Ah, love. It makes the world go around, doesn’t it? Romance is one of the most frequently used story elements in all of entertainment, and, of course, comic books are no exception. Plenty of comic book relationships have been successful, and eventually become iconic pairs such as Superman and Lois Lane, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, and Reed and Sue Richards. However, in comic books, drama, tension and conflict sells. There’s an argument to be made that fans often tune in more often when the status quo changes. So, more often than not, relationships fall apart. Characters are ripped away from their loved ones, through various circumstances, and paired with new ones. More often than not, these break-ups outrage fans -- practically no one wanted Marvel to split up Peter Parker and Mary Jane, but the company separated the two beloved characters in order to shake things up.
To be fair, there are plenty of times that writers ended romantic relationships between characters and fans subsequently approved of the decision. Nobody wanted to see the relationship between Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch continue, and, thankfully, Marvel dropped it. All in all, there have been plenty of break-ups in comic books, and some have pleased fans while others have broken the readers’ hearts. We’ve taken the liberty or ranking some of the best, and worst, comic book break-ups. In other words, we’ve taken a look at some of those relationships that fans wanted to work out and others romances that fans are glad didn’t pan out.
20 WISH THEY WORKED OUT: BATMAN & CATWOMAN
Man, people really wanted the Bat and the Cat to get married. When Batman #50 didn’t deliver the wedding fans were hoping for, Bat-fans practically rioted, and they had the right to be at least a little upset. For decades, Batman and Catwoman, or Selina Kyle, have had one of the more unconventional relationships in all of comics. In Tom King’s run on Batman, the writer fleshed out their relationship, which led to the build-up to the marriage.
Ultimately, Selina stood Bruce up on their wedding day because she knew that their union would spell the end of Batman. It’s likely that the Bruce and Selina will eventually get married, but Batman #50 stung when it didn’t deliver a happy ending.
19 GLAD THEY SPLIT: HANK PYM & JANET VAN DYNE
Most contiunites prefer to ignore the unhealthy aspects of the marriage between Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne. Ant-Man & The Wasp paints them as a happy couple but, in the comics, that hasn’t always been the case. Most infamously, Hank attacks his wife during a heated argument. In the Ultimate Universe, Hank’s treatment of Janet is even more vicious.
Thankfully, Janet eventually left her husband. Hank has experienced quite a tragic fall as a hero, and losing his wife is one of the more notable consequences of Pym’s devolution. Of all the couples on this list, there are fewer pairs that are more dysfunctional.
18 WISH THEY WORKED OUT: BLACK PANTHER & STORM
Talk about a power couple. On one hand, you have T’Challa, the Black Panther and the ruler of Wakanda. Meanwhile, Storm, or Ororo Munroe, is a legendary X-Man and an African goddess. Ororo and T’Challa were childhood sweethearts, and their union was a model of a healthy, successful relationship. The marriage between the two spanned six years, but, when Avengers vs. X-Men pit them against each other, their love couldn’t handle the strain.
In recent years, T’Challa and Ororo have been friendly to each other, so it’s possible that they’ll get back together one day. Until then, fans will be deprived of one of the most impactful romances in comic book history.
17 GLAD THEY SPLIT: NIGHTWING & STARFIRE
In theory, there is at least one major challenger to Barbara’s role as Dick Grayson’s soulmate, and her name is Starfire, or Koriand’r. Some fans feel that Kory and Dick belong together because their relationship lasted a long time and was a huge part of the classic '80s Teen Titans run. But, upon looking a little deeper, it’s clear that these two characters aren’t meant to be together. Dick didn’t love Kory as much as she loved him. So, it’s not fair to Starfire to give more love than she gets.
Perhaps the most indicative sign that Starfire and Dick don’t belong together is that, on the eve of their wedding, Nightwing was with Barbara Gordon. Clearly, Dick knows who he wants to be with.
16 WISH THEY WORKED OUT: HARLEY QUINN & POISON IVY
It’s a shame that Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy never really seem to get their relationship off the ground. More often than not, their connection is little more than a teased romance. Their relationship is unconventional in a number of ways. For example, it’s non-monogamous, which is fairly rare for a connection between two main characters in comics.
Through the years, fans have fallen in love with this relationship for its progressiveness and the characters’ open fliration with one another. While the two characters got married in the Injustice 2 series, the love still hasn’t quite realized its full potential.
