The Ten Most Romantic Couples In The MCU: Ranked!

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has (in)famously had a hard time establishing romantic relationships between its characters: even the few love stories that have helped to define the overarching story have sometimes gone through ups and downs, or simply collided headfirst with a brick wall and died (looking at you, Thor & Jane). And yet they keep trying to master the same old boy-meets-girl (or Norse-god-meets-girl, or boy-meets-alien, or computer-program-meets-girl) formula. That’s why, in celebration of Valentine’s Day, I’ve set myself a challenge: trying to find the ten most romantic, endearing, adorable couples in the MCU and ranking them.

Disclaimer: “ships” or non-canon pairings aren’t being considered on this list because that would be cheating – most MCU “ships” are at least ten times better than the majority of actual onscreen pairings. It’s simply not fair to compare.

10: Thor & Jane Foster.

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These two had something that looked like potential – I mean, if you squinted really hard. From the moment that Thor, the Norse God of Thunder and rightful heir to the throne of Asgard, crash-landed in the American Southwest, upsetting one of Jane Foster’s pseudo-scientific experiments, Marvel tried to convince audiences that a grand and glorious epic love-story for the ages was brewing – but all the magic (or “what your ancestors call magic”) words in the Marvel mythos couldn’t force Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman to look more than remotely disinterested in each other. And after Thor: The Dark World failed to turn up the heat, or really do anything at all, Portman had finally had enough: she quit the MCU, and Jane Foster was subsequently written out of the story. In Thor: Ragnarok, it was briefly mentioned that she broke up with the Thunder God offscreen – an uncomfortably awkward conclusion to what was supposed to be a cornerstone of Thor’s entire arc.

9: Stephen Strange & Christine Palmer.

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I’m actually tempted to move this couple ever so slightly further up the list, because while they’re not exactly memorable, they’re also probably not as bad and/or boring as you remembered. Dr. Stephen Strange, a snobbish, arrogant surgeon, wasn’t just the on-and-off boyfriend of Dr. Christine Palmer – he was also her work-partner, and it was mentioned (though never really elaborated on) that the two had even pioneered an important new surgical technique, making the couple basically equal. And after Strange’s run-in with karma, it was Palmer who tried to help him recover his strength and rebuild his life: their heated argument about Strange’s future is the most powerful scene in the Doctor Strange movie, and carries a lot of emotional weight. Unfortunately, Rachel McAdams’ character basically fades into the background after that, and apart from being privy to a battle on the astral plane and trying (unsuccessfully) to save the Ancient One’s life, she really has nothing more to do in the story. And she’s not returning for the sequel, so I guess that’s the end of that.

8: Peter Quill & Gamora.

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I don’t really like either Peter Quill (a.k.a. Star-Lord, an interstellar pirate armed with braggadocio, semi-Celestial powers that have proved to be entirely inconsequential outside of his own movies, and an impressive playlist of golden oldies), or Gamora (a.k.a. The Most Dangerous Woman In The Galaxy, who never actually lived up to that title before her untimely death at the hands of male screenwriters who didn’t know what else to do with her her own father, Thanos): nonetheless, I have to admit they had a spark of chemistry in both Guardians Of The Galaxy movies – and their interactions in Avengers: Infinity War, during which Gamora nearly convinced Quill to kill her (long story), are pretty emotional. There was something there! It wasn’t much, maybe, but it also wasn’t not there – much to the dismay of Thor & Peter Quill shippers everywhere. But in the end, Quill failed (because doesn’t he always?), Gamora got tossed off a cliff, and here we are with nothing left of their relationship but a sad trail of bubbles.

7: Natasha Romanoff & Bruce Banner.

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I like Avengers: Age Of Ultron. I know it’s unpopular to say this, but it’s honestly the best Avengers movie – not only because it references the events of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., but also because it successfully balances almost all of the main characters while still being able to add a couple new ones to the mix. There’s a cohesive plot, the stakes are raised, and the Avengers get to interact with each other on a more personal, intimate level than ever before. And then there’s Natasha Romanoff’s random relationship with Bruce Banner – while it’s not a bad idea, and they make a cute couple, the basis for their coupling up is based on the problematic idea that they’re both “monsters”: Bruce, because he transforms into a giant green killing machine; Natasha, because she’s…infertile? The messaging is weird and kind of sexist, especially since it would have been way easier to make Natasha’s murderous past with the KGB the reason for her guilt and self-loathing. It’s a shame, because Natasha actually did have better interactions with Bruce than she ever had with her former love interest, Clint Barton, but for better or worse their story arc was completely abandoned in Avengers: Infinity War.

