Do You Take This Superman?: A Quick-ish History of Superhero Weddings


Romance is a persistent part of most superhero stories. The traditional image of a superhero is a single man who devotes his life to beating up criminals while pining after a love interest who he refuses to pursue lest their relationship put said love interest in the crosshairs of vengeful enemies. So when a superhero decides to go against the grain by getting married, it’s a big deal.

The ways in which each superhero celebrates their big day have changed over time, so I thought it would be interesting to look at ten of the biggest weddings in superhero history. To save time, I will only cover weddings that were actually completed (so no Nightwing/Starfire nuptials, since the wedding was interrupted when Raven incinerated the priest), weddings that happened in canon (so no Silver Age “what if?” stories where Superman marries Lois and then makes her travel everywhere in a bulletproof bubble-mobile), and weddings that were not preemptively axed by editorial mandate (RIP Kate Kane/Maggie Sawyer).

Now, in chronological order — the better to see how they have evolved over the years — let’s put on our Sunday best and crash a few super-weddings!

Aquaman #18 (1960)

From Aquaman #18. Aquaman and Mera say their vows as Aqualad, Robin, the Justice League, and numerous Atlanteans look on.

While many of DC’s Silver Age heroes would sell their own sidekicks to escape the altar, Aquaman jumped at the chance to marry his beloved, beating fellow romantics Flash and Atom by several years.

What’s interesting about this comic is how insignificant the wedding seems compared to everything else that’s going on. This issue crams a whole soap opera’s worth of drama into 25 pages. It starts when Aquaman reluctantly agrees to be crowned king of Atlantis, only to realize that the position requires him to marry a local girl. This puts a damper on his relationship with the interdimensional Mera, whom he only JUST NOW realizes he’s in love with.

It gets more convoluted from there, but the point is, Aquaman doesn’t get to propose until the second-to-last page, and the entire wedding is represented by this single panel (and the cover, in which Robin is standing by himself looking grumpy). The marriage is very much downplayed, as if it was just another plot point for the creators to check off their list.

This wedding also started the unfortunate trend of the male hero/groom showing up in his costume while his bride wears a traditional wedding gown (or at least a veil, as Mera does here). This is a bad, bad, stupid, bad trend. Put some effort into your own wedding, you louses!

Fantastic Four Annual #3 (1965)

From Fantastic Four Annual #3. Reed Richards and Sue Storm are married as all of their superhero friends look on.

Here it is, the granddaddy of all super-weddings. The union of Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic and Sue Storm/the Invisible Woman (then the Invisible Girl) is notable for several reasons.

First, unlike most of the other couples spotlighted here, Reed and Sue have remained married since the wedding. There have been no deaths, divorces, universal retcons, or mood-killing resurrections to come between them. Their marriage has been part of the bedrock of Marvel for decades.

Second, unlike Aquaman, whose wedding was wedged into a single panel with little build-up, this wedding was the focal point for the issue’s feature story. Doctor Doom used his “emotion machine” to manipulate virtually every supervillain from the past, present, and future to converge on the Baxter Building, prompting the wedding guests to leap into costume and help the FF (minus Sue, who for some weaksauce reason hid in her room the whole time) defeat their many foes! It’s epic! It’s exciting! It features Stan Lee and Jack Kirby being kicked out for not having invites! Truly this is the standard by which all future super-weddings must be judged.

And it seems like future super-weddings did indeed take a hint from this issue. Many weddings in the coming years feature villains trying to crash the party, and they take place in a special, extra-long issue — or at least as the climax to a multi-part story, as is the case with our next wedding…

Avengers #60 (1969)

From Avengers #60. Yellowjacket and the Wasp kiss at the altar. Hawkeye mutters about how they should be arresting Yellowjacket, and Black Panther shushes him.

This is the worst superhero wedding I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading.

Quickie recap: Giant-Man up and vanishes. Some dude named Yellowjacket shows up claiming that he killed him and then kidnaps Giant-Man’s girlfriend, the Wasp. He soon lets her go, upon which time Wasp declares that she and Yellowjacket are going to wed. The other Avengers, duly horrified, fail to stop her.

Afterward, when the Circus of Crime attacks the ceremony, it is revealed that Yellowjacket is really Giant-Man, who suffered from sudden-onset schizophrenia and symbolically “killed himself” so that he could marry Jan, even though in an earlier issue he wasn’t sure he was ready for marriage. Jan figured all this out and, instead of getting him to a psychiatric hospital, took advantage of his clear mental distress to marry him.