15 GLAD THEY SPLIT: GREEN GOBLIN & GWEN STACY
It’s hard to believe that the Green Goblin and Gwen Stacy had a romantic relationship, but they did. In the “Sins Past” storyline, writer J. Michael Straczynski revealed that Norman Osborn and Gwen had an affair, while Stacy was dating Peter Parker, that led to the birth of twins. Gwen refused to give Norman custody of the kids, which made him so angry that he ended her existence (which, originally, happened in the legendary Amazing Spider-Man #121.)
This whole affair is surrounded by controversy, and it arguably cheapened the legacy of Peter’s relationship with Gwen. Fans should should hope that Marvel never revisits this romance.
14 WISH THEY WORKED OUT: BATWOMAN & RENEE MONTOYA
Like many fan-favorite comic book romances, these two characters are two opposing forces. Renee Montoya is a by-the-books cop while Kate Kane is a vigilitate with a military background. On paper, they should be enemies. Instead, they find a strong connection despite their differences.
For a time, the few similarities between the two allowed their relationship to thrive; both are strong-willed women that want to make the world a better place. Their independence and difficulty relying on others ultimately drove them apart, but their love was one of the better additions to the DC Universe in the mid-'00s. There’s a good chance Kate and Renee will end up together anyway, but nothing is guaranteed.
13 GLAD THEY SPLIT: DAREDEVIL & ELEKTRA
Opposites attract, which may be why Daredevil and Elektra continue to gravitate towards each other. Daredevil is a superhero and a man that fights for justice while Elektra is one of the most dangerous characters in the Marvel Universe. In recent years, their fiery love has been all but extinguished in the comic books and Daredevil should consider himself lucky that this relationship has flamed out.
Elektra always manipulates Matt Murdock -- usually, her goal is to unleash Matt’s dark side at the expense of his heroic self. To Elektra, Matt Murdock’s feelings are pieces on a game board -- she plays with him over and over again. Needless to say, Daredevil is better off without Elektra leading him astray.
12 WISH THEY WORKED OUT: NIGHTWING & ORACLE
Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon are one of those couples that seem like they’re supposed to be together. They’re two of the most famous members of the Bat-Family, and the two of them have been connected, in some way, for what feels like forever. Their romantic relationship has been on again, off again for many years but their closeness transcends typical love -- no matter what, they’ll always be close friends that know each other better than anyone.
That being said, many fans are still hoping that, in the end, Dick and Barbara will end up together. DC Rebirth has hinted at the romance between the two, so fans likely just need to be patient.
11 GLAD THEY SPLIT: JEAN GREY & SCOTT SUMMERS
It feels weird to put this relationship on this list. The relationship between Scott and Jean could fall into either category -- many fans wanted it to work out while others were glad the two heroes didn’t end up together. Scott and Jean fell in love, but the “Dark Phoenix Saga” and Jean’s multiple trips to the afterlife took a heavy toll on Scott, who tried to find love with multiple other partners. Now, Jean has come back to life again, but the Scott Summers she knew is gone.
With the time-displaced X-Men heading back to the past, maybe the adult version of Cyclops will find his way back to Jean. But, by now, Jean and Scott have proven that they don’t belong together.
10 WISH THEY WORKED OUT: VISION & SCARLET WITCH
The Vision and Scarlet Witch have one of the most complex relationships in Marvel’s history, but they also have one of the company’s most popular romances. Wanda Maximoff joined the Avengers after initially serving in Magento’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Only three years later, Ultron created vision, who chose to become a hero rather than follow his creator’s villainous plan.
With somewhat similar backstories, it’s only fitting that Vision and Wanda forged a connection. The two married and had children, but ran into a plethora of problems that derailed the relationship. The MCU has brought this relationship back to life, which has polarized many fans, but it may be for naught, as both Scarlet Witch and Vision were among the casualties in Infinity War.
9 GLAD THEY SPLIT: BATMAN & BLACK CANARY
The relationship between Batman and the Black Canary has rarely advanced beyond the stage of a teased romance but, when it has, the results aren’t pretty. Frank Miller’s All-Star Batman & Robin took an... unconventional approach to the Dark Knight. One of the most controversial scenes of the series came when Batman got with Black Canary moments after taking down a group of criminals.
Every relationship has a low point, and this notorious moment fits the bill for Batman and Black Canary’s romance. Overall, these two characters are meant to be with others so, going forward, they should remain no more than teammates.
8 WISH THEY WORKED OUT: BRUCE BANNER & BETTY ROSS
The relationship between Bruce Banner and Betty Ross has to be one of the most underrated romances in comic books. Betty has been around as the Hulk as -- she debuted in The Incredible Hulk #1 in 1962. Betty fell in love with Bruce Banner, the man, but Bruce Banner, the monstrous hero, has often been a source of tension in this relationship.
