Super-powered people have problems too. Like non-magical humans, Marvel movie characters struggle with love, and bicker with their siblings. Their relationships are what show their true character and keep their humanity (or empathy, if they’re gods) in check. When you’re all that stands in the way of Earth’s potential annihilation, you’ve got to have some decent emotional intelligence. Of course, some pairings are stronger than others.
While love interests like Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter were teased from their very first MCU appearance, other Marvel characters were lumped together with no compatibility whatsoever. Yes, we’re talking about Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff. With more romances, bromances and other groupings coming in Marvel’s next phase, it’s time to take stock of the ones we love, the ones we hate, and the ones just don’t understand at all.
In a very particular order, here’s every major Marvel relationship, ranked from worst to best.
21. Clint and Laura Barton (Jeremy Renner and Linda Cardellini)
This lesser-known couple is one of the few remaining couples post-Endgame. Clint first appeared in Thor, and from there continued (if we’re being honest) to be the most underwhelming of all the Avengers. Fans didn’t get to know much of his family or backstory until Avengers: Age of Ultron, where we met his wife Laura, and then Infinty War, when we got a look at their kids. Clint managed to hide them away in a safehouse back during Avengers: Age of Ultron with the help of Nick Fury. Clint’s entire family disintegrated after Thanos’ snap, but they returned in Avengers: Endgame. Clint and Laura’s relationship looks to be sound, since Laura has stuck by Clint throughout the entirety of his time in the MCU. Who knows, maybe we’ll get to learn more about the couple in the upcoming Hawkeye series.
20. Stephen Strange and Christine Palmer (Benedict Cumberbatch and Rachel McAdams)
Despite being exes at the start of Doctor Strange, Stephen Strange and fellow surgeon Christine Palmer still care deeply about each other. Palmer tries in vain to help Stephen move on after his hand-damaging injury that stops him from operating on patients. Ultimately, Christine helps Stephen stay humanized, even with his new otherworldly powers. Rachel McAdams will reprise her role as Stephen’s former colleague and lover in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. And although there’s a slim chance, Kevin Feige told Entertainment Weekly could maybe one day Christine’s character could even take on a bigger role as Night Nurse, a medical professional who heals superheroes.
19. Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne (Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer)
Though the two were separated for decades, their love never faded. Fans first saw this couple in Ant-Man where an older Hank tells Scott that Janet sacrificed herself on a mission in 1987. And, though Janet was gone for over two decades, Hank never gave up looking for her.
And, because it’s Hank and he’s always right, Janet really was missing…in the quantum realm. The pair are finally reunited in Ant-Man and the Wasp, when Scott journeys into the zone and rescues Janet. You’d think that the chemistry would’ve faded after such a long period, but the two were back at it like college sweethearts. Maybe true love does last, even through a dimension where space and time doesn’t exist.
18. Natasha Romanoff and Bruce Banner (Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo)
Frankly, this relationship was a little underwhelming. Their relationship was first confirmed in Avengers: Age of Ultron (although some may say they saw the sparks earlier) when Bruce asks Natasha about her past relationships and reveals to Steve Rogers his feelings for her. After that, their romance seemed to fizzle out and by Avengers: Infinity War, their love (or maybe it was just a crush?) boiled down to an awkward greeting.
When Natasha died in Avengers: Endgame, Bruce mourned her death and even tried to bring her back, but to no avail. Thus ended the relationship that really didn’t go anywhere to begin with.
17. Peter Quill and Gamora Zen Whoberi Ben Titan (Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana)
Star-Lord was hooked on a feeling as soon as he met Gamora. Along with the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy, they defeat Ronan the Accuser in the group’s first film. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, their romance continues to blossom. At Yondu’s funeral, Gamora finally admits her feelings for Peter and they officially become a couple.
Their romance seems to be going strong in Avengers: Infinity War until her father, aka Thanos, threatens their romance (and their lives). Gamora asks Peter to do one thing for her: kill her so Thanos doesn’t find the Soul Stone and murders half the universe (reasonable ask!). But, when he tried to, Thanos turned the gun’s ammunition into bubbles. So she couldn’t. Hence her getting kidnapped by her father, where he throws her off a cliff, so he could retrieve the soul stone. You’d think that after failing to complete Gamora’s wish, he’d do everything in his power to save the universe. But this is idiotic Peter we’re talking about. And, he botches the mission of capturing Thanos when he finds out that the purple Titan murdered the love of his life.