I think that synopsis speaks for itself, don’t you?

At least one later writer tried to slap a Band-Aid on this disaster by claiming the other Avengers knew Yellowjacket’s real identity the whole time and just didn’t say anything. However, you will note that this doesn’t solve the problem: that Jan (and, apparently, the whole team) has no problem shoving a mentally ill man into a marriage he wasn’t sure he wanted. While their marriage did end amid abuse allegations, those accusations were aimed at Hank, not Jan.

Giant-Size Avengers #4 (1975)

From Giant-Size Avengers #4. Vision & Scarlet Witch and Mantis &

The wedding of Vision and the Scarlet Witch is easily a runner-up for worst wedding ever. It’s a shame, because the parts involving their romance are really sweet.

Vision has spent years struggling to find out who he is and where he belongs in the world. Is he a human man capable of truly loving a human woman, or is he just a machine powered by a stolen soul? In this issue, he finally gains the confidence and the conviction to declare that he is a man in love, and he proposes to a very happy Scarlet Witch. They marry immediately, apparently unwilling to wait a second longer to start their lives together.

So what’s the problem? The entire rest of the issue. You see, there was another Avenger struggling with her identity at this time: Mantis, a martial artist with a mysterious past. This giant-size issue, in addition to resolving Vision’s lingering problems, also wraps up Mantis’s storyline in similar fashion. She, too, receives a proposal…from an alien tree who possesses the corpse of her dead boyfriend, the Swordsman, presumably because marrying a plant would be too weird and also it would prevent them from having children, as is Mantis’s foretold destiny.

And so, rather than allowing readers to focus on the beautiful moment when Vision and Scarlet Witch finally overcome the obstacles and pledge themselves to each other, the issue forces us to watch Mantis marry the Swordsman’s dead body while her creepy tree husband watches from the corner. What kind of presents would you even bring to a wedding like that?

Tales of the Teen Titans #50 (1985)

From Tales of the Teen Titans #50. Donna Troy and Terry Long kiss at the altar as doves fly all around them.

Avengers #60 seems to have unleashed a torrent of terrible superhero weddings. Our latest offender: the wedding of 19-year-old Wonder Girl and her 30-something ex-college professor, Terry Long. I trust I need not elucidate further.

Temporarily setting aside the ick factor, this is the first wedding we’ve looked at so far where the focus of the entire issue (and it’s an extra long one) is on the wedding itself. We get to see Wonder Girl’s friends participate in the preparations, express their best wishes to the bride and groom, and catch up with old acquaintances. Nary a supervillain in sight.

This may be a sign of how the industry had matured over the past 25 years. The creators now knew they had older readers on board who would sit still for a special issue that focused on the characters’ personal lives; they didn’t have to throw in a supervillain to distract the kiddies from the cooties.

Okay, I’m done setting aside the ick factor now. Terry is a creep and this wedding is not okay. What a waste of gorgeous George Pérez art. Bah.

The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (1987)

From The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21. Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson marry in front of their friends and relatives.

The marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson is now more famous for how it ended than how it began. Ill-advised demon bargains aside, the wedding issue seems tailor-made for this couple.

Spider-Man is often thought of as the unluckiest of superheroes, and he knows it. He spends much of the issue looking back on lost loves and wondering if his marrying MJ is really the best decision. Mary Jane gets in her share of angst as well, unsure if she wants to give up her life as a hard-partying model for domestic bliss. Their indecision causes both parties to be late for their own wedding. But they do get there in the end, having decided that their love is worth any risk and any sacrifice. Aww.

Spidey’s wedding was probably the most high-profile ceremony since Reed and Sue Richards. But less than a decade later, an even bigger name would make history by tying the knot…

Superman: The Wedding Album (1996)

From Superman: The Wedding Album. Two-page spread of Clark and Lois's wedding. They kiss in a sunlit church filled with family and friends.

This wedding was so monumental that it could not be contained in a regular issue, not even a jumbo-sized one. DC published a special, 89-page book with a round robin-style story, featuring contributions from just about every major Superman writer and artist from the past 50 years.

The story itself is really understated. It starts with Lois and Clark getting engaged (after previously calling off the engagement) and quietly going about their preparations. It’s even more mellow than Spidey’s wedding, probably because neither Lois nor Clark get cold feet like Peter and MJ do. It really does feel like looking through a wedding album.

