When you pick up a Marvel comic, what do you expect? Super soldier serums, gamma radiation, and some random hookups? After all, romantic relationships have provided some of the comic legend's greatest moments and greatest jaw drops.
When you wrangle a large cast of characters through one of the longest-running continuous stories ever written, you have an unpredictable romance.
Since the early 1960s, soap opera elements have been key to Marvel Comics' story of ordinary people achieving the extraordinary. However, these decades and a variety of artists have meant that for every Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, there are a few exceptions.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn't had as much time to study the complex relationships of the comics on Earth-616. That may be because it's been robbed of as many awkward attempts as long lasting romances. Grab some roses for the MCU's love that has so far denied us and our favorite superheroes.
Thor and She-Hulk: Thor and She-Hulk
The two Avengers took some time off from battling Dark Celestials to kiss and then date in the Savage Land. Their flirtation took a while to reach an agreement, although it's hard to see how that might extend to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Thundergod is deep in an intergalactic conflict with his adopted daughter, while She-Hulk is Earth-bound. Jen Walters may be looking for love after a series of bad luck, but her greatest chance for a match-maker, Bruce Banner, is also off-planet. It's difficult to sum up as an intellectual match.
Jessica Jones and Scott Lang
Alias, directed by Brian Michael Bendis, was a groundbreaking series that explored what a superhero might do after returning to earth. Jessica Jones, better known as Ant-Man, went through a second career as a private investigator. Yes, she and Scott Lang were navigating the complexities of trust and Jessica's past abuse when she revealed she was pregnant with Cage's child. Jones married Cage.
Jessica from the Marvel Cinematic Universe is expected to do more, but it's doubtful that she will ever meet Lang after his tussling with Kang, let alone date him.
Tony Stark and Gamora
Despite his long-standing friendship with Pepper Potts, Tony Stark has to be at the top of the list of inter-universe romances.
Thanos' adopted daughter Gamora was one of his most unexpected pairings when he spent some time off-Earth in 2013, culminating with his return to his home planet and Pepper. Gamora may have been robbed of her relationship with Star-Lord Peter Quill, but Stark's sacrifice has put a stop to a live-action repeat, at least in the main timeline.
What If..?'s first season threw the couple together in a different situation. A missing episode explaining how the couple got to the final episode, as well as the origin of Iron Man's Sakaaran armor, might also confirm their relationship during the second season.
Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch
Wanda Maximoff's connection with Vision is permanent, impressively successful on page and screen (where the fallout was shorter than the romance) and has even outshadowed Scarlet Witch's impressive list of suitors.
Hawkeye is the focus of one of Marvel's strangest romances. Since the early 1960s, he'd had a soft spot for his mutant teammate. However, who knew that their relationship would involve him romancing a Doombot imposter or her killing him during the stormy Avengers Disassembled?
Captain Marvel & War Machine
Carol Danvers grew beyond high-profile affiliations with the likes of the original Mar-vell to become a well-known independent superhero. However, the military bonds she shares with James Rhodes have resulted in a long-running relationship in the comics, albeit with a few breaks. At one point, Marvel even had a one-night stand with Doctor Strange after Rhodes' separation.
A romance isn't beyond the realms of possibility since the pair are still active in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, they are unlikely to meet for a long time (not least because Cap spends a lot of time off-Earth), and there is a considerable age difference on-screen.
Thor and Captain America
Yes, you read that correctly, but Cap's incarnation and Thor's Jane Foster version of Thor both had the hots for each other in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Again, things look hazy for this relationship in the Marvel Cinematic Universe given the direction Jane's story took as she wrapped her romance with Thor Odinson in Thor: Love and Thunder.
After joining Iron Man's All-New, All-Different Avengers in 2015, the couple kissed, but it enthralled readers as much as its sparked their reactions.
The Winter Soldier and the Black Widow
This pairing would have made a major impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not least Black Widow's return. The comics further amplified their animosity when they introduced Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier in the early 21st century. In continuity, the pair trained Natasha Romanoff in the Soviet Union's Red Room Academy during the Cold War.
The Winter Soldier regarded their brutal conflict as further dissolution after 50 years, and their long separation forms a significant part of their bond in the comics. Widow's enhanced immune system has dramatically decreased her age since WWII, so the pair bear a lot of baggage.
Black Widow and Daredevil
Matt Murdock has an impressive romantic history in Marvel Comics. The Netflix TV series introduced his great friendship with Karen Allen, but one of his superhero romances was with Natasha Romanoff, who was also a Black Widow. In the 1970s, the Daredevil title was renamed Daredevil and the Black Widow.
Natasha is unlikely to see Daredevil again (unless she makes an impossible comeback in an event like Secret Invasion). That said, Yelena Belova is rapidly establishing herself as the new Black Widow just as the Devil of Hell's Kitchen reappears.
Tony Stark and Wasp
Given her fling with Tony Stark following her public outburst, you'd think she was a fan of unpredictable, super-intelligent Avengers. Captain America tried to rekindle her friendship with Pym, but she ended it when the diminutive superhero finally realized that Stark and Iron Man, one of her ex-husband's oldest foes, were the same person.
Tony Stark returned from a coma in 2018, sparking the problematic romance in the comics, in a distinct departure from the ongoing film series that saw Stark marry Pepper Potts during the Blip. In the current continuity, Iron Man sacrificed himself to defeat Thanos while Jane Van Dyne was trapped in the Quantum Zone for most of his life.
T'Challa & Storm
A relationship that has endured since it was struck out of the blue. In the comics, the relationship between the great Avenger and powerful mutant was retconned to develop from a childhood friendship. A Watcher even attended it as a significant event.
T'Challa has left the movie universe before Ororo Munroe had a chance to appear, let alone foster a romance, due to circumstances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Still, Storm is hard to imagine she would succeed in the movie universe without a connection to Wakanda or the long-lasting impact of her solid top-tier relationship in the comics.