Central to any superheroes’ origin is a tortured love story. Finding the right person is what usually leads a new hero into becoming who they were meant to be all along. It was Lois who introduced Superman to the world, teenage Peter Parker just wants to be noticed by Mary Jane and Hal Jordan hopes Carol Ferris will stop thinking of him as a screw up. It could be argued that some of Batman’s issues can be traced to the fact that he has no stable love life.
In movie adaptations one of the most important elements is the chemistry. If they can’t find the right connection, viewers will never believe that she is the one he gives up his powers for or that she is the one who makes him put the suit back on. Usually it’s the love interest who is the real heart of a hero’s journey. Some couples burn up the screen, while others, no matter how high profile, just never seem like they’re not on the same page. Sometimes producers should look for more than just star power when casting these duos and find pairs that belong together. With that in mind, here are movie superhero couples who had absolutely no chemistry.
15 TOM HOLLAND AND LAURA HARRIER IN SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
Liz Toomes isn’t really known as one of Peter Parker’s great loves. Everyone usually goes immediately to Mary Jane Watson and Gwen Stacy. Since both have appeared on screen several times as Peter’s love interest, it was a smart choice for Spider-Man: Homecoming to go a different route from the other films.
Unfortunately, their relationship is the basic high school romance. It feels all consuming and important at the time but, later you can see all the flaws. Tom Holland and Laura Harrier do an admirable job portraying this even though they aren’t really given enough screentime together to establish any sort of connection. Peter spends a lot of the movie gazing at Liz from across the cafeteria or gym but, frankly it seems as though Tony is meant to be his real love interest, because that’s where all the chemistry went.
14 VAL KILMER AND NICOLE KIDMAN IN BATMAN FOREVER
Once Bruce lost his true love Selina Kyle in Batman Returns, no other woman would ever measure up. His dual life makes it difficult for any regular girlfriend to understand who he really is. Enter Dr. Chase Meridian, a psychiatrist. If anyone can break through Bruce Wayne’s emotional firewall it’s her right? That may have been true if there were any believable feelings between Val Kilmer and Nicole Kidman.
They’re both talented actors but, here they clearly know their relationship is not important to the overall story and make no effort to pretend they’re interested. Kilmer and Kidman both seemed out of place in the superhero world and their discomfort translated into an obvious lack of chemistry. Never for one second did it feel like she was the missing piece to his complicated life.
13 EDWARD NORTON AND LIV TYLER IN THE INCREDIBLE HULK
Without a doubt the most important relationship in Bruce Banner’s life is the one he has with The Hulk. If you shared your body with a big green rage monster, it would put a damper on your love life. For Bruce, his fear of losing control keeps him from getting too close to anyone. He leaves his girlfriend Betty behind because he can’t trust himself. Their tragic separation is supposed to give them a star-crossed lovers vibe.
However, by the time Edward Norton and Liv Tyler finally reconnect they feel more like old work friends than each other’s true loves. Their commitment to one another never feels so deep or all-consuming that it could be the cause of so much alleged heartache. Also, she seems pretty happy with Ty Burrell.
12 TOBEY MAGUIRE AND KIRSTEN DUNST IN SPIDER-MAN
Peter and Mary Jane are one of comics greatest love stories. They truly go through everything to be together. In the Spider-Man films Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst aren’t completely without chemistry, however, it’s certainly not of the life-changing variety. Yes, the upside down kiss is memorable but, it’s also their one big romantic moment in three movies. Sure she continually gets kidnapped and he keeps saving her but, it doesn’t feel like there’s anything special about it.
Maguire and Dunst start out playing them as high school friends and never move past that to a more adult relationship.They do a good job with the lifelong friends part of the equation but, it’s the romance where things go off course. As all time great love stories go, the pair don’t really sell it.