I’m not sure how I feel about that, but realistically speaking, what else could DC have done? This is the wedding of Superman and Lois Lane. Anything they came up with was always going to pale in comparison to that pitch. Keeping the whole thing low-key was probably their best bet, and it is a very nice issue.

What I also find interesting is that Clark was depowered at this point, and Lois was happy to marry him regardless. It’s such a nice way to show off Lois’s character development, given her long history of throwing over ordinary Clark for the fantastic Superman. Also, Lois gets to kick as much butt as Clark this issue, which is GREAT.

The Authority #29 (2002)

From The Authority #29. Apollo and Midnighter kiss amid a bright background as confetti falls all around them and their friends.

Apollo and Midnighter had already made history as comicdom’s first prominent, out gay superhero couple. They made further history when they married in the very last issue of The Authority‘s original run.

Aside from being historic, the ceremony is…okay. I felt like it came out of nowhere: the previous few issues didn’t even hint that they were engaged or thinking of marriage, though maybe I just didn’t read far enough back. Then again, as I said, this was the last issue; maybe the creators felt rushed, or they wanted to go out on a high note, or they felt like they no longer had anything to lose and decided to take what was at the time a huge step by featuring a same-sex wedding in a mainstream comic book.

The wedding was the culmination of a typically nasty storyline (The Authority is not a nice series), so if nothing else, this was a welcome moment of happiness, even if the person marrying them has no idea what she’s doing. “Husband and husband, apparently,” she says. Were you ordained yesterday or what?!

Finally, I apologize for subjecting you to the horror that is Midnighter’s wedding outfit, which is just like his regular murder duds, but white. When I said the guys should put effort into their wedding outfits, this isn’t what I meant!

Black Panther #18 (2006)

From Black Panther #18. Storm and Black Panther kiss surrounded by drummers and panther statues.

The above panel is pretty representative of Storm and Black Panther’s wedding: yes, two people got married, but they were overshadowed by a whole lot of other stuff.

Some of that other stuff is necessary, given the characters. Storm is a powerful mutant and princess who some see as a goddess; Black Panther is the king of Africa’s most prosperous nation. Everyone knew this was a political as well as romantic affair (T’Challa only went looking for a wife because his mom told him to) and that they were likely to get from attention from supervillains. The comic itself determinedly pushed this as “the wedding of the century” and even had the Watcher turn up, which he only does when Really Big Shit is going down.

Other stuff, however, only served to distract attention away from this historic (two Black heroes getting married!) ceremony. Ororo and T’Challa wed just as the Civil War was heating up, and Captain America and Iron Man were too busy hating on each other to attend the ceremony. Heck, if you look at the cover of this issue, Cap and Iron Man almost get as much focus as the bride and groom!

Despite the weirdness, this wedding follows many of the established conventions and comes complete with supervillain attacks; an epic-length, multi-part story leading up to the big day; and a lot of heart.

Astonishing X-Men #51 (2012)

From Astonishing X-Men #51. Northstar and Kyle Jinadu float in the air and kiss high above the guests at their wedding.

Northstar and his boyfriend Kyle Jinadu made a ton of headlines in 2012 as the stars of Marvel’s first gay super-wedding. (Though, as previously noted, Apollo and Midnighter had the first ever gay super-wedding.) As historic as this was, in some ways, it felt very ordinary.

First, the wedding took place in a regular issue of Astonishing X-Men. They did add a few extra pages, but it’s not a jumbo-size issue or an annual. Also, while the wedding prep does take up most of the issue, it is interspersed with flashbacks to the last issue and set-up for the next issue.

In some ways, it’s nice to see the creators treating a same-sex wedding as a special but normal event. On the other hand, we have yet to see such a wedding get the same pomp, attention, and fanfare as some of the straight weddings featured here. Certainly Northstar is no Superman, but wouldn’t it be nice to see a same-sex couple get a whole issue to themselves the way Spider-Man or Wonder Girl did?

At least Northstar wore a dang suit.

Superhero weddings were shy at first. With Aquaman and Mera and Apollo and Midnighter — both firsts, in their own ways — the wedding hid itself in the very back of the book, all but buried beneath your average, everyday fisticuffs. But eventually, they gain their footing and become bombastic occasions filled with exciting fights, sentimental reminiscing, and plenty of romance. They’re not always good, but when they are, they are every bit as super as their participants. That’s worth throwing some rice over!


Source link

Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *