Last night a friend of mine told a story concerning a panel at this past weekend’s New York Comic Con in which fans had argued over the merits of a certain web slinger’s married and single states. Essentially, no conclusion could be met since the room was filled with both single and romantically attached fans. A desire to connect with the protagonist exists within all of literature but is heightened within the superhero genre. This is in part caused by the breadth of choices one has in selecting a superhero tale to read (or watch for that matter). In a sense, there is a superhero for everyone and this often causes the reader to select a character that they feel represents their own situation. Threaten to change that relationship and you will meet fervent opposition. This is not to say that all superhero weddings have been met with disdain. Multiple Flashes, X-People and Emerald Archers have made their vows without much controversy. However, there are certain unions which still come into question with support on both sides of the argument. For time’s (and my own sanity’s) sake, I will address only one of these, the one that is perhaps the most important.
Lois and Clark. No matter how you slice it, this is THE relationship in superhero history. The struggle of the secret identity against the desire to live a normal life was an absolute in Superman comics over many decades. In 1996, DC Comics finally bit the bullet and married the two characters in regular DCU continuity. Since then, two arguments have been made. The dissenters call for the return to the pseudo love triangle between the brash and beautiful Lois, the meek and kindly Clark Kent and his messianic alter ego. The supporters tend to embrace the idea that this marriage can lead to new, exciting stories taking the last son of Krypton to new heights.
I’ll start with the dissenters because they have a strong argument for a number of reasons. One is that the un-wed Superman is the most familiar version of the story to the public. Lois’ constant belittling of Clark juxtaposed with her worship of Superman is simply iconic and it should be no surprise that much of the audience would wish to sustain this. Another argument is that the removal of Clark’s longing to have a meaningful relationship with Lois makes the already god-like Kal-El that much more difficult to relate to. In the unmarried state, Superman can be portrayed as the man who seems to have everything but, in truth, is lacking in the one thing he really wants.
The counter argument to this is typically pretty simple, but has its value. If we all know that Lois and Clark are in love, why not let them get married. It opens up opportunity for new stories and new concerns for The Man of Steel. Additionally, Superman’s villains (especially the more powerful types) have a new target that actually bleeds. Superman becomes more relatable in this scenario because it forces him to expand his mortal family. Superman now has more than just his human parents to worry about when Braniac takes over the internet. This also opens the door for little half-Kryptonians, a topic covered in many of the 60’s “imaginary stories”, but let’s save that argument for another day.
I suppose that you are looking for my opinion by this point and the truth is I don’t really have one. I have read amazing stories using both scenarios and I feel that if the writer has something valid to say under either condition it will work out fine. The idea of Superman is bigger than the scenarios he exists in. A great Superman story is a great Superman story forever, whether Lois and Clark remain married until the end of time or if the marriage is ret-conned next year. This is not to say terrible decisions cannot be made *cough* mullet Superman *cough* but these modern myths always seem to correct themselves somehow. Superman was here before most of us, and will outlast all of us. The same can be said for characters like Spider-Man, who in recent years didn’t have too many great stories in either situation. It just takes one writer to put things back on track. At their best, these characters come from a very honest place and should never be limited unless the change will violate the character’s essential traits. Superman can’t kill, but maybe he can get married.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Keep reading! -Vinny
and now, my completely unrelated video pick of the week