Eventually, 2014 Gamora is returned to the 2023 timeline in Avengers: Endgame, and when Peter sees her, he freaking loses it. But 2014 Gamora isn’t in love with Star-Lord, and so the romance is over? A fair fit considering Star-Lord’s idiocy contributed to the deaths of trillions. Let’s hope in future films he stays single and miserable.
16. Okoye and W’Kabi (Danai Gurira and Daniel Kaluuya)
Rightfully, W’Kabi doesn’t deserve to be on this list, since he betrayed T’Challa and his relationship with his love. But, since we’re fans of Okoye, we’ll let it slide. There’s not many things that’ll make the leader of the Dora Milaje smile, but W’Kabi is one of them. The two have a few interactions in Black Panther, but you can clearly see the pure adoration and love on their faces. That is, until W’Kabi betrays T’Challa after the king fails to kill Ulysees Klaue.
Despite the ritual combat ending in a stalemate (as T’Challa neither yielded nor died), W’Kabi and his tribe refused to back down and fight against T’Challa and the Dora Milaje. In the midst of battle, W’Kabi, who is on his rhino, charges towards one of the Dora Milaje until Okoye nearly intercepts his attack. He stops and asks, “Would you kill me, my love?” She responds: “For Wakanda? Without question.”
And, that’s the end of their relationship. Period.
15. Thor Odinson and Jane Foster (Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman)
An arrogant Norse God and an everyday human scientist doesn’t look good on paper, but somehow works in real life. Ever since Jane met the hammer-wielding man, the spark between them was instantaneous. Does Jane overlook Thor’s multiple flaws, including him being a No. 1 jackass any sane woman would run away from? Yes. And, does Thor disregard the fact that he’s a God and she’s a human and that intergalactic relationships rarely ever work? With no doubt. And, that’s precisely why this two-movie romance failed before it really even started.
No one was shocked when Thor revealed to Loki that he dumped Jane (though, according to fans, she actually dumped him, but of course Thor is too fragile to admit that). But what did shock us was news that Jane is returning to a 4th Thor film, appropriately titled Love & Thunder. Maybe this time around the-couple-who-never-should’ve-worked finally has a chance.
14. Loki Laufeyson and Sylvie (Tom Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino)
Heads up: Loki spoilers here. It’s a little weird, but the two Lokis have a confirmed MCU romance. There’s been unspoken looks and forlorn gazes (mostly from Loki) throughout the first season of the show. In a classic enemies-to-lovers plot, Loki and Sylvie went from fighting each other, to teaming up in a quest to find the ones who took them from their original respective timelines. The two bonded over feeling like outcasts, and always being seen as the bad guy. Emotions came to a head in the season finale. After a spirited fight scene, Sylvie and Loki shared a passionate kiss before Sylvie shoved a sword into the chest of the show’s mysterious villain.
Since Loki was just confirmed for Season 2, there should be more Loki/Sylvie romance on the way.
13. Carol Danvers and Maria Rambeau (Brie Larson and Lashana Lynch)
Does your friendship last through space and time? Carol and Maria’s did. As Carol looked to reclaim her memories in Captain Marvel, she found Maria and her daughter Monica, who revealed Carol’s true origins. Despite how much time has passed, Maria and Carol fall back into step with each other and manage to unlock Carol’s full powers to defeat Yon-Rogg, her former mentor. Because the friends who get involved in intergalactic war together, stay together.
12. Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne (Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly)
Another enemies-to-lovers romance. When they first met, it’s fair to say that Hope hated Scott. In her eyes, the former criminal was less than worthy to take up her dad’s Ant-Man mantle. Hell, he couldn’t beat her in a fight where she was holding back. Though, through intense training, Scott manages to become a better fighter and earn Hope’s respect (which is no easy feat). And, by the end of Ant-Man, the ice queen slowly starts to warm up to Scott’s goofy and humorous personality.