Bruce has lied to Betty, as he originally kept the Hulk a secret from here. But Betty stood by him and their love remained strong. Unfortunately, Bruce ended their marriage after World War Hulk, and Betty is practically forgotten nowadays as Bruce Banner wanders the Earth solo.
7 GLAD THEY SPLIT: QUICKSILVER & SCARLET WITCH
Of all the relationships on this list, few are more distasteful than the romance between Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. For starters, they’re siblings. Wanda and Pietro Maximoff have always been very close but, in the Ultimate Universe, writers pushed that intimacy to the next level. Of course, many fans found this progression in the relationship off-putting.
Even more disturbingly, Wolverine, who may or may not be the twins’ father in the Ultimate Universe, watched the two. Thankfully, there are no signs that Marvel plans to revisit this unsavory romance. Instead, Wanda and Pietro are just siblings that deeply care about each other.
6 WISH THEY WORKED OUT: ELONGATED MAN & SUE DIBNY
For a long time, the relationship between Ralph and Sue Diby was considered one of the best unions in DC Comics, if not comic books as a whole. Unlike other relationships, Ralph and Sue were partners -- Sue came along with Ralph on on his crime fighting adventures.
With the Dibny’s marriage, writers could explore what the superhero lifestyle looked like, for both the husband and the wife, rather than shoving the latter into the background. Identity Crisis, one of DC’s most infamous events in recent years, ended their relationship, and many fans have never forgiven the company for terminating a strong marriage.
5 GLAD THEY SPLIT: BATMAN & TALIA
Batman’s list of romantic partners is a long one, and Talia al Ghul is one of the most notable women that has stolen the Dark Knight’s heart. Batman fell for Talia, the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul, and they had a child together. The details of their romance vary -- in some continuities, Talia used outside means and coerced him to bear him a child.
Talia believed Batman was the “perfect man,” which would allow her to make a perfect heir to Ra’s al Ghul. While this romance gave the DC Universe Damian Wayne, Batman should steer clear of getting involved with Talia in the future.
4 WISH THEY WORKED OUT: WOLVERINE & JEAN GREY
The relationship between Wolverine and Jean Grey is a perfect example of the forbidden fruit (for both the characters and the fans), or the perpetually unrequited love. It seemed that Jean was always meant to be with Scott Summers -- Marvel Girl and Cyclops were one of Marvel's most iconic couples, so what chance did Wolverine have to win Jean’s affection?
Jean typically rejected Logan but, even when Jean sought Wolverine out, he turned her down because he knew they could never be together. With the original Logan coming back to life and the adult Jean Grey back in the picture, some fans may hope their romance will be rekindled. For the good of these characters, they should just stay friends.
3 GLAD THEY SPLIT: JOKER & HARLEY
As one of the most famous dysfunctional relationships in comic books history, of course Joker and Harley Quinn’s “Mad Love” would be on this list. The Joker is the worst kind of controlling boyfriend that mistreats Harley at every turn. She offers him nothing but love, and he treats her terribly for it.
Harley sacrifices everything in an effort to win the Joker’s favor; she gives up her identity, her appearance, and her values all in an effort to please him. Harley’s self-liberation allowed her to become one of DC’s most popular, successful characters, and it’d be shocking if she and Joker ever got back together.
2 WISH THEY WORKED OUT: PETER PARKER & MARY JANE
The relationship between Spider-Man, or Peter Parker, and Mary Jane Watson is one of the most iconic romances in comic book history. From being the girl next door to the unattainable popular girl to Peter Parker’s wife, Mary Jane has practically always been Peter’s soulmate.
The marriage between the two was a historic moment in comics and, when “One More Day” wiped it from continuity, fans were outraged. It’s taken roughly eleven years, but the legendary couple is finally getting back together in Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man run. Still, many fans will never forget that pain and frustration from “One More Day.”
1 GLAD THEY SPLIT: COLOSSUS & KITTY PRYDE
For a romance that was supposed to give fans “the wedding of the summer,” this relationship is at least a little questionable. When Kitty Pryde met Piotr Rasputin, there was quite the gap in their ages. For a while, Kitty had a crush on Piotr, who was just embarrassed by the whole thing. “Days of Future Past” revealed that the two heroes get married in the future and the writers placed some seeds for their present-day romance.
The two drifted apart but found their way back to each other, only to become an “on again, off again couple.” Kitty broke off their engagement on their wedding day and it’s clear that these two characters should stop trying to make a overly-complicated relationship work.