For 10 years the Marvel Cinematic Universe has introduced us to a whole world of heroes, villains, allies and adventures. As comic book fans, it’s exciting to see our favorites finally brought to life on the big screen. However, what really keeps us coming back is the human lives behind Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. A huge part of that is the rooting interest in the universe’s best couples. Through 18 movies and nine TV shows we’ve gotten to watch the journey of all sort of pairs.
After all the time and money fans have invested in the MCU, these duos feel like old friends. Some are unforgettable, while others we wish we could forget seeing. It’s not always the ones that make instant impressions that turn out to be the best. Usually the ones that grow over several seasons of a series, or a few movies are more emotionally fulfilling for viewers. Though it’s difficult to compare a relationship that has a weekly series to develop to one that only stretches through one or two movies, we’re doing it anyway. These are all the couples of the MCU ranked from worst to best. Spoiler alert, number one is a no brainer.
31 MEDUSA AND BLACK BOLT - INHUMANS
When Marvel Studios first announced its Phase Two projects, there was an Inhumans movie included on the list. However, once they were introduced on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the film was put on hold. S.H.I.E.L.D. did a pretty good job of establishing Terrigenesis and explaining their history on Earth, so what would the movie explore. Ultimately, the studio decided to bring the story of the Inhuman royal family to television.
One of the major components of Inhumans was the relationship between King Black Bolt and Queen Medusa. They were childhood sweethearts who connected despite his inability to speak. Unfortunately, the adventure of the show kept them separated for most of the early episodes, the poor quality of the series’ storyline and the lack of chemistry between Serinda Swan and Anson Mount made them hard to care about, let alone root for.
30 NATASHA AND BRUCE - AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
The controversial direction of Natasha’s story in Age of Ultron has been rehashed to death, so we don’t need to get into it again here. What is worth talking about is the completely out of nowhere, forced romance between her and Bruce. The characters had only interacted in The Avengers, and she was made to seem much closer with Clint and Steve, so where did this new connection to Bruce come from?
It didn’t help matters that they connected the relationship to the previously mentioned controversial Black Widow plot. It wasn’t one of Joss Whedon’s best choices. The romance ended just as fast as it started, so even if they wanted to get interested fans were out of luck. Perhaps it comes up again in Infinity War, but honestly let’s hope we’re done with that silly chapter in both their lives.
29 BETTY AND BRUCE - THE INCREDIBLE HULK
As long as fans have known Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk in comics and TV, they’ve been told that Betty Ross is the love of his life. It’s only natural she would play an important role in his origin story. In the movie when they reunite, it’s this big romantic moment with music swelling, and obviously it’s in the rain.
There’s just one problem, they both seem like their lives are better off without one another. Betty has moved on with a new stable boyfriend, and Bruce has learned to keep himself on a more even emotional keel. It’s only when they get back together does everything hit the fan. Add in the fact that she never showed up again after he became a public figure and maybe they aren’t the destined couple we were told they were.
28 SKYE AND WARD - AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
The minute Skye joined Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D. team, Ward began showing an interest in her. Over time that interest became increasingly unhealthy. They’re pretty much the definition of toxic relationship. And let’s not even get into his time as an evil alien Inhuman God who turned her against everyone she loved, and caused her boyfriend to sacrifice himself to save the world. In the real world, nothing about them worked, as he was always corrupted by his allegiance to HYDRA.
However in the Framework, Daisy got to see the Ward he might have been without HYDRA’s influence. He was a good agent who worked in the underground resistance against evil Fitz and Aida. He was integral in starting the rebellion against HYDRA. It was nice for fans to finally see the couple they had been rooting for since season one.
27 TRISH AND WILL - JESSICA JONES
While it’s not a prerequisite for MCU couples to start off in unhealthy ways, it certainly happens a lot. Considering that they met when Kilgrave sent him to kill her, Jessica Jones’ Trish Walker and Will Simpson were never going to be more than a fun hook up, but once things went bad, they went downhill fast.
After being drawn into the hunt for Kilgrave and getting injured in an explosion, Simpson went back on experimental military drugs that made him dangerously unstable. He was last seen being taken away by IGH after Trish and Jessica fought him in self defense. It’s still unclear if he’ll reappear in the second season as Nuke, but it’s safe to say he and Trish were never meant for a happily ever after.
