It's an ongoing joke that fans of anything geeky (D&D, comic books, video games, sci-fi, runes, mythology, The History Channel) lacks a love life. You know the stereotype. So, is it coincidence that some of the very best couples are found in the geek genre? Are they trying to let all those lonely nerds get a glimpse of the good life? Or is it just that uncertain futures, alternate universes, galaxies far far away, or splash page bound stories lend themselves to bigger and gutsier stories? After all, sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero stories tend to break gender barriers in all sorts of ways. Women were packing superpowers and weapons in genre stories a lot sooner than they were on big or small screens.
As to why that is, maybe it has something to do with the origin of sci-fi, fantasy, and comic books. Sci-fi, comics, and fantasy inherited the old mythologies of Homer and King Arthur, where people expected great highs and lows to everything their heroes and heroines did. If lovers weren't tragically separated or punished for their sins, and there wasn't a lot of sword fighting and slaughter in between, then everyone was bored. Nowadays, you can't have heroes who are gone for decades and battle trolls unless you're in a particular section of Blockbuster or Barnes and Noble, because it's just not thought to be very serious stuff. (Unless you're a literature professor. Then you know better.)
I also think the Golden Age of Hollywood played a little part. It's no coincidence that Batman, Superman, and Captain America were born at the same time, and I think you see a lot of tonal similarity. Everything's little bigger, a little more dramatic, and a lot more breathtaking. But Hollywood left that behind, whereas comic books (even if they took a similar turn towards the dark and edgy) have continued to hold onto that mindset. I don't want to say it's an innocent view of the world, but it's certainly a more imaginative one where it can happen one night, or never at all.
But I digress. This was supposed to be a light column where I praised the most delightful couples of geekdom. It's a list, not an essay wondering what their true and misty origins might be. I'm just trying to justify why you often find cooler and more complex couples here than in any romantic comedy, action flick, or drama. Someday I'll prove it has something to do with Katharine Hepburn or Humphrey Bogart, but for now, let's just smile over them, shall we?
1. Superman and Lois Lane
They're not ranked #1 because they're the best, but because they're the definitive superhero couple. Once Superman grew up and moved to Metropolis, there was only one woman for him, and that was Lois. For decades this was a triangle of hijinks as he courted her as Clark Kent, constantly kept his identity from her, and was forced to watch (and often laugh) as she openly preferred the studly man in blue and red. Eventually, Lois did learn his identity and Superman realized mutual trust can be a pretty sexy thing. I don't know what Lois learned. Never discount the guy in glasses, perhaps?
2. Han and Leia
There's been a lot of concern from men and women that Twilight is leading girls to nourish dangerous and unrealistic expectations of "the bad boy." For some of us, this already happened in 1980 and we've been cherishing dreams of a scoundrel ever since. Of course, Han was never really all that bad. So he liked profit! Big deal. He turned around and did the right thing for the Rebellion, and clearly always had an eye for the way Leia could command troops. We could all use a scoundrel like that in our lives.
3. Aragorn and Arwen
Their relationship is a bittersweet one, which makes it all the more romantic. Aragorn is forced to wait decades before he can enjoy any happiness with Arwen. She has to sacrifice her family and her immortality to be with him -- and if you've read The Silmarillion, you know that there's an even darker and more uncertain edge to that decision. But it's love. You have to take the plunge, even if Middle Earth is burning around you.
4. Wolverine and Jean Grey
You can retcon him a dozen Japanese wives and hook him up with every female in the Marvel Universe, but it'll never diminish his tragic love for the one woman he can't really have, and often has to stab to death. Love hurts, to put it mildly.
5. Jesse Custer and Tulip O'Hare
Preacher hasn't made it to a big screen yet, but it will, and then every woman in America can be jealous of Tulip O'Hare. (Well, kind of -- who wants her addictions?) If you're going to have a boyfriend who is possessed with the Word of God, you want one who has good old-fashioned values, talks to John Wayne, and can deliver a good punch. And if your a man possessed with the Word of God, you need a gun-toting, Sgt. Rock reading girl like Tulip at your side. Their relationship is one of the most rocky in comic book history, but that's what makes it real and quite enviable.
6. King Leonidas and Queen Gorgo
Historical figures in a geek list? Yes, because the real Gorgo and Leonidas are essentially lost to history and probably weren't much of a love match. (He was her half-uncle, and probably twice her age.) Zack Snyder spun quite the leather-ripping romance between them in 300 -- though it must be said that even in the Boy's Own Frank Miller original, Leonidas died uttering words to his queen. Even if you hate the movie, you have to love their steely parting scene. Come back with your shield, or on it!
7. Willow and Tara
It pains me that this list is so very, very straight. These two may be from the small screen, but they became so iconic that it's a shame the big screen hasn't managed to keep up. I mean, people cried when Whedon parted them forever and ever, which is more than you can say about a lot of modern romances. I'm putting them at 7 not to diminish their importance, but in the hopes that it'll act as a lucky number for other fictional geek couples.
8. Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor (who is being played here by Nathan Fillion)
Wonder Woman is the epitome of the single, successful, and independent superheroine. But once upon a time, she did have a love interest and his name was Steve Trevor. He was a WW2 pilot who crashed on Paradise Island, and was rescued by Princess Diana. She nursed him back to health, and followed him into the outside world where she took up the job as Wonder Woman. She also took up her secret identity of meek and mild Diana Prince, with Trevor unaware his kickass Amazon girlfriend was also his put upon coworker. Their entire relationship was Superman and Lois in reverse -- but with the added kick of Wonder Woman having to save him all the time. Trevor loved her because she was powerful and independent, and was never threatened by her intervention. It was radical for the time. Can you see it on a big screen today?
9. Zoe and Wash
Like Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, Zoe and Wash neatly reversed gender roles. She was the battle-scarred warrior who could handle herself in a fight, and Wash was a gentle man who played with dinosaurs. He was pretty calm about that wide gulf, though jealousy occasionally reared its ugly head. Nevertheless, I'm convinced they were in it for the long haul if it wasn't for that cruel hearted Joss Whedon.
10. Batman and Robin
Come on. He's never committed to anyone else. Not Catwoman, not Vicki Vale, not anyone. Platonic or not, Robin will always be the one constant in Batman's life. And I'm only half joking.
There's a lot more than ten, but I can't risk your eyeballs falling out. I'll let you list your favorites in the comments, and chide me for any I may have missed -- and for making Batman and Robin #10.