6: T’Challa & Nakia.

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While there’s certainly an argument to be made that T’Challa, the catsuit-wearing guardian of the African nation of Wakanda, is slightly more low-key and subdued than many of his co-stars in Black Panther (let’s face it, he doesn’t have Okoye’s fiery energy, Killmonger’s smoldering charisma, or M’Baku’s macabre humor), there can be no denying that his relationship with Wakandan secret agent/humanitarian Nakia is super cute. The two are a power couple, with both characters having genuine hero moments – Nakia even briefly diverts the main focus of the film away from T’Challa, and considers becoming the Black Panther herself. By the end of the film, she’s also working around the world to help extend Wakandan aid to those in need. And when they’re onscreen together, they’re presented as a healthy, sturdy relationship that doesn’t have to rely on drama, troubling gender dynamics, or sarcastic banter to be interesting. They’re basically #CoupleGoals, and I love them.

5: Wanda Maximoff & The Vision.

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Ah, the tragic story of the computer program who became a man…once, for no apparent reason, and never did so again. The Vision, a sentient computer program outfitted with a cool new body (that, unfortunately for him, came along with the Mind Stone, one of the most coveted objects in the galaxy), didn’t really show any signs of attraction to the troubled witch, Wanda Maximoff, until Captain America: Civil War, but when their romance finally kicked into gear, and the two began to bond over spicy food, things got good – and then immediately got weird again, when Wanda blasted Vision through a floor, before suddenly…ending up on the run with him in Scotland? Where Vision was suddenly able to turn into a human man, but only did so once, for reasons that were never explained? Yeah, so there’s some serious gaps in what we actually know about their relationship, but at least it ended on a strong note, with Wanda having to brutally murder her lover in an attempt to destroy the Mind Stone before Thanos could get to it, only to watch Thanos use the Time Stone to reverse all her hard work, murder Vision again, and use the Stones to wipe out half the galaxy, including Wanda herself. If it’s any consolation, the upcoming WandaVision series on Disney+ will feature Wanda resurrecting her dead partner, only to have him presumably die once again when her entire reality inevitably comes crashing down around her. Cheerful, am I right?

4: Scott Lang & Hope Van Dyne.

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Technically, there have been two canon MCU power couples that call themselves Ant-Man and The Wasp: Hope Van Dyne’s parents, Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne, and then Hope herself and her partner, reformed burglar/single father/world’s best grandma, Scott Lang. But the latter couple has the edge on its predecessor, mostly because Janet doesn’t actually show up until the end of the second Ant-Man film, and most of her flashbacks with Hank were cut out of the movie anyway. Scott and Hope share the spotlight (and the title-card) in Ant-Man And The Wasp, which focuses almost entirely on their relationship – and their exchanges of playful, witty banter, coupled with their fidelity and focus on family, make them one of the most endearing couples in the MCU.

3: Steve Rogers & Peggy Carter.

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Specifically, their relationship in the first three Captain America films, before Avengers: Endgame happened. In the beginning, scrawny new recruit Steve Rogers and fast-talking, no-nonsense commanding officer Peggy Carter were actually quite a sweet pairing: they both had character arcs, and agency in their own stories. There was a quaint little 1940’s love story between them, but Peggy, by virtue of being in the military, wasn’t forced to play the damsel-in-distress or grieving-girlfriend-on-the-home-front roles: and in the post-war era, after Steve went down in the frigid Antarctic Ocean and was lost, she picked up her life and moved on, founding S.H.I.E.L.D. and starting a family. Her relationship with Steve after his resurrection from the ice was deeply emotional and interesting, and it was tragic when she passed away. But then to essentially reverse all the complexities of their post-The First Avenger relationship by having Steve go back in time and start all over with her, making her essentially a consolation prize for Steve after he failed to move on with his life, thus preventing her from moving on with hers? No, just no.

2: Tony Stark & Virginia “Pepper” Potts.

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They’re the MCU’s original duo: how could they not come in near the top of the list? Tony was a sarcastic, cynical mess of a human being; a war-profiteer who didn’t care one iota about the countless people killed daily by his weapons of mass destruction; Pepper was the very opposite, a cool, collected woman with savvy business skills and a friendly disposition. It’s a trope, and a tired one at that. But their relationship evolved into so much more than that – Tony became Iron Man, and Pepper took over as CEO of Stark Industries. They constructed the Avengers Tower in New York City. In the five years after Avengers: Infinity War, they got married and had a daughter. In Avengers: Endgame, where they even got to fight in battle alongside each other, their decade-long relationship came to an end with Tony Stark’s tragic death. In that final moment, as the former “Merchant of Death” gave up his life to save the world, Pepper stayed beside him and her face was the last thing he ever saw. I’m not crying: you’re crying.