Remember: Scott has a tragic history with romance (i.e. he’s divorced), and he botches his blooming romance with Hope by unintentionally setting the FBI on her and Hank’s trail after joining Captain America, Hawkeye, and the gang in Captain America: Civil War. She eventually forgives him when he rescues her missing mother from the quantum realm (at that point, you kinda can’t hold a grudge right?). The two are finally on good terms when she and her family are blipped from existence. Damn, these two really can’t get a break?
Luckily, Scott saves them (again), and they live happily ever after with his daughter Cassie…though some shit is probably going to go down in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (especially with you know who looming as the villain).
11. Peter Parker and Michelle “MJ” Jones (Tom Holland and Zendaya Coleman)
Although his sights were on classmate Liz in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter Parker is now all about MJ. In Far From Home, he struggles to reveal his feelings for her until the end of the film, when MJ admits she knows his secret identity. When Parker returns to New York and defeats Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), he and MJ officially become a couple. Like most high school relationships, these two may not last forever, but for now, they’re still a cute pairing. They just have the whole….Spider-Man’s identity being revealed by J. Jonah Jameson and impending multiverse thing to deal with for now.
10. Tony Stark and James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Robert Downey Jr. and Terrence Howard/Don Cheadle)
What’s so great about this relationship is that it is built on honesty. Rhodey was never afraid to call Tony on his bullshit, and that’s why Rhodey made the perfect best friend for the playboy. In Iron Man 2, when a dying Tony was being reckless and rash with his life, Rhodey rightfully slapped the mess out of him and stole one of his suits. Just what the doctor ordered, huh?
And, this relationship isn’t one-sided either. When Rhodey was injured in Captain America: Civil War, a distraught Tony sought revenge on the Falcon for disabling his friend. Tony will probably never admit it, but he loves Rhodey. There’s not many people that this genius, philanthropist, playboy, and billionaire cares about, but this U.S. Air Force officer is one of them.
9. Gamora Zen Whoberi Ben Titan and Nebula (Zoë Saldana and Karen Gillan)
These two have been battling it out since they were kids. Since Gamora always beat Nebula in battle, the sisters had a longstanding rivalry that revived itself in Guardians of the Galaxy. Nebula followed both Ronan and Thanos’ biddings in the first film, doing anything she could to undermine Gamora. Eventually, the two reach an uneasy alliance when they realize their common enemy: their adoptive father, Thanos.
Their relationship was a backdrop for Peter Quill’s own daddy issues, but still an integral part of Gamora’s character. More importantly, their relationship was the perfect introduction to Thanos, a guy so evil even his own kids want him dead.
8. Peter Parker and Ned Leeds (Tom Holland and Jacob Batalon)
This is the best MCU bromance and no one can tell us otherwise. The relationship between these two high schoolers is genuine—Ned loved Peter before he was Spider-Man and he’ll love him long afterwards too. And, Ned isn’t afraid to help the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man every now and then. Ned distracted some highschoolers so Peter could escape and change in Avengers: Infinity War, and he did his best to keep Peter’s identity a secret in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Ned was also there for Peter when the superhero was mourning his late mentor, Tony Stark. Whenever he needs Ned, the superhero’s best friend is always there for him, unconditionally. What a guy.
7. Bucky Barnes and Sarah Wilson (Sebastian Stan and Adepero Oduye)
When Bucky met Sam’s sister in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, fans jumped at the chance to ship the two (we did too). Naturally, Sam was against the pair from the beginning, saying, “Don’t flirt with my sister.” But when has Bucky ever played by the rules? Although their interactions were brief, Bucky always had a smile when he saw Lisa, and was more than happy to help Sam fix he and Sarah’s family boat.
Now that Sam is officially the next Captain America, we hope to see more of Sarah. And Bucky. Especially if they’re together.
6. Bruce Banner and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)
Although Bruce may have had a little crush on Natasha, his most important relationship throughout the Avengers films was between himself and the Hulk. The big green man and the good doctor rarely saw eye to eye. In Avengers: Infinity War, Bruce struggles to turn into Hulk, possibly because of his own psyche, but also because the Hulk realizes Banner only wants to use him for his own gains. By Endgame, Hulk and Banner have reconciled and merged into one to make Professor Hulk.
