The 8 Ball 4.29.14: Top 8 Comic Book Movie Couples
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 04.29.2014
From Peter Parker & Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man and Tony Stark & Pepper Potts to Batman & Catwoman, Superman & Lois Lane and more, 411's Jeremy Thomas counts down the top 8 comic book movie couples!
Welcome, one and all, to the 8 Ball in the Movie Zone! I'm your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, we will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You're free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is "wrong" is just silly. With that in mind, let's get right in to it!
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Top 8 Comic Book Movie Couples
Welcome back to the 411 Movie Zone 8 Ball, ladies and gentlemen! I hope you guys had a fantastic weekend; I had a surprising and amazing one myself. But we're not here to talk about our days; we're here to talk about movies. And this week The Amazing Spider-Man 2 swings into theaters for hopes in continuing the tradition Marvel-related films have of striking gold. (Spoiler alert: it will strike gold no matter its merits or flaws.) One of the best things going in the new franchise is the relationship between Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker, and so this week we're talking inspiration from that to list the greatest comic book movie couples of all-time. It's not all about flowers and romance with these couples, but it is about hearts and love and the way those romances improve the films. Let's get right to it!
Caveat: Pretty simple here, really: I was looking for romantic couples in comic book film adaptations. They had to clearly be a couple: no flirtatious "will they or won't they" ambiguity, though they didn't have to necessarily "seal the deal" in order to qualify. In terms of how I ranked them, I looked at how the relationships made each character better--not from a moral context, but from a characterization and narrative context. I am not a fan of "damsel" type leading lady roles so being damselled a lot generally hurt placing on the list. And as usual, I tried to keep the list down to one romance per character (even with reboots/remakes) and one romance per movie.
Just Missing The Cut
• Hellboy and Liz - Hellboy Films
• Silk Spectre and Nite Owl - Watchmen
• Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
• Thor and Jane Foster - Thor
• Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter - Captain America Films
#8: Eric Draven and Shelley Webster - The Crow
The first couple on our list is primarily as low as they are because we don't really see them together outside of flashbacks. However, that doesn't discount their status as a great couple. The Crow is one of the great comic book films of the 1990s, a fantastic gothic-punk take on James O'Barr's famous graphic novel and it is the relationship between Eric Draven and Shelly Webster that gives the story its narrative punch. Brandon Lee truly would have gone on to become one hell of a star based on his performance here, which comes across as anguished and tormented (and a little insane) throughout the events that occur within the film. But the few flashback moments we see show Eric and Shelly in a happier time when they were alive, and even these brief flashes show us a wonderful couple who had everything in the world. Sofia Shinas and Lee had a fantastic chemistry in those scenes and of course it is her murder that brings Eric back from the dead. Technically he's back for a bit of payback for his own demise too, but I think we can all agree that Eric's murder wouldn't have been enough to draw her back. Some of the most beautiful moments in this film are drawn from these two together, which only happens for a few short minutes all in all but really form the heart of the picture. Lee said before his tragic death that he saw the film not as a revenge tale so much as a love story and with these two characters you can definitely see where he was coming from.
#7: Batman and Catwoman - Batman Returns
Batman has had no shortage of girlfriends on the silver screen and I went back and forth on who to include between Vicki Vale and Catwoman. (As great as she is, Meridian Chase didn't get much consideration and Rachel Dawes is in last place on that list.) Vicki was almost the perfect girlfriend for Bruce Wayne within the cinematic Batman universe, but ultimately I felt that Selina Kyle was a better match. Batman and Catwoman are two sides of the same coin in Tim Burton's Batman Returns; the former seeks justice for Gotham following a terrible injustice done to him and his family while the latter just wants revenge. They both certainly could have ended up in each other's shoes and that's what I think makes them as interesting as a duo. It doesn't hurt of course that Catwoman is no damsel in distress here; she's pretty much Batman's equal in terms of physical and combat skills and that makes them a more equitable pairing. The fact that Batfans were constantly clamoring for Michelle Pfeiffer's return throughout that particular continuity and not many were calling for Kim Basinger's says a lot about the appeal of each, and it wasn't just about the skintight cat suit. Adversarial relationships are always fun because of the dramatic and sexual tension, and these two had both in spades.
#6: Wolverine and Jean Grey - X-Men Franchise
Jean Grey is in a love triangle during the course of the X-Men films, much as she is in the comics. That triangle pits her between Wolverine and Cyclops and while she's often with Mr. Summers, it's clear that Logan has her heart just as strongly. And when it comes to who makes the better couple, I don't think there's any contest. Nothing against James Marsden; he did fine with the role. But Logan taps into that darkness inside Jean that Scott just can't understand and it makes for a better pairing. The fact that Scott is dead in the universe (at least until Days of Future Past hopefully erases that) and Jean appeared to Logan in The Wolverine solidifies that fact. Wolverine and Jean have several moments throughout the films that resonate strongly, from their first encounter in the X-Mansion medical bay all the way through to his killing the Phoenix in The Last Stand and even those moments in his dreams from the most recent film. These two may have been a doomed couple, but they aren't the only one on this list by a long shot and Famke Janssen's chemistry with Hugh Jackman was pretty exceptional to boot.