11 JESSICA ALBA AND IOAN GRUFFUDD IN FANTASTIC FOUR
The Fantastic Four are called the first family of Marvel. At the center of that family are Sue Storm and Reed Richards. They are the glue that keeps them together. On the big screen Jessica Alba and Ioan Gruffudd brought life to their love story. In Fantastic Four they were former lovers who found their way back to each other after the accident that gives them superpowers. In this case, it’s not that they have no chemistry, it’s that it seems off balance.
For example, they have a much stronger connection as arguing exes, than as two people finding their way back to one another. Even worse, Michael Chiklis and Chris Evans are a much more interesting pair as Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm. They do slightly improve in the sequel but, there was really no place to go but up.
10 BLAKE LIVELY AND RYAN REYNOLDS IN GREEN LANTERN
Here’s the thing, Ryan Reynolds can have chemistry with a wet paper bag, so connecting with his future wife Blake Lively should be no problem right? Wrong. There is literally no moment in Green Lantern where Reynolds and Lively are believable as childhood sweethearts Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris. It’s not strictly the actors fault, as there was so much happening in this movie, it didn’t leave any time for developing relationships.
However, in the few scenes they did have together they came off as strangers. Obviously, that’s what they are but, the audience is not supposed to see that in the movie. Reynolds and Lively’s lack of on screen chemistry is only one of many problems in Green Lantern but, that doesn’t get them off the hook.
9 CHRIS HEMSWORTH AND NATALIE PORTMAN IN THOR: THE DARK WORLD
In the first Thor movie Jane and Thor’s relationship is never really the focus. It isn’t until the second film that their romance is supposed to be part of the story. Unfortunately, in Thor: The Dark World it becomes clear right from the start that these two are destined to breakup. Not only does the story never make their romance a priority, Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman seem to know their relationship is unimportant to the overall MCU franchise.
It feels like they never truly commit to being together because they know Portman’s Jane will never be seen again. In fact she only ever got two more mentions in the whole MCU. This is a case of the actors not working on the chemistry since it doesn’t really matter.
8 FAMKE JANSSEN AND JAMES MARSDEN IN X-MEN
Any great love triangle has to have a rooting interest on all ends. This is a major factor in the neverending X-Men love triangle between Jean, Logan and Scott. Everyone talks about Logan and Jean (and we’ll get to that later) but, the other part of that triangle, Jean and Scott also provides a lot to unpack. They’ve grown up together at the Xavier School, learning to control their powers and feeling like no one else understood them.
As adults Famke Janssen and James Marsden play their love story across four movies. Sadly, their story is the most boring part of every X-Men movie they’re in. With Hugh Jackman waiting in the wings, there is absolutely nothing about this couple that screams lifelong romance. Janssen and Marsden do their best but, ultimately there’s just no spark.
7 ROBERT DOWNEY JR. AND GWYNETH PALTROW IN IRON MAN 3
The Iron Man movies could also be called The Curious Case of Tony Stark and Pepper Potts. In a weird turn of events, as the movies continue and they grow from friends to lovers, Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow somehow have less chemistry. In Iron Man there’s a fun His Girl Friday banter to their relationship. In Iron Man 2 they’re obviously in love but, take the scenic route getting there.
Luckily, it’s still a little charming. In The Avengers they’re still in the honeymoon phase. By the time we get to Iron Man 3, they’re living together and are in a real grown up relationship. Unfortunately, they’ve turned into an old married couple who just seem to be going through the motions. There’s nothing interesting left to add. Whether true or not, it feels like Downey Jr. and Paltrow are there to cash a huge Marvel check.
6 HUGH JACKMAN AND LYNN COLLINS IN X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE
X-Men Origins: Wolverine has a lot of issues. Chief among them is Logan’s backstory. He runs away from a government sanctioned mutant hit squad, makes a life in Canada (where all superheroes go to hide out) and falls in love with Lynn Collins’ Kayla. When she is killed, he goes back to the government and they make him into Wolverine. The major problem with this is that Jackman and Collins do not portray the kind of epic love story that would lead a man to altering his genetics so he can go on a revenge spree.