1: Leopold Fitz & Jemma Simmons.

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Yes, I cheated! Fitz and Simmons, or “Fitzsimmons” as they’re more commonly known among the fandom, are not technically members of the MCU: they come from the Marvel TV division, where they made their debut on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and have endured through six grueling, torturous seasons of hardship, personal loss, tragedy and pure, wholesome romance. While they started out as the team’s two bumbling, socially-awkward scientists, it didn’t take long before the universe’s vendetta against them resulted in them standing up for S.H.I.E.L.D., and for each other, in incredible ways. Their tense, frantic struggle to figure their way out of an airtight box at the bottom of the ocean (long story) was one of the highlights of Season 1, as it showed just how powerful the two are as a team – so of course they were then split up. Jemma became an undercover spy, got eaten by a space monolith, was transported to another planet and had to survive on her own, fell in love with an astronaut who turned into an evil alien god, was possessed by the Kree, was possibly hinted to be bisexual (come on, we all know she had a thing for Daisy), and even met and defeated the demonic personification of her self-doubt: Leo lost his ability to communicate for a long period of time and became delusional, was possibly hinted to be bisexual (come on, we all know he had a thing for Mac), became a dashing secret agent, met his evil HYDRA doppelganger, fell in love with HYDRA’s cyborg overlord, and then got stuck in two different time-periods at once, which resulted in him dying but still being alive and yet somehow a space pirate in both timelines…it’s a wacky and confusing series, but their love for each other, which persists even against all odds, has always been at the heart of the story, and I would be lying if I didn’t say they’re the most romantic couple in what used to technically be part of (or at least adjacent to) the MCU.

So what do you think of my top ten, and would you have chosen differently? Did I leave your favorite couple off my list? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Marvel’s Ghost Returning? Thunderbolts Explained!

It’s time for another Marvel theory! (I feel like I randomly make up times for Marvel theories because I don’t actually have a well-defined schedule for anything: well, we’ll say today is MCU Theory Saturday).

For today’s theory, we’re looking at some interesting comments made recently by Ant-Man And The Wasp actress Hannah John-Kamen (star of Netflix’s new series, The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance): the actress hinted coyly that her Marvel character, Ghost, might make an unexpected return to the big screen. Obviously, she can’t reveal too much about details – she mentioned that signing a contract with Marvel is like taking a blood oath not to spoil anything – but her words have already sparked a fair amount of debate among Marvel fans over where the quantum-phasing antihero could show up again.

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Some speculate that John-Kamen could be referring to a voice-acting role in the upcoming animated Disney+ series What If…?, which will explore 23 alternate timelines branching out from each of the 23 Marvel Cinematic Universe films: presumably, the Ant-Man And The Wasp episode will feature at least a bit part for Ghost, who was the central antagonist of the 2017 summer blockbuster. But that’s too easy an answer for me: I like a little more substance to my theories, so I’m going to say that, even if Ghost does show up there, there could be another place for the villain-turned-heroine to make an appearance – and in the main Marvel timeline, at that.

Over and over, for the past year or two, we’ve seen rumors that Marvel is considering a film (or even film franchise) based off the Thunderbolts or Dark Avengers comic runs, two relatively similar stories that could easily be merged into one cohesive whole. In Thunderbolts, the one most likely to be adapted, a group of reformed villains and antiheroes comes together, sometimes under the leadership of Norman Osborn, sometimes under Helmut Zemo (who has already shown up once in the MCU, and will return in Falcon And The Winter Soldier next year). to sell their services to government organizations: lots of chaos results, as some of them revert back to their villainous ways, backhanded deals get made, and political mayhem erupts in their wake. The actual team roster has been pretty fluid throughout the years, but one notable iteration (Osborn’s Thunderbolts) included Ghost. Since Norman Osborn is a Sony character, and Sony isn’t sharing with Marvel anymore, it looks like Zemo could take his place as leader of the team, with no problems. Other Thunderbolts members have also been featured in the MCU already, but in bit parts, such as Justin Hammer, and Thaddeus Ross (the human alias of Red Hulk). Yelena Belova and Taskmaster, both of whom will make their MCU debuts in next year’s Black Widow, are also key members of the comic team.

