Dr. Mike Robinson, UofL Communication Studies Professor~
It used to be that superhero weddings were occasions of chaos and vulnerability. In some ways, that makes sense. After all, what villain could resist all those targets gathered together in one place? This summer though, two weddings fell apart and the main culprits in both cases were “friends” of the bride.
Although Aquaman wed Mera a year earlier in Aquaman #18, the archetypal wedding came in 1965 when Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Girl tied the knot in Fantastic Four Annual #3 (1965). Reed and Sue Richard’s nuptials played out in the mighty Marvel manner when the FF’s archenemy Doctor Doom used his “high frequency emotion charger” to basically agitate every supervillain around into attacking the ceremony. While slightly silly, that Silver Age of Comics premise led to what the Marvel Universe does best as a whole host of superheroes teamed up and fought a wave of villains. The wedding ceremony became a giant crisis event.
That trend of matrimonial vulnerability continued. In Avengers #60 (1969) when Wasp agreed to marry Yellowjacket (Hank Pym, who you know better as Ant-Man), the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime used the ceremony as a chance to slip into Avengers Mansion. Their plan? Why to hide the giant python that belonged to Princess Python in the wedding cake, of course. An insane surprise attack that led to one of my favorite insane comic images as the snake bursts from the cake to attack Jan on the comic’s cover.
The pattern of villainous interference at weddings became so well established that when Wonder Girl married Terry Long in Tales of the New Teen Titans #50 (1985), the surprise of the story was that nobody actually attacked.
Of course in all of these examples, the wedding actually goes through. No obstacle, not even the machinations of Doctor Doom, can defeat the deep seated cultural urge to pair people off in wedded bliss.
That’s what made this summer’s wedding events so unusual. They failed. Catwoman left Batman standing at the altar in Batman #50. Worse still, in X-Men: Gold #30, Kitty Pryde’s phasing powers instinctively kicked in as longtime love Colossus tried to put the ring on her finger. Seeing the symbol of your union pass through your bride’s hand with all your superhero friends watching had to hurt.
Kitty’s doubts were fanned the night before the wedding by her best friend Ilyana (Magick), who is also Colossus’ little sister. Ilyana’s worries that the relationship had never managed to work sank in a little too deeply, seeding Kitty’s doubts. Meanwhile Catwoman had a similar thing happen when the Joker, in a story too brilliant to adequately summarize here, essentially explained to Catwoman that a happily wed Batman would not really be the Batman she loved.
What is the message here? Well, maybe you need to watch your fiancé’s friends. Okay, the Joker is nobody’s pal, but we can think of him as Catwoman’s work friend. Interestingly, that whole conversation seems to have been if not orchestrated then at least encouraged by Bane to get in Batman’s head. Ilyana at least seemed to care about her friend and her brother, but the conversation still derailed the wedding.
Or maybe, the read here is that marriage doesn’t work in simple ways any more. Even people who seem destined to be together might not be perfect matches. Marriage requires a lot of work.