They feel more like two people who happen to be stuck in Canada and decided to hook up with the best looking person in town. It seems implausible that Hugh Jackman could have bad chemistry with anyone but, in this instance the actors just always seem like they’re in two different movies.
5 CHRISTIAN BALE AND KATIE HOLMES IN BATMAN BEGINS
As we’ve previously discussed, Batman is not really built for solid, stable relationships. Bruce Wayne’s unwavering loyalty to being Gotham City’s protector doesn’t leave room for anything else in his life. In Batman Begins, as he’s just starting out as a crimefighter, he really has no time for childhood friend Rachel Dawes, played by Katie Holmes. This actually works out since she spends most of the film yelling at him.
Holmes is so busy with her character’s terrible skills as a lawyer, she never even attempts to match the performance level of Christian Bale. Holmes and Bale have no real connection on any emotional level. She’s supposed to be the one true love that gives him purpose but, that never comes across until Maggie Gyllenhaal takes over in The Dark Knight.
4 BRANDON ROUTH AND KATE BOSWORTH IN SUPERMAN RETURNS
In the comic book world Superman and Lois Lane are #RelationshipGoals. They are the comic book couple that all others are measured against. For the most part, on-screen pairings have lived up to these lofty expectations. Except in Superman Returns. Brandon Routh does a great job of embodying both Clark Kent and Superman. Kate Bosworth is adequate as Lois. However, whenever they’re in a scene together the movie comes to a grinding halt.
All their interactions feel forced and unnatural. The duo have none of Lois and Clark’s Hepburn and Tracy witty banter. Perhaps that’s a high bar but, that’s how the characters read on the page so, that’s what fans expect on screen. Bosworth and Routh delivered two awkward exes who are forced to work together while counting the hours until they can get away from each other.
3 SCARLETT JOHANSSON AND MARK RUFFALO IN AGE OF ULTRON
It seems blasphemous to say that any of the Avengers don’t work well together but, that’s what happened when filmmakers decided to send Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce and Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha down a romantic path. Seeing themselves as broken monsters, the duo bonded over their tragic pasts and planned to runaway together after Ultron was defeated.
As great as Ruffalo and Johansson are, this pairing just never works. There’s absolutely no romantic tension at all between the two actors. They’re more like longtime friends who finally decide to go out on a date that ends with an awkward kiss and a vow to just be friends. Not even Ruffalo’s nerdy charm and Johansson’s tough girl with a fragile center can save the supremely bad idea of this relationship.
2 MARGOT ROBBIE AND JARED LETO IN SUICIDE SQUAD
Listen, Harley Quinn and The Joker have a deeply dysfunctional yet devoted relationship. However, underneath all that crazy is a shared understanding of who they are. In Suicide Squad they spend most of the movie apart but, always thinking about each other. As Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie captures the full level of psychotic loyalty Harley has to Mr. J.
As The Joker, Jared Leto is basically a heart-broken teenager who can’t get anything done because it just hurts too much. Not only are they on two different wavelengths, they’re in two different movies. Maybe it’s Leto’s method approach to the character. Perhaps it’s how the story keeps them separated. Either way, Leto and Robbie are never on the same page, which leads to a completely unrecognizable version of Gotham’s favorite couple.
1 FAMKE JANSSEN AND HUGH JACKMAN IN X-MEN
Beginning with their first meeting in X-Men it was clear that Logan and Jean were supposed to be star-crossed lovers who just met in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hugh Jackman and Famke Janssen are both extremely good looking and on paper could be great love interests. However, across six movies their so-called connection became less important and actually dragged down the franchise.
The lack of chemistry becomes even more apparent when Jackman’s scenes with Halle Berry’s Storm or Rebecca Romijn’s Mystique are overflowing with tension. Seriously, how much better would Wolverine’s life had been if he ended up with Storm? Ultimately, Jackman and Janssen as Logan and Jean just felt like a forced pairing that had to happen because that’s what the comics say.
Which of these couples do you think has the worst chemistry? Let us know in the comments!