26 BILLY AND DINAH - THE PUNISHER
In the world of The Punisher no one really has a completely happy relationship, but the worst pair on the series may be Billy Russo and Dinah Madani. Though he’s rich, handsome and a veteran, it becomes clear pretty quickly that this is all a front that Billy puts on to hide his true sociopathic nature. Unfortunately for FBI Agent Madani, she figures this out too late. Though, to be fair it’s not like she’s in that great of a place herself.
We’re shown repeatedly, in very graphic scenes, that their intimate life is not the problem. Other than Billy being a murderous psychopath, they have serious trust issues. Madani only starts dating Billy to get information on her case and he just wants to stay ahead of the investigation. It’s impossible to root for a couple when they’re so unlikeable and their interactions are constantly awkward and uncomfortable.
25 PETER PARKER AND LIZ - SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
Peter Parker’s major love interests have always come down to two women; Mary Jane Watson and Gwen Stacy. The previous films had mined every part of these relationships, so it was a pleasant surprise to see Spider-Man: Homecoming examine Peter’s love life before all that happened. Audiences got to see a teenage Peter fall in love for the first time with classmate Liz.
The problem with being so knowledgeable about a character’s life is that you know who’s important and who’s not. And we all knew right from the start that Liz was a one off romance for Peter. This became even more obvious when it was revealed that her father was the bad guy. There was no real motivation for viewers to get invested in their relationship, as it was clearly temporary.
24 DAISY AND LINCOLN - AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
In her short time with S.H.I.E.L.D., Daisy Johnson has been through a lot. Perhaps the most traumatizing was finding out she was an Inhuman with superpowers. When she left the team to join her mother and figure out how to control these new abilities, she met Lincoln. He had already been through a lot of what she was feeling and helped her with the transition.
When he realized Jiaying was evil and his world fell apart, Daisy was there to return the favor. It was only a matter of time before they became romantically involved. Sadly, Lincoln never seemed like more than a rebound to her, and what’s worse is he always sort of knew that. Her indifference transferred through the screen and as much as we wanted them to work, we also knew they weren’t making it long term.
23 SCOTT AND HOPE - ANT-MAN
As fun and smart as he is, Scott Lang wasn’t exactly a catch when Hope Van Dyne first met him. He was a thief, fresh out of prison, and it didn’t take him long to start stealing again. Once he began training as Ant-Man she got to know the real Scott beneath the jokester exterior, and he saw the sad daughter beneath the angry outer shell.
After they were done saving the day, we were led to believe they were headed toward a romantic relationship. The trailers for Ant-Man and the Wasp make it seem like things might be rocky between the two following Scott’s actions in Civil War. We haven’t seen enough to know what’s in store for this duo, but so far it seems like they are the only two who could ever really understand one another.
22 LUKE AND MISTY - LUKE CAGE
From the minute he exploded into the MCU in Jessica Jones, Luke Cage has caught the attention of the universe’s coolest women. One of those being Misty Knight. They met while the police detective was undercover at Cottonmouth’s club and Luke was working as a bartender. It didn’t take long for the two to hook up.
While things have never gone further than that one night, the two have remained close friends, with Misty helping Luke go after Cottonmouth, Diamondback, Mariah and even The Hand. Only a real friend will help you fight an ancient, deadly ninja cult. The comics tell us that Misty is supposed to end up with Danny, but this version is way too good for him and is clearly still carrying a small torch for Luke. An argument could be made that she’s actually better for Luke than Claire.
21 MAY AND ANDREW - AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Melinda May is an enigma. The list of people who’ve gotten into her head numbers at two. One of them is her ex-husband Andrew Garmer. He’s a psychologist who helps Inhumans deal with the transition and councils agents after tough missions. Considering her difficult past, it makes sense that May would gravitate toward someone who understands the psychological rigors of her job.
Unfortunately, Andrew was also an Inhuman named Lash. He was killing other Inhumans, when Andrew turned himself in, having one last sad goodbye with May before he permanently turned into Lash. In the end, he saved both Daisy and Jemma, so there was still a piece of Andrew inside him. The loss was devastating for May, but deep down we all know she’s really married to the job and would never be able to fully commit to him.
20 MATT AND CLAIRE - DAREDEVIL
If there were an Olympics in being a bad partner, Matt Murdock would win the gold. He is so completely invested in being the Devil of Hell's Kitchen and protecting his city, it consumes him. There’s not room for anything else in his life. As such, his relationships all fail miserably. We got our first glimpse at his issues when he started seeing nurse Claire Temple.
