It’s an age-old question: What makes a good fictional relationship? While you can point out a few specific characteristics (time, similar personalities, more time) that make a successful romance, we honestly can’t always put into words why one couple works over another. Sometimes, writers just get it right and at other times, they really don’t. In comics, writers are constantly trying to keep their stories fresh and new for readers. When you have a superpowered team that’s been around since the Second World War, sometimes that’s necessary. A great way to keep characters modern is to mix up their love lives. When a couple gets stale, writers can bring in a new romantic interest to keep up the drama. This frequently leads to rushed romances that lack depth.
Of course, not all failed comic relationships happen because readers are starved for drama. Some of the bizarre relationships in comics have been around for years. In Marvel, there are some relationships that make absolutely no sense yet have been canon for decades. We have fan devotion to thank for these. Sometimes, a couple becomes so ingrained in comic culture that readers aren’t apt to let them go — even if they really need to be. CBR is counting down twenty Marvel couples that should never have been created — both on and off screen. These comic and film relationships make absolutely no sense when you look beyond the flashy cover art. Some are popular, some are not, and some are up to public debate. If you’re a fan of any of these couples, understand that these are only opinions — not facts.
20. JEAN GREY AND WOLVERINE
This pairing has graced the cover of many X-Men issues and fan fiction websites. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s a relationship that makes any sense. Marvel introduced the Jean, Scott, and Logan triangle to create drama and that’s it. Writers weren’t really thinking about the long term consequences of Jean and Wolverine’s “relationship”.
Wolverine constantly harasses Jean and when Jean finally asked him if they wanted to try a real relationship, he turned her down, saying it could never work. As a reader, it’s impossible to keep up with these two because their romantic status is never clear. Are they secretly in love with each other? Or do they hate each other? Or is it a little of both? Let’s just call it eternally TBD.
19. ULTIMATE QUICKSILVER AND SCARLET WITCH
The various Ultimate series Marvel released during the 2000s were meant to reimagine classic characters and plots in the modern era. Some of the series were very successful, but others, like the Ultimates series, failed to earn praise due to a bizarre pairing. The couple we’re talking about here is Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.
Why writer Mark Millar decide to create this relationship is something we’ll never truly understand. All we do know is that it makes absolutely no sense. Although close, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are frequently at each other’s throats in modern comics — they’re siblings after all, but what goes on in this particular reality is completely uncalled for.
18. SPIDER-MAN AND SILK
From the start, Cindy Moon, aka Silk, was an interesting and complex character who didn’t need an unnecessary romance to get Marvel fans to like her. Of course, that’s exactly what writers did when they paired Silk with her fellow spider Peter Parker. Cindy has a similar origin story as Peter, which might be why Marvel wanted the two together. Still, that isn’t a good enough excuse for us.
In the comics, Cindy and Peter’s relationship lacks the development a good fictional romance should have. For readers, their relationship seems contingent on one thing: their powers. Without them, they don’t have much in common. They were rarely even pictured together out of costume. To no one’s disappointment, they didn’t stay together for long.
17. BLACK WIDOW AND HULK
This strange pairing is an on-screen favorite for a lot of MCU fans, so we’re treading lightly here. They definitely aren’t the worst couple on this list, they just also aren’t the best. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Black Widow’s romantic interests switch from Hawkeye to Hulk, which for a lot of viewers was a little jarring. Bruce and Natasha have some sweet moments, but it’s hard to think of their relationship as anything but a forced romance.
For a while, Natasha is the only female on the Avengers. Instead of building a meaningful relationship between Black Widow and one of her teammates, MCU writers use their single female character as a romantic plot point to appease as many fans as possible. That’s kind of messed up.
16. CAPTAIN AMERICA AND SHARON CARTER
There are fans out there for every pairing Marvel has ever invented and we don’t think it’s right to shame people for liking what they like. Still, something needs to be said about Captain America and Sharon Carter’s strange relationship. In the MCU, these characters have obvious on-screen chemistry, but their backstory is questionable.
From originally being an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent spying on Captain America, to being Peggy Carter’s (aka MCU Steve’s one-true-love) niece, nothing about Sharon makes her a good match for Captain America. The fact that the only time they kiss is after Steve learns Sharon is Peggy’s niece makes it seem as though their relationship has more to do with the first Carter than the second.
15. GREEN GOBLIN AND GWEN STACY
During the very controversial Amazing Spider-Man arc “Sins Past”, writer J. Michael Straczynski completely reworked Gwen Stacy’s classic origin story. Green Goblin was still her murderer… but, after this arc, he was also her lover.
Before her untimely demise, Gwen had a brief affair with Norman Osborn that resulted in the birth of twins: a boy and a girl. Many fans hated this arc, saying it was extremely out of character and completely unnecessary. Straczynski doesn’t even give readers a firm reason as to why Gwen decided to, quite literally, sleep with the enemy. As much as we can tell, Gwen and Norman’s strange relationship was a plot point designed for shock value and nothing else.
