Superheroes, through their form and function, carry some serious baggage. They almost always suffer a burden from the ostracization that comes from being different, whether it’s a mutation or a secret identity, or whatever. They also necessarily have undergone a lifetime of violence and hardship. And part of the attraction and bond they share with their partners comes from the understanding and the sharing of those burdens. Now, even though not to many of us have had to deal with our home planet being blown to Kryptonic stardust or having our uncles murdered by the same thugs we neglected to apprehend that same night, we’ve all got crosses to bear and lessons to learn from our comic book counterparts.
In all the superhero stories there are three main types of relationships.
They can be summed up thusly.
There’s the Jean Grey/Cyclops dynamic
There’s the Superman/Lois Lane couple
And there’s the wild destructive flames, lets call them Batman and Catwoman.
1) Jean Grey/Cyclops (Scarlett Witch/Vision, Mr. Fantastic/Invisible Woman etc.)
- Scott Summers and Jean Grey are in the same boat. Both of them grew up as mutants, faced similar challenges throughout their entire lives, and have also been together since they were teenagers. They’ve both had their challenges. Jean is possessed by the omnipotent but unstable “Phoenix” curse while Scott barbeques anything thing he sets eyes on every time he takes off his ruby-quartz glasses. The thing is, familiarity breeds contempt. And despite their devotion to each other, they’re always pushed and pulled in other romantic directions. Jean Grey is constantly attracted to bad-boy Wolverine, and Scott Summers has gotten it on with White Widow, Madelyn Pryor, and even had the hots for Psylocke.
- So what can we learn from the two superheroes that have made it work? We know that life is going to throw up some challenges, but you both have a huge shared history and you’ve both gone through so much together. Even if you’re sometimes pulled in different directions, you know you’ll always come back to each other. It’s written in the stars!
2) The Superman/Lois Lane (Spiderman/Mary Jane Watson, Batman/Vicky Vale, Hulk/Betsy Braddock, Iron Man/Pepper Potts).
- In these relationships we have a super-powered man (it’s always a man) and a wily, capable, but un-super woman behind him. It may be a bit of a throwback to the fifties. But we can find lots of parallels with relationships today, where one partner is a high powered “earth shaker” and the other is a behind the scenes, independent spirit getting the job done.
- The problem with these relationships always revolves around the superhero needing to be brought down to earth once in a while and the partner sometimes needs to be rescued from their overcompensating.
- What we can learn from these relationships is that they work best when they rely on each other’s talents and strengths, helping to shore up their weaknesses and keep each other honest. Always remember that behind every SpiderMan there is a Mary Jane, and visa versa!
3) Batman/Catwoman (Wolverine/Mystic, Dwight McCarthy/Gail)
- These are the star-crossed lovers, destined for chaos and turmoil, but drawn together (pardon the pun) just like moths to the flame. We see them on difference sides of the fence and the law, and their relationships are doomed from the start. But they make for some of the hottest and most heartbreaking moments in their lives.
- The problem, of course, is that this sort of relationship always leaves destruction in their wake. We see these things get wild, passionate, and then they spiral and explode.
- What they do right is the passion. And if you’ve lived your life without a relationship like this, you really have missed out on something. They always work out best when both heroes understand what they’re getting into and the know when to call it quits before it’s too late. To quote Dwight McCarthy “The fire baby, it’ll burn us both. There’s no place in this world for that kind of fire.” Whoa baby!
So, we might not all fall into the superhero category, but we can all learn a thing or two from how those relationships turn out… Even as we munch on popcorn in the theaters!
Karla Stephens-Tolstoy, Tokii CEO & Founder
A business and brand maverick, skilled in building start-ups and building brand management teams in North America, Asia and Europe.