They met when she patched him up after one of his fights and flirting quickly led to more. She tried to be supportive, but it was clear where his allegiances would always lie. Looking back, neither was very invested in their so-called relationship, and they’ve been able to be much better friends than lovers. The best thing to come from their romance was that it made Rosario Dawson’s Claire an integral part of the MCU.
19 MATT AND KAREN - DAREDEVIL
Based on the mistakes he made with Claire and Elektra, Matt decided he would try and be a normal guy in a normal relationship. He and Karen Page went out on a date, acted like regular people and really enjoyed it. However, at the end of the day he will never be able to stand by and not help when he knows he can.
In hindsight it was a little unfair of Karen to expect Matt to give up such an important part of his life. He has always been non-judgemental of her past, so she could have been more understanding of his. As much as they may have wanted it to happen, they both realized his work as Daredevil was more important than any burgeoning feelings they had for each other.
18 JESSICA AND LUKE - JESSICA JONES
Luke began his trip through the lives of the women of Netflix’s Marvel Universe with Jessica Jones. The pair met as two damaged souls needing comfort. The combination of their superpowers meant that neither had to hold back for a change and beds were broken. Considering how emotionally closed off they both were, things weren’t headed for a happy place.
The relationship took a drastic turn when Jessica realized Luke’s wife was the woman she killed while under Kilgrave’s control. Then it got even worse when she had to shoot him to stop him from attacking her while being mind controlled. Not a great start. Some fans are still holding out hope that these two may find their way back to each other like their comic book counterparts.
17 MATT AND ELEKTRA - DAREDEVIL
As it turns out, all Matt’s relationship issues can be traced back to his first serious love Elektra. She had her own long list of personality problems, so the two of them together wasn’t the best mix. When they were younger she brought out all his darkest impulses. However, once they were a little older and wiser they thought they could make things work.
Unfortunately, The Hand showed up to kidnap Elektra for an ancient prophecy and being the hero he was, Matt was determined to protect her. Sadly, she ended up dying in his arms, but this being a comic book show she returned from the dead as the evil warrior The Hand wanted her to be. He sacrificed himself saving the city and they died together, meaning they were always destined for a tragic end. Of course, he’s not really dead, so...
16 NICO AND KAROLINA - RUNAWAYS
When you’re a teenager every change is life or death. Imagine all of that emotional turmoil coupled with the revelation that your parents are evil and you have superpowers. For Runaways’ Karolina, she must balance her discovery with her new romantic feelings for her friend Nico. Questioning her sexuality is hard enough without being on the run from her alien father.
Even though she’s still reeling from her sister’s death and the realization that her mom has magic powers, Nico is also questioning herself and ultimately feels the same about Karolina. Though we’ve just gotten to know these two, their strong supportive friendship is a nice balance to the growing list of unhealthy relationships that make up the universe. Perhaps the innocence of youth means they haven’t developed the emotional hang ups of adults.
15 DANNY AND COLLEEN - IRON FIST
There are a lot of problems in Iron Fist, however one of the few bright spots is in Danny and Colleen’s love story. Unlike other aspects of the show, it seems to develop naturally over time and evolves based on their experiences. It’s by no means perfect, but it's one of the most adult relationships among the Netflix shows.
It begins with a hint of young love, as Danny is still very inexperienced since he’s basically been a monk his whole life. When he discovers Colleen’s betrayal, he’s heartbroken, but is still able to forgive her and start over. His forgiveness grants her the strength to choose a path away from The Hand. It’s all very grown up and responsible, something we don’t get a lot of in The Defenders series.
14 GERT AND CHASE - RUNAWAYS
The nerdy girl and the popular jock is a tale as old as time. Though, none of those other romances had to deal with a crazy, abusive father and a telepathic dinosaur. What makes Runaways’ Gert and Chase so adorable to watch, is that it’s clear from the very beginning how much they like one another, but they can’t seem to get out of their own way.
As the stakes become higher and things get more dangerous, their walls come down and they begin to see how the other really feels about them. It unravels organically in a very teenage way. It will be interesting to see where things go in season two, but we have to hope the writers don't take them backwards and make viewers start are all over again.