It’s always a tricky business, handling villains and antiheroes and trying to make them sympathetic, but Marvel has done a pretty good job in their movies of achieving this: Ghost, for instance, was originally Ava Starr, who was debilitated by a condition that made her body literally fade in and out of existence and visibility – something which also allowed her to walk through walls and disappear from sight. While Ghost’s condition was at least temporarily healed by Janet Van Dyne and her Quantum Realm powers, it seems that she wasn’t fully cured by the end of Ant-Man And The Wasp, since the whole reason that Scott Lang went microscopic and got trapped in the Quantum Realm for five years was because he was looking for more antidote for her. She and her guardian, Bill Foster, haven’t been seen since, but John-Kamen confirmed that Ghost, at least, never died. Whether she was snapped by Thanos is unknown: it’s possible that she survived, and had to endure five more years of her excruciating pain – perhaps she’s been driven back to her dark ways, and is once again wreaking havoc? How long did she hold out hope for Lang’s return? Where is she now? All these questions could be answered in a Thunderbolts movie.

Then again, maybe she’s going to have a role in the third Ant-Man film: however, as of right now, there actually isn’t a third Ant-Man film, so…that’s a bit of an obstacle. Personally, if there is an Ant-Man 3, I hope that we get to see one of Marvel’s craziest villains (and another part-time Thunderbolts member), Gypsy Moth, on the big screen, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Ghost show up again, whether as an antagonist or in a supporting role.

How would you feel about Ghost returning to the MCU as a semi-reformed villain? Could Marvel pull off a Thunderbolts movie? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Avengers: Endgame Trailer 3!

The end of the MCU as we know it is almost upon us, and we have our first full length trailer for the movie that will bring it all crashing down into ruin and despair. Blood will be shed, heroes will die, Natasha Romanoff’s hair will change color again. Very few of our questions about this movie have been answered by this tantalizing teaser, which is the way I like it: honestly, I think at this point we don’t even need another trailer for Avengers: Endgame – the less we know, the more we are excited to find out.

So here it is! The trailer is so atmospheric, so dark – the opening scenes are black and white flashbacks to previous MCU movies: Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Thor. Voice-over is provided by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). The first new shot in this trailer is at 0:38, and here we see Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) training a girl with a bow and arrow. Fans were quick to jump to the conclusion that this girl was none other than superheroine Kate Bishop, an archer from the comics who ends up taking the name Hawkeye herself. However, it seems more likely she is Hawkeye’s daughter, Lila Barton. Whoever she is, though, I have no doubt that she and the rest of Hawkeye’s family (who can be seen in the background) will be dusted in this scene, and this is where we’ll see the lovable archer’s transformation into the grim, sword-wielding, mohawk-wearing assassin that he is in the very next shot, at 0:43, where we see him meeting Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Here, he is Ronin, one of his darker aliases from the comics. Something to note about this scene is that he and Black Widow hold hands – could we see them get back together? Clearly, there are still some romantic feelings between the two. (And I’m here for it – those two were made for each other, and no one can tell me otherwise).

At 1:12, after a heartbreaking montage of characters from Avengers: Infinity War being turned to dust, we see Black Widow’s new look – her hair has grown out quite a bit, and looks quite good, part red, part blond. The fact that it’s grown so long, though, is reason for us to believe that some time has passed between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Some have speculated there could be a five-year gap between the two movies.

Blink and you’ll miss Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) at 1:14. This poor guy, who was sidelined in Avengers: Infinity War, definitely needs more screentime to make up for that – but so far, we’ve seen very little of him, and no hint of whether he can transform into the Hulk yet.

Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) shows up for the first time in the trailer at 1:18, staring in bewilderment at posters that read MISSING. Last we saw Ant-Man, in Ant-Man And The Wasp, he was trapped inside the Quantum Realm: I believe this is just after he’s escaped, and he’s come back to find half of the world’s population missing – possibly including his own daughter, Cassie Lang: though others speculate that Cassie will be in Endgame, played by Emma Fuhrmann, and will be a superhero in her own right.

At 1:21, we see the Avengers’ Quinjet flying over New York City: interestingly, in the previous teaser we saw NYC looking very dark and lifeless, but here there are city lights shining.

Black Widow and Hawkeye still look pretty close in the next shot: seriously, can these two just GET BACK TOGETHER ALREADY?

Unfortunately, Hawkeye seems to be in danger: we see him running down a tunnel filled with fluorescent red light, running through water – and then suddenly the tunnel is filled with an explosion of fire. I don’t know how he’s going to make it out of that situation, or why he’s even in that situation to begin with, but I’m terrified for him.

1:29 shows us two old friends: Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and War Machine (Don Cheadle). They seem to be gearing up for war. Rocket’s interactions with the other Avengers is something I’m looking forward to – I can only imagine how serious characters like Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Black Widow will deal with him.