14. CYCLOPS AND MADELYNE PRYOR
What do you do after your girlfriend sacrifices herself on the moon to save the world from certain destruction? If you’re X-Men leader Cyclops, you a marry and have a child with a woman who looks exactly like your old flame. Cyclops has done some seriously questionable things in the past, but his relationship with Madelyne Pryor may just be the worst.
Besides it being super creepy that he falls for a clone of his perished girlfriend, he then goes on to treat Madelyne like garbage. The second Jean returns, Scott realizes that the only reason he was with Madelyne was because she looked like Jean. After he leaves her, Madelyne becomes the Goblin Queen and attacks New York. Cyclops probably should’ve just stayed single.
13. ICEMAN AND KITTY PRYDE
Both Iceman and Kitty Pryde have been in their fair share of relationships. Some of them became popular, well-written pairings and some of them… not so much. During an “off” period in Kitty and Colossus’ relationship, Kitty becomes the headmistress of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, where Iceman’s a long-standing professor.
Their weird relationship is centered upon the fact that they’re both in-between other relationships and are feeling a little lonely. Besides the huge age gap between Bobby and Kitty, they also just don’t have a lot in common. We think Marvel might have “encouraged” its writers to push Iceman and Kitty together to make the comics parallel the films. Sometimes, things are best left in only one form of media.
12. NAMOR AND SUSAN STORM
Invisible Woman and Mr. Fantastic are one of the most iconic couples in all of comics, which is why so many Marvel writers have tried to pull them apart in the past. In comics, nothing gold can stay, right? We’ve seen Sue Storm in relationships a few other men. Perhaps the most famous of those was her tryst with Namor.
Sue and Namor’s relationship goes way back, to the beginning of the Fantastic Four. See, before she even married Reed, Sue was already discontent with her workaholic lover. The mysterious mutant Namor offered an escape for Sue… but that’s about all he offered. Over the years, Namor has captured and assaulted Sue numerous times, yet for some reason their mutual attraction still reigns.
11. MULTIPLE MAN AND SIRYN
We’re not sure everyone sees it this way, but for us X-Factor reads like a tragedy. So many of the characters hit rock bottom in the series, including the fateful pairing of Multiple Man and Siryn. Before we say anything else, we need to make something clear: these two should have never started a relationship. They are terrible for one another. They both can be individually emotionally volatile, so when combined they’re a disaster.
During their relationship, Jamie cheats on Siryn multiple times. Though she wants to leave him, once she discovers she’s pregnant, she’s willing to stay. When Siryn gives birth, Jamie absorbs the baby, revealing that the child was a dupe. After that, Theresa decides she’s done dating a liar. Good call, Theresa.
10. NICO MINORU AND VICTOR MANCHA
With a group of hormonal, superpowered runaways, you’re bound to get some strange romantic pairings. In the Marvel comic series Runaways, many of the characters form brief intimate relationships during their time away from home. A lot of the time, having a relationship helps the characters deal with being alone, away from home. This is especially true in the case of Nico Minoru and Victor Mancha.
Very soon after Gert’s passing, Nico and Victor began unofficially dating as a way to cope with the tragedy. From the beginning, Nico and Victor’s relationship felt pretty fake. Although they were attracted to each other, it was always clear that the only thing keeping them together was their friend’s death. Luckily for us, they didn’t last too long.
9. CYCLOPS AND EMMA FROST
For years, Cyclops and Jean Grey were the X-Couple… until Emma Frost came along in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men series. Dissatisfied with his boring marriage, Scott began a psychic affair with Emma. Of course, Scott’s wife was an omega-level telepath, so this “secret” affair didn’t last long. At the end of the series, Jean passes and, after some urging, Cyclops starts a decade-long relationship with Emma.
Before Emma Frost became headmistress of the Xavier Institute, she was a self-proclaimed wicked woman. She isn’t the kind of person you’d want in charge of a bunch of 12-year olds. Scott falling for her feels less like a meaningful relationship and more like clickbait for readers. X-Men golden boy falls for evil villainess. It’s a little cliche.
8. KITTY PRYDE AND COLOSSUS
So many Marvel writers have tried to make Kitty Pryde and Colossus’ relationship work, but honestly none of them have succeeded. Since they first appeared on panel together, Kitty and Colossus’ romantic tension has been nothing but creepy and awkward.
Kitty was only a girl when she began to develop feelings for the much older Peter. Over the years, her crush developed into a “real” love, even though her dedication to the Russian mutant frequently wanes. They’ve both been happier in other relationships, with other people. Sometimes, it seems like they only try to stay together because they’ve been an item for so long. Thankfully, in the recent X-Men Gold series, Kitty finally broke off from Peter for good (hopefully).