13 COULSON AND ROSALIND - AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
When we first met Phil Coulson in Iron Man, it was clear that his work was the biggest part of his life. Working with Nick Fury and The Avengers was obviously all consuming. Once he became Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. he had to make the hard sacrifices and choices that very few people would ever understand. Cue Rosalind Price, the head of the ATCU, a group hunting Inhumans.
Though they start as adversaries, they very quickly advance to flirting, then become involved. What makes them so tragic is that neither has very many people who they can talk to about the stress of their responsibilities. The fact that Coulson finally found an equal he could confide in, just to have her die in his arms is another heartbreaking what if in his life.
12 FRANK AND KAREN - THE PUNISHER
Frank Castle is a broken man following the death of his family. As The Punisher opens he believes he’s finally tracked down all the culprits and puts down his guns to try and find some semblance of normal. Of course, guys like him never get to just be normal and soon enough he’s drawn into another conspiracy that brings him back into the life of reporter Karen Page.
With her own past demons, Frank is the only person who Karen really shows her authentic self. They have an understanding that they could never reach with anyone else. It remains to be seen whether Frank can ever really move on from his wife and fall in love again, but the way he rushes into danger to save Karen says that if he were going to try, she might be the only one he could ever see himself with.
11 THOR AND JANE - THOR
It’s common knowledge that long distance relationships don’t work. That becomes even more true when the couple lives on different planets. At the end of Thor, Jane was left on Earth while Thor had to restore order to the nine realms. In Thor: The Dark World we find out that she’s been heartbroken and depressed most of the time they’ve been apart. It’s not like she can date again, who can compete with the God of Thunder?
He finally sticks around and they try to make it work, but once again the distance between their jobs keeps them separated and they break up for good. If we’re being honest, despite their long standing comic book relationship, the movie couple always felt temporary and we could never be fully invested in them.
10 PETER QUILL AND GAMORA - GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
When we first meet Peter Quill he’s not exactly boyfriend material. He’s a ravager, who has a girl whose name he can’t remember on his ship. Though she has good intentions, Gamora is still a living weapon who has been working for her adopted father Thanos and Ronan the Accuser. Basically, they’ve got a lot to work through.
Once they team up with the rest of the Guardians, it’s obvious they make a good team and share a mutual attraction. In Vol. 2 they have taken on the roles as mom and dad to the weird little family of theirs. The way they keep risking everything to save one another makes it clear to everyone they belong together. Now if only they would realize it.
9 MACK AND YO-YO - AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
Through all the weirdness the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents have had to deal with, Mack has been the constant voice of reason and normal. He was initially very resistant to the idea of Inhumans, so it came as a surprise when he fell in love with newcomer Yo-Yo. Despite her superpowers Yo-Yo is perfect for Mack, as she also recognizes the absurdity of the lives they live.
When Mack stayed behind in the Framework to be with his daughter Hope, Yo-Yo didn't hesitate to go inside after him. Once they were trapped in the future on a hellish space station, Mack risked his own trip home to save her. It’s not just the friendship their love is based on that makes them fun to watch, it’s that viewers can 100% believe they will do anything for one another. It may be the MCU’s most entertaining love story.
8 PEGGY AND DANIEL - AGENT CARTER
For Peggy Carter her heart pretty much stopped the day Steve’s plane crashed into the ocean. Once the war ended, she went back to life as a secretary, no longer treated as the expert spy she was. Her only ally at the SSR was disabled agent Daniel Sousa. While he was interested in Peggy from the start, it was understandably hard for him to get past her being Captain America’s girlfriend.
In season two, the roles reversed, as Daniel now had a girlfriend and Peggy was the third wheel. His girlfriend left when she realized he wasn’t over Peggy. By the end of the season the two had finally admitted their feelings for each other and kissed, though the series’ cancellation means we’ll never know for sure if Daniel was the husband Peggy says Cap saved in The Winter Soldier.
7 LUKE AND CLAIRE - LUKE CAGE
So much of Luke Cage’s time in the MCU has been spent mourning his dead wife, that he could never really move on. Then he went on a journey to find out the truth about his past and discovered that his wife had secrets that didn’t make her as innocent as he presumed. Finding this closure made it possible for him to finally open himself up to new possibilities.
