Unless you’ve been holed up in the Batcave, you’re aware that in today’s Batman #24, The Dark Knight pops the question to his longtime flame Catwoman.
Hey, it’s not a spoiler if literally every comic book website – and USA Today – put the reveal in their headlines!
Whether this is just a DC sales stunt or the actual beginning of a lovely marriage between our favorite Bat and Cat, the big reveal sparked a conversation among the AiPT! staff. These days, when a publisher announces that a beloved character is engaged, many fans surely dismiss it as a stunt to boost sales. And in many cases, those same publishers have a plan for how they’ll eventually dissolve the union. So with all that in mind, should comic book characters like Batman and Spider-Man even be allowed to get married?
Cam: I don’t think being allowed to marry is a problem per se, but it is hard to get excited about any big life event in comics, particularly Big Two ones.
The amount of turnover involved in constantly coming up with stories means that any life event, be it a marriage, death, graduation, team shake-up – I look at all of them with a healthy dose of, “OK, but like, what’s going to happen NEXT month…?”
There’s no reason to forbid exploring these stories, but perhaps the more salient question is “how interesting is it to have the character get married?”
Eric: I agree that marriage should definitely be a topic that writers can use. Like Cam said, though, there can definitely be an issue when marriage (or other big events) get unwritten almost immediately (or poorly, regardless of how long its been). Unless a character’s marriage is intended from the get-go to end badly, and for the story to address divorce or romantic conflict in some meaningful way, I feel like it’s a bad idea to have characters marry without the writers being committed to developing the relationship for a fairly long time.Cam: The only marriage stories I really take issue with are the ones that happen in like two issues. Bruce Wayne meets a hottie who gets it, two issues later, she’s in the Batcave, one issue later, it turns out she’s a plant person created by Poison Ivy. Wait. What? How did the birth, life, and death of a relationship so serious that she saw the Batcave just happen over the course of a single trade paperback?
Ken: Just as important as the buildup, I think, is the inevitable dissolution. Comic book writers do not have a great track record here (ahem, One More Day), which is surprising. Breakups and divorces are dramatic life moments full of conflict and emotions. Potentially ripe territory for stories. Obviously, the threat of fan blowback makes it tough to approach, but the pressures of superhero marriages are sure to strain a marriage. I think it’d be interesting ground, and help make a marriage status quo more impactful, even if only temporary.
Jason: I’m of the mind that anyone who wants to get married should be able to get married. Whatever consenting vigilantes who love each other choose to do with their bond is their own business, and shouldn’t be impugned by any governing body. To address the latent issue, people get married. It would be weird if superheroes – who for the most part are people – didn’t get wed from time to time.As you get older, do you have a desire to see your favorite characters mature along with you, or would you prefer they stay the same overtime?
Patrick: This is my ongoing difficulty with comics. Characters that don’t mature, stagnate. Characters that do, eventually bump into the Punisher problem – I.e., he’s a Vietnam vet, but he seems pretty fit for an 80 year old. They also end up getting buried under all the weird quirks and character pieces built up over a long history, requiring a reboot in some cases.
So my feeling is – the basic canon of the character should stay the same. Batman, Batmobile, Robin, Joker, Alfred, etc. We keep seeing “deaths” and weddings and children complicating characters, and sometimes it works really well. Bucky Barnes coming back is an amazing example of a character growing and maturing and becoming a great add-in to the Marvel Universe. The flip side, is that a New 52-type reboot could actually work really well, in that all that past character work still exists, just over there – here’s a new version of the character we all know and love.
Cam: I agree that it’s really tricky to evolve and mature without acknowledging passing of time, which is ultimately what something like marriage represents; the maturation of a character to the point of being able to take on the responsibility of marriage. Spider-Man just felt more like he was late 20s/early 30s when he had a wife and a job teaching high school. But it was nice to feel like time had passed and he was finally in control of his life. Starting as a young person and “growing up” with a character, seeing “hey they can get their act together, I can too!” is comforting.
