each other, and from that point could move on and build a future together. Sadly, this relationship was scarcely referred to after the cancellation of “Avengers Academy,” and Hank’s current status as a meat suit for Ultron suggests that a happy ending for him and Tigra is most likely not on the cards.
10. Luke Cage And Jessica Jones
If the relationship between the Vision and Scarlet Witch defined the Avengers for the ’70s, the relationship between Luke Cage and Jessica Jones took center stage in the “New Avengers” era. Luke and Jessica’s relationship had started in the pages of “Alias;” but by the end of that series, they were in a steady relationship and Jessica was pregnant with their child. Their relationship continued to evolve after Luke joined the “New Avengers” in 2004, highlighting Luke’s transformation from loner into dedicated family man. When the pair married in “New Avengers Annual” #1, it seemed like the logical progression of their relationship.
Of course, as with any couple in the Marvel universe, the two have had their ups and downs. They’ve also had to deal with the stress and worry that comes from raising a family in a world where a supervillain attack could be just around the corner. They have come through it all as strong as ever, and the exploration of their relationship in Marvel’s current Netflix programs looks set to give the pair more exposure than ever before.
9. Black Widow And Hawkeye
If there’s been one constant over Clint Barton’s history, it’s that his taste in women has caused him no end of problems. He fell for the Scarlet Witch when she was falling in love with The Vision, embarked on a controversial relationship with Moonstone, and fell out with Hank Pym due to a brief romance with The Wasp. Clint’s weakness for a pretty face goes all the way back to his first appearance in “Tales of Suspense” #57, where he became ensnared in the web of the Black Widow.
During her initial appearances in “Tales of Suspense” as a dedicated Communist agent, Natasha was calculating, deadly, and intent on destroying Tony Stark. She enlisted Hawkeye to her cause through a mixture of half-truths and feminine wiles, and it was clear that Hawkeye’s reason for participating was to impress Natasha rather than a belief in their shared mission. The two would eventually break up after Natasha defected to the USA, with Natasha embarking on a relationship with Matt Murdock. Luckily, she and Clint retain a strong bond of friendship.
8. Ultron/Jocasta/Hank Pym/The Wasp
To quote a blue-hued former Avenger, “Oh my stars and garters!” There have been many complicated relationships between Avengers over the years, but the dynamic between the extended “Pym family,” in all its twisted sub-oedipal glory, has to be one of the strangest.
Ultron was initially created by Hank Pym, who the murderous robot mockingly called “father” while generally deriding humanity. This, however, didn’t stop Ultron from creating Jocasta as a robotic bride, intending to bring her to life by fusing the robot shell with the Wasp’s life force. Jan’s personality did bring Jocasta to life, but not in the way that Ultron intended — it helped her reject Ultron’s plans of conquest and turn against him.
Where things get really messed up is the period after the Wasp’s presumed death in “Secret Invasion.” Hank Pym not only took on the Wasp identity to honour Janet’s memory, but also embarked on a relationship with Jocasta. It’s hardly surprising that many of Hank’s teammates were rather worried about his mental state at this time. The relationship was brought to an end in “Mighty Avengers” #36, when Jocasta was joined with Ultron in an arranged marriage, in return for his ceasing hostilities against the Avengers.
7. Hazmat And Mettle
It’s hard to write about this relationship without a sense of disappointment for what might have been. The build-up of the relationship was so well executed, developing organically over the 39-issue run of “Avengers Academy.” At the close of the series, Hazmat and Mettle were truly happy; then, “Avengers Arena” came along and Mettle became the latest in a long line of minor characters to be used as cannon fodder. Sometimes it’s hard being a fan of lesser known characters.
Saying that, their relative obscurity is also a large part of what made Mettle and Hazmat so appealing. Safe in “Avengers Academy,” removed from big crossovers and solo books, they were free to develop on their own terms. Mettle was instrumental to Hazmat’s transformation over the course of the series. In #1, she is locked within her radiation suit, putting up physical and emotional barriers between her and the outside world, but by the end of the series she has let Mettle into her life, to the benefit of both characters. As Mettle tells her, he doesn’t bemoan his lot in life because, “I’ve got you. And that’s way more than okay with me.”
6. Hulkling And Wiccan
The relationship between Hulking and Wiccan is important on a number of levels, but perhaps the most noteworthy is that the two were the first prominent homosexual superhero couple in the Marvel universe. Showing how things have changed in the years since Northstar declared his sexuality in the pages of “Alpha Flight,” Hulking and Wiccan didn’t need to draw attention to this fact or make their sexuality what defined each of them. They were simply two people who loved each other.
The relationship between the two has evolved in the decade since their first appearance in “Young Avengers” #1, but what has remained constant is the strength and support that each draws from the other. Billy was a great support for Teddy when his alien parentage was revealed, while Teddy helped Billy recover from the emotionally shattering events of “The Children’s Crusade.” With the two characters now engaged, wedding bells are sure to follow.