#5: Marv and Goldie - Sin City
Here's a couple that, much like Eric and Shelly, you don't get a lot of screen time between. At least with them you get some time together before Goldie's inevitable demise at the hands of little psychopathic Kevin. Goldie and Marv are the classic "Beauty and the Beast" combo that you can see in noir films quite often: the beautiful hooker who needs a protector and the scarred, hulking bruiser with a sense of honor who she picks for the job. Goldie's murder pushes Marv to find out the truth, and it's a road that leads to his own death but it's one he gladly accepts in order to secure justice for the girl who showed him kindness. Of course we meet Goldie's sister along the way too, and Marv has a couple tender moments with her to but it's not a romantic thing. There were several great pairings in Sin City but for me these two will always be the best story in that first film and they light up the screen during their brief time together. And by the way, I know the picture is Wendy and Marv but finding a Safe For Work picture of Goldie and Marv together is like finding a needle in a stack of other needles, so there you have it.
#4: Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy - The Amazing Spider-Man
A lot of people may cry injustice at this particular Spider-Man pairing making the list over Mary Jane and Peter, but I believe these two are the superior couple by far. That's not a patch at Kirsten Dunst or Toby Maguire, who I felt were good in their roles. But they didn't have the chemistry of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, for one. That may be because of Garfield and Stone's real-life relationship but I would note that many real-life couples have had zero on-screen chemistry (see: Pattinson, Robert and Stewart, Kristen for one good example). The other thing that gives them the edge and helps propel them to the top half of this list is the fact that Gwen is not a damsel in distress. Don't get me wrong; she is certainly in need of rescuing if she gets into a situation where supervillians come into play. But she's also resourceful and is actually able to help facilitate something in the plot aside from just the love story. This film has a lot of criticism from some people and while I don't agree with some of it, I respect those opinions. I do think that Garfield and Stone are great in their roles though and they make Peter and Gwen someone you root for, where half the time with Peter and MJ you're wondering why they're actually together.
#3: Leonidas and Gorgo - 300
Remember what I said about Gwen Stacy not just being a damsel for Peter to rescue? Well, this pairing leaves that one in the dust in terms of being the ultimate example of relationship equality. Leonidas may be the badass Spartan leader in this film, but Queen Gorgo (played by the always-amazing Lena Headey) has all of his attitude and a fair amount of his skills as well. 300 has received some criticism over the years for being overly stylistic and light on substance, and that may be true. (I still enjoy it though.) The characterization of Leonidas and Gorgo's relationship, however, is one of its best parts, a loving and sincere marriage in which both partners hold their own and respect each other. When Leonidas needs advice, he goes to Gorgo for it. And Gorgo has nothing but the utmost love and respect for her husband as well. Their parting before the 300 go off to their impossible battle against Xerxes' Persian army is one of my favorite moments; Gorgo's recitation of the saying "Come back with your shield, or on it" is just stellar. And even separate they both hold their own nicely; they may be stronger together, but they're strong individuals apart too.
#2: Tony Stark and Pepper Potts - Iron Man Films
It's unfortunate that Marvel hasn't done as well with their movie relationships as they've done in other avenues of their films. Thor and Jane Foster are alright, but Jane is a bit too damsel-y for my tastes and the power mismatch isn't made up for well with her scientific skills (which have generally just gotten her in trouble). Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter are a great duo but their time was cut short thanks to his whole "frozen for seventy years" thing. The good news is that Marvel hit the jackpot with Tony Stark and Pepper Potts in the Iron Man films. Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow are the epitome of on-screen chemistry and their characterization of Tony and Pepper's relationship is one of the greatest joys of the franchise. Their rapid-fire repartee is stellar, a call back to the screwball comedies of the 1940s and '50s and while Pepper gets damselled a bit in each film, it's only vaguely so and at least in the last one she gets to kick some ass on her own. Their relationship is one of sharp barbs but it's also a caring one, punctuated by Pepper's resourcefulness and Tony's personality flaws. They are the quintessential Marvel couple and I can certainly hope that the studio strikes gold like this again because it really pushed the films' quality levels up in every case.
#1: Superman and Lois Lane - Superman
I'm a big-time Marvel fanboy and I've never been a heavy Superman fan. That being said, it would be asinine not to give these two their due. We've seen Superman and Lois Lane romance each other in almost every medium and on almost every kind of screen, but in terms of film there is one definitive version. With all due respect to Kate Bosworth and Amy Adams, Margot Kidder is THE Lois Lane and may stay that way for all-time unless Miss Adams gets a wee bit better writing. And her dynamic with Christopher Reeve's Clark Kent/Kal-El is off the charts. These are two characters that are destined to be together (yes, that was a light shot at the New 52) and you see it in every minute they're on screen. Lois may not be Superman's equal in terms of power set (who is, really?) but she is like Pepper in being smart, resourceful and pretty damned brave and she not only intimidates Clark a bit, she forces him to be a better person much like Pepper does to Tony. The only thing pushing Lois and Clark over the edge here is the fact that they were just the slightest bit better paired; it was really almost a tie for the #1 spot. In the end though, I had to go with the iconic DC couple.
Disguise of the Episode
Current Series/Season:Season One (2001 - 2002) Episodes Watched: 16 Last Serial Completed:The Prophecy - Sydney is tested by the DSR to discover her mysterious link to a chilling 500-year-old picture and prophecy foretold in a Rambaldi manuscript. Meanwhile, after uncovering the identity of the rogue group leader, "The Man," Sloane learns through fellow Alliance of Twelve member Edward Poole that a close friend may be in cahoots with the enemy. Episodes Remaining: 89
And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don't forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! JT out.