5. Loki Laufeyson and Thor Odinson (Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth)
Even Norse gods struggle to get along with their siblings. Since Thor, the God of Thunder and the God of Mischief have bickered and battled it out on Earth and Asgard. In the definition of a love/hate relationship, the two were close growing up, but Loki was always jealous of Thor and grew to resent him. This resulted in Loki constantly seeking to control Asgard and/or Midgard, as seen in his vie for power in Avengers.
The two are at times enemies and other times allies, like when they fought together against Malekith in Thor: The Dark World, and against each other (and against Hela) in Thor: Ragnarok. They combine forces one last time in Avengers: Infinity War, when Loki is presumed dead when Thanos viciously snaps Loki’s neck. Of course, as we know now, the God of Mischief still lives! And will be back in season 2 of Loki.
4. T’Challa and Nakia (Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong’o)
Nakia is the only woman that can make King T’Challa freeze (though he’ll never admit that). Fans first met this pair when T’Challa “rescues” Nakia from a group of human traffickers. We use the word “rescue” lightly as it’s eventually revealed that Nakia purposefully kidnapped herself, so she could rescue hundreds of women from the aforementioned traffickers. Talk about a badass woman. But, what’s great about their relationship isn’t the fact that Nakia’s one hell of a fighter or how T’Challa’s the GOAT, but rather how the two still have love for each other, despite them being exes.
T’Challa was pretty heartbroken after his father’s death in Captain America: Civil War. And, despite Nakia leaving T’Challa sometime prior, she still returned to Wakanda to help mend her love’s battered and broken soul (cue the ooh’s and aah’s, please). Despite this, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like MCU’s first Black couple will survive as Chadwick Boseman, the actor who played T’Challa, died last year. Even if Nakia and T’Challa are no more, their love will forever remain in our hearts and minds.
3. Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter (Chris Evans and Hayley Atwell)
The first Avenger stole our hearts with this romance. Through his transformation from a scrawny average Joe to jacked superhero, S.H.I.E.L.D. Secret Agent Peggy Carter believed in him the whole time. By the end of his origin tale, Steve sacrificed himself by crashing an airplane into the sea, leaving Peggy behind (with a standing dance date).
But the shield-wielding, Nazi-fighting Avenger didn’t let anything, even Thanos, stop him from returning to Peggy. At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Steve tied up any loose ends in the 21st century, then time-traveled back to the 1940s to live a full life with Peggy. He survives as an old man up to the present day of Endgame, where he returns to pass his shield and the Captain America mantle to Sam Wilson.
2. Tony Stark and Pepper Potts (Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow)
Playboy, Billionaire, Genius, Philanthropist. The last person you’d expect him to end up with is his badass assistant turned CEO Pepper Potts, who’s always busy, but somehow makes time to keep Tony in check.
Since Iron Man, Potts has been there for Tony (well, she was paid to do so, but fans know she loved cleaning up his messes). This couple has surely had their ups-and-downs. Diehard fans remember how Pepper broke Tony’s heart before Captain America: Civil War. But, of course, a few movies later, they’re back together (and engaged too!). The first romance of the MCU ended beautifully—they got married, had a child, and lived happily ever after…until Tony died, sacrificing his life to defeat Thanos and bring trillions back from the Blip.
1. Wanda Maximoff and Vision (Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany)
The newborn robot and the “weird” witch somehow make one of the best MCU couples. Maybe it’s because Wanda, who has gone through more trauma and death than most folks in their life, needs a bit of sunshine? Or, perhaps, it’s Vision’s willingness to always put Wanda first, despite only knowing her for, like, a few months? Regardless, we can’t help but love this unlikely pair in WandaVision.
The relationship first blossomed during the events of Captain America: Civil War, when Vision helped Wanda cope with her grief over her brother’s death (in the movie we saw them cooking together a little bit; a WandaVision flashback showed a deeper conversation). That single moment sparked a love story so strong it produced its own TV show. Though Vision’s death complicated a few things, we’re confident that MCU’s signature robot and witch will end up together soon.
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