7. SCARLET WITCH AND VISION
On screen, Scarlet Witch and Vision’s relationship looks surprisingly healthy. In the comics, however, it’s a another story. Comic Wanda and Vision get married, and, for a little while, they’re happy. It isn’t until the differences between android and human life become glaringly obvious that their relationship begins to suffer.
In Tom King’s Vision series, we get a close-up look at the less-than-idyllic side of Wanda and Vision’s relationship. Vision’s inability to process human emotions and give Wanda the children she wants creates a palpable distance in their relationship. Their initial attraction just isn’t enough to keep their romance afloat. Their love story ends in divorce, which for them, was the best case scenario.
6. BETTY ROSS AND HULK
Any relationship with Bruce Banner, aka The Hulk, is going to be a difficult one. Any petty marital spat becomes a confrontation with the Big Green Guy. Surprisingly, Bruce did have a long term girlfriend for years: Betty Ross. Why they stayed together for so long is a mystery. They certainly didn’t have the most idyllic romance story.
Hulk was constantly making life terrible for Betty. From terrorizing her to destroying her childhood home during their wedding ceremony, Bruce wasn’t exactly a quality partner. Bruce did try (for the most part) to give Betty a decent life, but it never worked out. It probably would’ve been better for both of them if they had never started dating in the first place.
5. NIGHTCRAWLER AND RACHEL GREY
Modern Marvel doesn’t usually shy away from showing gay relationships, which is why Nightcrawler and Rachel Grey’s relationship in X-Men Gold is odd. Kurt and Rachel aren’t horrible together, but we were definitely thinking Rachel’s next partner would be a girl after all the hints writer Chris Claremont gave us in his issues of Uncanny X-Men. She clearly had a thing for Kitty and a lot of fans were hoping to see an eventual relationship come out of their casual flirting.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be. Writer Marc Guggenheim randomly partnered Kurt with Rachel, even though there wasn’t any sort of foundation for their relationship. Since their first kiss, it’s been nothing but cringe-worthy. We’re still hoping Rachel eventually realizes who she should be with.
4. JOHNNY STORM AND MEDUSA
To some degree, Johnny Storm and Medusa’s relationship does make sense. The Inhumans have known the Fantastic Four for years and Medusa’s sister, Crystal, once dated Johnny. Unlike a lot of couples on this list, Medusa and Johnny would have had time to create a meaningful relationship. The thing is, they don’t.
Medusa and Johnny begin their relationship mostly because they’re lonely. Without Black Bolt, Medusa feels lost for the first time in her life. Without Sue and Reed, Johnny doesn’t know who to turn to. Their relationship is random and their personalities don’t match. Every scene with them feels forced and awkward because they’re there for themselves and not for each other. It’s the kind of relationship that should have ended before it started.
3. TOAD AND HUSK
Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men series from 2013 gave us a lot of good things. We get to see Headmasters Wolverine and Kitty Pryde bring Xavier’s school into the 21st century with a wicked cool makeover. Minor characters like Rockslide Anole get more panel-time. It’s such a great series that we almost forget about that weird thing between Toad and Husk — almost, but not quite.
Throughout the series, ex-Brotherhood mutant Toad and X-Men member Husk strike up a romantic relationship. Aaron doesn’t give much build-up, which is why right off the bat things feel weird. As it turns out, Husk’s secondary mutation of personality molting was the only thing keeping them together. After another molt, Husk lost her memories and the relationship ended.
2. THOR AND JANE FOSTER
Thor and Jane Foster have been a couple for years, both on and off-screen. Sometimes, they seem like the perfect couple, until you really start to consider the inconsistencies in their relationship. Like Scarlet Witch and Vision, Thor and Jane are just a little too removed from one another to work as a couple. Thor is a god from Asgard and Jane is a human doctor from Earth. From the get-go, they should have realized things weren’t going to work out.
The only time their relationship begins to make sense is after Jane takes over the title of Thor. They kiss seconds before Jane sacrifices the Mjolnir to save Asgardia and, for the first time in their relationship, they’re on an even playing field.
1. ROGUE AND MAGNETO
When Rogue finds herself powerless and lost, she winds up in the Savage Land, in the arms of her once enemy Magneto. This arc happened in the ‘90s, back when a lot of X-Men characters were going through serious identity changes. Writers were trying to shake up the status quo and adding illicit romances did the trick. Like some of the other couples on the list, we’re fairly certain it was more of a publicity stunt than an attempt to make a quality relationship.
Rogue’s budding relationship with Magneto didn’t last very long, but even in its short lifespan, it upset a lot of readers. Magneto was the X-Men’s biggest villain. Rogue’s attraction to him made her character look unnecessarily naive.
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