5. Justice And Firestar
Vance Astrovik and Angelica Jones have been depicted as a couple for the majority of their comic appearances, making it somewhat difficult to get used to the reality that they’re no longer together. The development of their relationship was a key theme in the first run of “New Warriors,” their friendship developing into a loving relationship with both characters providing each other with mutual support.
When Justice and Firestar joined the Avengers during Kurt Busiek’s run, both characters had to support the other. Vance was paralyzed with indecision after achieving his dream of joining the Avengers, torn between a desire to impress and a fear of failure. At the same time, Angel continued to struggle with the implications that using her powers had on her long-term health prospects. They were always there for each other, and it was fitting that when they left the team, they did so together. Sadly, Firestar called off their wedding due to her feeling that the pair were moving too fast for their age, although they still remain friends.
4. Sersi/Black Knight/Crystal/Quicksilver
Dane Whitman (The Black Knight) is a character who has rarely had much success in love. He had an unrequited crush on The Wasp during Roger Stern’s run and more recently, in the pages of “Captain Britain and MI13,” embarked on a relationship with Faiza Hussain. Dane was central to the mid ‘90s Avengers team, with its membership largely devoid of representation from “the big three” — Cap, Thor and Iron Man. This meant that there was a greater focus on less well-known Avengers, with the entwined relationships between Sersi, Black Knight, Crystal and Quicksilver being central to this run.
This plot is so effective because no one character of the four is demonized at the expense of the others. They are all portrayed as very human characters (despite their powers), doing the best they can to find happiness and make the right choices. Even Quicksilver, a character often portrayed as unlikable and a poor husband, comes across as a sympathetic character. The Bob Harras/Steve Epting run on “The Avengers” is often overlooked, and these four characters are a large part of the reason it still stands up today.
3. Hank Pym And Janet Van Dyne
Ant Man and Wasp were already a couple when they joined the Avengers and their relationship has been instrumental to many of the storylines for both characters. It was a life-threatening injury to Jan that caused the duo to leave the team for the first time, while Hank’s adoption of the Yellowjacket identity led to a typically riotous superhero wedding. It seemed that the two would continue to flit in and out of the Avengers books, always supporting the other. Then came “Avengers” #213.
When Hank hit Jan in that infamous panel, everything changed, both for their relationship together and for the way that Hank was perceived by readers. During the separation that followed, both characters were able to define themselves on their own terms, Jan as the leader of the Avengers and Hank as a scientific adviser to the West Coast branch. In the years since John Byrne reunited Hank and Jan during his “West Coast Avengers” run, the couple have been on-and-off-again nearly as often as the Wasp has changed outfits. What’s remained constant is that the years of history together provide a rich foundation for writers to build on.
2. Hawkeye And Mockingbird
Some relationships are safe and comfortable, others are tempestuous and unpredictable: the relationship of Clint Baron and Bobbi Morse, with its many ups and downs, was undoubtedly the latter variety. What Clint found in Bobbi was an equal, someone who accepted and loved him for his foibles, yet was always ready to tell him when he was out of line. It’s true to both characters that practically the first thing they did as a couple was to get married; at times their personalities mixed like oil and water, both unwilling to admit they were wrong, but it made their relationship consistently entertaining to follow.
When Mockingbird was killed in “Avengers West Coast” #100, Clint lost not only a lover, but a best friend and partner-in-crime. Mockingbird’s later return during the “Secret Invasion” event may have been yet another retcon of a comic book death, but having her around shows a side of Clint that’s seldom visible behind his bravado and bluster, which benefits both characters.
1. Scarlet Witch/Vision/Wonder Man
The Ross and Rachel of the Avengers, for many years the Vision was the Scarlet Witch’s “lobster” (well, he was red at least). Their relationship helped humanize the android Vision and allowed Wanda to emerge from her brother’s shadow. In time, this led to marriage and eventually children, and it seemed like the couple had proven the doubters wrong. Then came John Byrne’s run on “West Coast Avengers.” By stripping Vision of all his hard-earned humanity, Byrne effectively ended the relationship between the two characters — as the Vision told Wanda in typically blunt terms, the man she married simply didn’t exist anymore. While the Vision has regained some of his emotions in the years since, the two have yet to reconcile.
Complicating the issue is Wonder Man, who provided the brain patterns that initially brought the Vision to life. Several story lines in the comics have revolved around his feelings for Wanda, and the two dated for a time during Kurt Busiek’s run on the book. Whatever the nature of the family dynamic, perhaps all that’s certain is that the Scarlet Witch will continue to cast her spell on the Williams boys for years to come.
So, what do these picks tell us? That ladies dig size-changing scientists and Olympian Gods beat Asgardians when it comes to wooing teammates. Have we missed out any of your favourite pairings? Let us know in the comments section or on Facebook!
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