Speaking of Steve, he looks pretty surprised to see Hawkeye in the next shot: granted, I would be too, if I saw someone with that haircut. I’m not sure exactly why losing his family would inspire Hawkeye to cut his hair into the ridiculous style, but, I mean, you do you, Clint.

In quick succession, we see Ant-Man at Avengers HQ (looking less than cheery), Thor powering up Stormbreaker, and Nebula (Karen Gillan) charging into a fight with a battle-cry: could she be taking vengeance on her father, Thanos, for what he did to Gamora (Zoe Saldana) in Avengers: Infinity War? I can’t imagine how she’ll take him on, since he’s armed with the Infinity Gauntlet, and she’s got…batons. But she is pretty formidable – though I’m not sure if she could top her incredible entrance in the third act of Infinity War, where she literally drove a spaceship straight into Thanos (which, by the way, didn’t even slow him down: Nebula, you gonna die).

Hawkeye’s back in the tunnel at 1:39, now wielding his bow again – somehow, I can’t imagine he’s facing off against Thanos in this scene (the tunnel doesn’t seem large enough to fit the gigantic purple Titan, first of all), but if not, then who is he up against? There have been rumors circulating for months that Thanos won’t be the main villain in Avengers: Endgame, or that he might even team up with the Avengers against another threat. Could Hawkeye be coming face to face with some greater villain? (And if so, will he make it out alive? Armed with a bow? Yeah, no.)

There’s a scene from the previous teaser of Black Widow target-shooting: though again, when does this scene take place? Here, she has long, fully blond hair.

At 1: 44, we have Steve Rogers, fully geared-up in the Captain America suit, looking very angry about something. Please, let it not be that Tony Stark has just died. I can’t take that kind of pain. I know that somebody has to die, but just…let it be, like, I don’t know, Drax. Oh wait, he’s already dead. Well, just, don’t take Tony Stark or Steve Rogers, please!

This shot of Steve is followed by a clip of a very tiny Ant-Man leaping through a bizarre landscape that seems to be composed of…a pencil, water, and a power-cord? I have no idea where he is, but if I had to bet, I’d guess either of two things: one, most likely to me, is that this is at the beginning of the film, and we’re seeing Ant-Man escaping from the Quantum Realm. Two, less likely I think, but more terrifying, is that this some weird fight sequence where Thanos is wielding the Reality Stone – which, if you remember from Infinity War, had the power to transform bullets into bubbles, among other things. Either way, things don’t look good for Ant-Man.

Finally, the money-shot of the Avengers walking (destination: unknown) in their new Quantum-Realm suits. The suits are fantastic, and look great. Steve is leading them, and behind him are Tony Stark, Black Widow, Nebula, Ant-Man, War Machine, and Hawkeye – I think Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is behind Black Widow too, though it’s kind of hard to tell. They look absolutely great, and this seems to confirm the theory that the Avengers would be going into the Quantum Realm – or back in time – to try and reverse the Snap that wiped out half the population of the universe. Some think they’ll be going back even further than that, to the Battle of New York from the first Avengers, for instance, and this would seem to be backed up by the fact that Steve Rogers is wearing his old Captain America suit in the shot at 1:44.

The title – Avengers: Endgame lights up in brilliant purple, and the screen goes black. Is the trailer over? No, wait, I don’t think so…

Thor is walking towards a woman who has her back turned. She turns to face us – CAROL DANVERS! Yes, Carol Danvers, a.k.a Captain Marvel, (Brie Larson) is here, in Avengers HQ, and, boy, does she look fantastic or what? She stares back at Thor steadily as he extends his hand past her shoulder, testing her reflexes: his axe, Stormbreaker, flies into his hand.

Carol just barely flinches, and glances down at Stormbreaker with some curiosity.

Thor grins. “I like this one”, he says, and the screen goes black.

Just from that one scene, I already know Thor and Carol’s dynamic will be one of the best parts of this movie: Carol’s new wardrobe, also, looks to be pretty snazzy – she looks quite glamorous. I wonder if they’ll be friends, or perhaps…more than friends?

Okay, so April 26th needs to just arrive now, so that I can see this movie. I’ve got a lot of questions, like, why isn’t Thanos shown or even mentioned in the trailer – he also was absent from the second teaser, and only his armor was seen in the first teaser. What is the plan that the Avengers have for bringing back half the population? Will they time travel – where to, or when to? How do Tony and Nebula go from “lost in space” to “wearing fancy new outfits, walking alongside the other Avengers on earth”? What is going on?

And do Hawkeye and Black Widow end up together?

Trailer Rating: 10/10

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