That said, although there was a LOT not to like about Brand New Day, by magically doing away their marriage, it did bring Spidey back down to more of an Early 20s, hapless guy, going on dates, living the crazy life of a bachelor, which to me feels like more of an honest depiction of “classic Spider-Man,” so there’s also value to DE-maturing someone, taking away their relationship, and starting fresh.Eric: Generally speaking, I like to see characters grow and change over time. It’s possible to keep characters fairly similar to their original incarnations and still tell compelling stories, but I feel like it’s easier to keep things interesting when you let characters develop and have them go through experiences they never have before. The catch, of course, is the time issue. “How old is this character really?” I feel like as long as characters’ origins don’t cite specific historical events (i.e. specific wars and dates) it’s easier to deal with time shenanigans than it would be otherwise.
Jason: I honestly would prefer if the characters aged in real time and changed based on their experiences. I love Cyclops, but I think it would be interesting to see him as a grizzled septuagenarian at this point. It’s not like publishers don’t have ways to stick with known quantities if they want to. Shoot, DC reboots its continuity every 10 years or so, meaning we’re on our third or fourth different origin story for some characters. Also, to beat this dead horse even further, reading a character that stays the same for like 30 years is boring
Does knowing that marriages will eventually be dissolved make you lose interest in these types of comic stunts?
Eric: Yes. I don’t instantly look at every marriage in comic books and go, “this will definitely end,” but it definitely enters my head as a possibility. It doesn’t kill my interest completely, but it makes me weary.
Jason: To relate this question to the other nerdy passion I can’t entirely get away from, it’s like a wrestling tag team. Invariably, they’re going to break up, but it’s fun while it lasts. You don’t need to know how a storyline ends to enjoy the ride, so much like a real marriage, all you can do is watch and hope for the best.
Finally, what is your all-time favorite comic book marriage?
Patrick: Peter Parker and MJ. I think it’s total bullshit that they got wiped away to save an old broad. Self-inflicted stupid wounds by one of the smartest guys in the Marvel Universe is just annoying.
Eric: If they ever actually went beyond being fiances like they have been for quite a while now, I’d say Wiccan and Hulkling. But, my more technical answer would probably be Spidey and MJ.
Cam: My favorite? MJ and Pete.
The best? Lois Lane and Clark Kent. While MJ and Pete are great and charming, Clark and Lois’s marriage is a key part of the equation of Clark’s humanity. That humanity is in turn the most important aspect of Superman. Having the relationship that they do is part of what grounds Clark and provides a crucial support system. It’s a tie between Lois and Jimmy Olsen (His and Superman’s bromance is 2nd place for “best romance in comics”) for number of times they’ve talked Clark out of funk and back into the tights. She is as much a part of what makes Superman Superman as apple pie and the American Way. Everybody else is competing for 2nd place (including Jimmy Olsen).
Ken: Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. It was (is?) an interesting relationship from the outset. For one thing, the interracial relationship added a fresh dynamic, but mostly it was very realistic. Luke and Jessica were flawed, kind of world-weary people who balanced each other out. They were equals in the relationship, unlike most other superhero marriages. Finally, their child-out-of-wedlock was refreshingly modern. Their marriage was perfectly fitting for two street-level heroes. I don’t know what popular opinion of it is, but I’ll be interested to see how this develops in the Marvel-Netflix-verse.
Jason: I rather like the Scott and Jean wedding back in X-Men #30. This was back in the day when a lot of artists (including Andy Kubert) drew a lot of X-characters with ridiculous proportions, and seeing a crowd of normal-sized people interspersed with 7-footers like Warpath and Strong Guy was a funny aesthetic. It also got made into one of my favorite sequences in the old X-Men cartoon. That being said, I definitely preferred Scott with Emma.Agree? Disagree? Let us know your own opinions of comic book marriages in the comment space below!