The minute Claire met Luke, there was instant chemistry that practically burned up the screen. When he was finally freed from prison, they reunited in The Defenders and it seemed like they were going to be happy together for awhile. In the TV world, Claire is a much better fit for Luke than Jessica, so it will be interesting to see if they let their relationship play out organically.
6 BOBBI AND LANCE - AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
Lance Hunter was never the textbook agent. He started out as a mercenary who stuck around out of loyalty to Coulson and to be closer to his ex-wife Bobbi. The thing about Bobbi and Lance is that for all their arguing, they totally belong together.
They’ve finally realized that they will never find anyone else who understands why they do the work they do, or how to do it as good as them. They are the definition of “can’t live with them, can’t live without them,” but it’s completely healthy and full of love. The last time we saw them they had left S.H.I.E.L.D. to protect everyone and were off helping people. With S.H.I.E.L.D. now officially out in the cold, it’s time for Bobbi and Hunter to rejoin the team. Fans miss their complicated, yet happy love story.
5 TONY AND PEPPER - IRON MAN
Tony isn’t a great boyfriend. He’s slept with half the women in the world, is obsessed with building new Iron Man suits and is constantly leaving to save the world. Maybe he just has a severe case of Peter Pan syndrome and needed Pepper to help him mature. Even when he’s at his most ridiculous, she keeps him grounded and in touch with the real world.
The argument could be made that she shouldn’t have to work that hard in her romantic relationship, but Pepper knows that Tony would do anything for her. She also knows that he would be absolutely lost without her and frankly, wouldn’t be able to be Iron Man. As the first couple that fans got to root for, Tony and Pepper will always hold a special place in the MCU.
4 T’CHALLA AND NAKIA - BLACK PANTHER
As the newly crowned King of Wakanda, T’Challa has a lot on his plate. He has to immediately make his mark on the country, while figuring out to replace a beloved leader. One of the few people in his life who just lets him be himself is his ex Nakia. Yes, she has ideas that she wants him to hear, but she is always honest with him and has his back no matter what.
T’Challa’s first act upon returning to Africa is to rescue Nakia from a mission she’s on, because he wants her there to see him become king. When he gets his throne back from Killmonger she doesn’t want to be Queen, because she wants to go out in the world and help people. We all know their story is just getting started, but they’re already one of the franchise’s most grown up, real world couples.
3 COULSON AND MAY - AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
For the MCU’s most ride or die team, look no further than Melinda May and Phil Coulson. While not an official couple, we all know what they mean to one another. This is a duo who would literally walk through fire for each other. When Fury gave Coulson his own team, his first stop was May, because he knew he needed someone he could trust to have his back.
Later when she was kidnapped by Radcliffe he went to the ends of the Earth to find her and bring her back. They haven’t quite had time to open that bottle yet, but at some point it’s going to happen and they will finally be able to admit how they really feel about each other. Due to the amazing performances and chemistry of Clark Gregg and Ming-Na Wen, these two have become one of the MCU’s greatest love stories.
2 STEVE AND PEGGY - CAPTAIN AMERICA
He’s such a heroic figure, it’s easy to forget how tragic Steve Rogers’ story actually is. Just when he finally had the life he always wanted as a soldier, and a woman he truly loved he had to give it all up to save the world. When he wakes up, it doesn’t take him long to realize all that he’s lost. Everyone he’s ever known and cared about is either dead or very old, including his one true love Peggy Carter.
As we saw on Agent Carter, Peggy didn’t recover from Steve’s death very well either. It was a long time before she even considered having feeling for someone else. Though they lived in different times, they were experiencing the same emotions and deep heartache. The missed opportunity of their great romance is one of the saddest arcs of the whole franchise. It’s also something that still haunts Steve.
1 FITZ AND SIMMONS - AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
Every single Marvel fan knows there’s no greater love story than that of Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons. It’s been clear since day one that they’re meant to be together. For fans it’s been fun to track the evolution of their relationship over Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s five seasons. Everyone calls them FitzSimmons because they are literally two halves of the same whole. Their love has survived every crazy adventure S.H.I.E.L.D. has thrown at it.
Trapped at the bottom of the ocean, marooned on another planet, crazy obsessed robot, evil personality in a virtual world, sent into a future controlled by Kree. Nothing keeps FitzSimmons apart. They have the kind of all-encompassing epic love that everyone, no matter who they are, wishes for. In the entirety of the MCU, there is no better or stronger couple than FitzSimmons.