Though Marvel Comics is a world of superheroes, where the heroes beat the villains more often than not, that doesn’t mean everything is constantly perfect. That wouldn’t just be boring, it wouldn’t be relatable. Characters from the Marvel Universe have problems just like the people in our world do.
They come from broken homes where their parents ignored or verbally (sometimes physically) abused them. They get into relationships they shouldn’t, often leading to tragedy and heartbreak. For this list, we’re looking at ten of the most toxic relationships in the Marvel Universe. Not just romantic relationships, but relationships of all kind - parents and siblings aren’t free from getting called out either.
10 TONY STARK AND PEPPER POTTS
There’s no way this relationship is healthy. The MCU wrapped these two up in a neat little bow by sticking them together early on and only letting Tony’s work as a superhero get in the way of them being permanent. But the comic version is significantly more complex.
This two already share a weird dynamic because Tony is Pepper's boss, but to make things worse, she eventually marries Tony's bodyguard and close confidante Happy Hogan. It wasn’t until after Happy was killed by Spymaster that these two even started dating again, and this relationship never quite had the stability to be permanent.
9 SUE STORM AND NAMOR
This was weird from the start. By the time Namor comes up, Sue’s has been in a relationship with Reed for years, with the couple also being married. As the King of Atlantis, Namor is kind of a spoiled jerk who thinks he can take what (or who) he wants. To her credit, Sue rarely ever entertains any notion of actually being with Namor.
However, there is always that bit of tension between them. After all, Reed’s the smartest man in the world so sometimes his attention is more on his latest discovery than his wife, and Namor...well, he doesn’t exactly look like Fat Thor from Endgame.
8 NORMAN OSBORN AND HARRY OSBORN
Not every toxic relationship is romantic. It could be argued that both Osborns suffer from some manner of mental illness, but aside from being insensitive, that’s not what makes this relationship toxic.
Even when neither one of them has any Goblin serum running through their body Norman is constantly the worst to his son. Nothing Harry does is ever good enough. Norman is constantly placing pressure on the boy to live up to his family name, almost like Harry could build up another Oscorp with nothing more than pocket change and elbow grease.
7 QUICKSILVER AND SCARLET WITCH
It’s understandable how this relationship got this way, but that doesn’t make it any less weird. As mutants (or Inhumans) with powerful abilities, Pietro and Wanda spent years having nothing other than one another to rely on. They started out joining their father’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, then later joined the Avengers.
For so long they did everything together, and Quicksilver became overly attached to his twin sister. The Ultimate Universe even decided the two were sleeping together. Ugh, hopefully, that bit is retconned and never revisited.
6 BRIAN BANNER AND BRUCE BANNER
Like father, like son. It was this belief that drove Brian Banner to believe his father was a monster, and that if he had a child, he would be a monster as well. So when he mistakenly got his wife pregnant, Brian immediately saw the worst in his own child. As a result, he switched between ignoring and abusing his son, often while Bruce was doing little more than displaying his intelligence.
When these two are together, death and destruction are often close behind, as Brian would kill Bruce’s mother as a child and Bruce would later kill Brian as an adult. This relationship is so toxic when Bruce sees The One Below All (a manifestation of the devil) in the comics, the latter takes the form of Brian.
5 SPIDER-MAN AND BLACK CAT
This is always presented as the “sexy” little alternative to Peter Parker’s otherwise happy and domesticated home life. It is also the worst option possible. Neither of these two can stay with the other for long without fundamentally changing who they are. Sure, it’d be nice if the Black Cat stopped stealing, but she shouldn’t do it because her boyfriend told her to knock it off.
This relationship worked because of its taboo element. That’s why even in the main universe, Felicia’s first reaction to seeing Peter Parker unmasked was abject horror before demanding he put his mask back on.
4 MYSTIQUE AND ROGUE
This one isn’t thought of very frequently because it’s more glossed over these days, but in the past, it was toxic enough to send Captain Planet packing. Rogue’s powers activated when she was a young teen, with the mutant nearly killing her first crush. While on the run from her actions at home, she was taken in by Mystique...and promptly taught everything about being a supervillain.
Rogue spent no small amount of time as a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Even when she was with the X-Men, there was always a question of her loyalties whenever Mystique got too close.
3 WOLVERINE AND DAKEN
Wolverine has always been the best there is at what he does. While he was great serving as a mentor to people like Kitty Pryde or Jubilee...it seems he was better at being a father figure than an actual father. Logan learned he had a son named Daken, who happened to be a cold-blooded killer.
Wolverine never got a chance to reform him either, as Daken crossed the line once and wound up being drowned to death. Now that isn’t very nice. Daken’s hatred for his father continued long past Wolverine’s death, as the former dedicated himself to taking his father’s life once again once he discovered Logan was still alive.
2 PROFESSOR XAVIER AND LEGION
It’s amazing that, after taking in five teenage children and bringing them through adolescents, Professor Xavier proved to be such an awful father to Legion. Admittedly, Xavier wasn’t around for most of Haller’s time as a child, but what has he done since then?
Mostly, Legion is viewed as a problem to be solved or a weapon to be used. It’s amazing that Xavier, accomplished telepath that he is, hasn’t been able to help him. This is the same Xavier who defeated the Shadow King in his own realm. A mutant capable of locking memories away without a trace. When it comes to Legion, it seems like Xavier only ever makes a token attempt to foster a connection.
1 SCOTT SUMMERS AND MADELYNE PRYOR
This was probably the biggest misstep anyone ever made with Cyclops. Not long after Jean Grey was believed to die, Scott Summers met up with Madelyne Pryor, a young woman who bears a disturbing resemblance to Jean.
Initially, there’s no reasoning for this, it was just the way to write Cyclops out of the story. Later, when the original X-Factor began, Scott abandoned his wife to join up with his old friends...and see his old flame. Gross. This meant his relationship with Madelyne was a joke, and she only lasted until he found a way to get Jean back again.