- There are many romances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- Fans love Tony Stark and Pepper Potts.
- Other relationships, like the one between Jane Foster and Thor, aren’t so beloved.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories
In the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the movies were more formulaic. There was a bad guy, there was an origin story, and there was a love interest.
Some of those movies sparked engrossing romances, like Captain America and Peggy Carter, or Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, whose stories stretch across multiple films. But there were also many duds, like Jane Foster and Thor, and the unfortunate will they/won’t they between Black Widow and Bruce Banner in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
Thankfully as the MCU has gone on and gotten more experimental, the characters are more important than the formula. And with that, we’ve gotten some engrossing and interesting relationships.
Here are all the MCU romances, ranked.
Bruce Banner and Betty Ross barely left an impact.
Despite its disastrous plot and casting of Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, “The Incredible Hulk,” which came out in 2008, is still MCU canon.
Bruce Banner and Betty Ross, played by Liv Tyler, kiss in the rain and carry the film with their romance. But ultimately it’s dull, and forgettable because people within the MCU and outside of it truly do not remember this was a thing at all.
Thor and Jane Foster just didn’t have chemistry.
The early MCU films are very formulaic superhero movies. Each movie has a villain, a hero figuring out his powers (because they were all men), and the woman he falls in love with among all the action.
Unfortunately, Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman’s chemistry just isn’t there. It’s ham-fisted and prevents the first two Thor films from getting into more interesting elements like Thor and Loki’s relationship, Nordic lore, and the epic space adventure that makes “Thor: Ragnarok” so fun.
The romance between Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) and Bruce Banner (Hulk) was poorly written.
This tragically forced romance could have worked – as a romantic pairing, Romanoff and Banner make sense for many reasons. But instead of waiting for their chemistry to bring them together naturally, “Age of Ultron” writer Joss Whedon forced it into the screenplay.
And now, what could have been one of the better MCU romances is one that all other MCU movies ignore, minus a great scene in “Thor: Ragnarok,” which uses a video of Natasha to bring Hulk back to Banner after two years.
Stephen Strange and Christine Palmer’s romance was simply a distraction.
Rachel McAdams is an angel, but this romance doesn’t belong in the movie. The movie’s plot could have existed without the romance and without her character entirely. In fact, the film was criticised for how poorly written and ultimately useless she was.
Steve Rogers (Captain America) and Sharon Carter’s romance felt a little icky.
Cap deserves another great love after Peggy Carter, but can it please not be Peggy Carter’s niece? Thankfully this was a very brief romance: Cap and Sharon kiss once, and it’s weird, and we haven’t seen the character since.
Peter Parker and Liz’s romance brought humility to the movie’s villain.
The romance in “Homecoming” was clearly never going to last. But unlike other romances in MCU movies that introduce a new superhero, this one has an impact. Peter has a crush on Liz, and it’s used to comedic effect until Peter realises that Liz’s father is the film’s villain, Vulture (Michael Keaton).
This brings some humanity to Vulture for both Peter and the audience and results in one of the film’s best scenes.
Wanda Maximoff and Vision drive the plot forward.
Wanda and Vision’s romance isn’t necessary, but it makes sense: both get their powers from the Mind Stone. Their relationship makes the stakes in “Infinity War” heightened because Wanda must destroy the Mind Stone to stop Thanos, which means she must destroy Vision.
While they don’t have the most engrossing romance in film history or even within the MCU, their love does add tension and more emotional investment in them as individuals.
Clint and Laura Barton’s relationship isn’t particularly noteworthy.
We don’t know much about Clint and Laura’s relationship, but they have a lot of kids and Lara seems chill with his risky job that means he travels a lot. Their love might not be the most electric in the MCU, but it is certainly the most stable and realistic.
Gamora and Peter Quill (Star Lord) are an interesting pair.
An arrogant human in space and the adopted daughter of one of the greatest villains in the universe is an unexpected pairing. And it sort of works, but the MCU would likely be the same if Peter and Gamora were platonic. The romance worked in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, but “Infinity War” relied on their connection so much that it revealed itself as a little flimsy and manufactured for the narrative.
Scott Lang (Ant-Man) and Hope Van Dyne (The Wasp) have great chemistry.
Scott and Hope are polar opposites. Scott is a rebel and an actual criminal, and Hope is more Type A. Hope is sceptical of Scott at first but it grows into a flirtation.
A part of Hope still kind of hates Scott, but Ant-Man and the Wasp still make an excellent team as heroes and as a couple because Scott respects her and knows she is better than him (in a lot of ways).
T’Challa and Nakia’s romance is strong even though it’s in the past.
T’Challa and Nakia’s romance is one of the best in the MCU, even though it barely exists within “Black Panther.” Their entire romance exists in the past (though they’re definitely still into each other and it shows).
Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyongo’s chemistry is effortless, and it adds many layers to their stories within the movie and outside of it – Nakia’s absence from “Infinity War” was a bummer.
Captain America and Bucky don’t have a traditional relationship.
While Steve and Bucky’s friendship isn’t romantic in the same way as other couples in the MCU, they have a romantic friendship that is, in many ways, the heart of the MCU. Steve’s bond with Bucky drives him and keeps him fighting for what’s right, so it makes the list.
Okoye and W’kabi’s relationship is an important one.
Okoye and Wakabi don’t have much screen time in “Black Panther,” but their relationship is important because it gives us depth to characters outside Wakanda’s royal family – and specifically, the conflict the characters face when Killmonger arrives.
W’Kabi betrays T’Challa in favour of Killmonger, and Okoye does not tolerate that. Eventually, he comes around, and she realises her feelings for W’Kabi haven’t gone away. By the end of the movie all is well, and there is even a deleted scene from the movie that confirms Okoye and W’Kabi are married. Though marriage is hard, they have certainly proven they can make it through anything.
Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Pepper Potts are the heart of the MCU.
Tony and Pepper’s clever, quick banter made people fall in love with them as a couple and with the MCU since their romance started to bloom in the very first movie, “Iron Man.” Since then, Tony and Pepper have had some ups and confusing downs (like when they’re not speaking in “Captain America: Civil War”), but ultimately, they’re always drawn back to each other.
Not only are Tony and Pepper a lot of fun, but unlike many of the other romantic leads in these movies, Pepper is layered and serves a great purpose. She is, after all, the person who convinced Tony that he needs to participate in S.H.E.I.L.D.’s Avengers initiative. They make each other better and work as a team.
Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter have an iconic love.
Steve and Peggy have the best romance in the MCU, and it’s definitely because Peggy Carter is a well-written, fully realised character who isn’t just a romantic partner for the hero. She’s smart, ambitious, and her relationship with Steve develops on-screen in an organic way over an understandable period of time that never feels rushed.
Steve’s love for Peggy consumes him in many ways – one of the most tragic things about him is that he knows he could have had a life with her. Cap’s love for Peggy dominates his arc in the MCU, and it plays a pivotal role in “Endgame.”
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