After a quiet 12 months, DC has come out of the gates swinging with Aquaman. It’s only just been released in the U.S., but it’s already pulled in over $330 million in other territories, and right now, it’s safe to say that it’ll be a gargantuan hit for both Warner Bros. and DC. A key theme in the movie is relationships, as we witness how Tom Curry and Atlanna’s love transcended land and sea, as well as Arthur Curry and Mera’s blooming romance. The exploration of relationships isn’t a new thing in DC films, and we’ve seen numerous couples portrayed on screen throughout the years. Heck, just look at the way Batman looked at Superman in 2017’s Justice League; we recommend that the Snyder Cut become the SuperBat Cut and explore that dynamic instead.
In some cases, these couples have become relationship goals, while other times, we wish they’d change their relationship status to “Single” on Facebook. Naturally, every person has an expectation of what they expect from a significant other, and there will be disagreements over what makes a healthy and loving couple. From the most obvious pairings, to the one’s you haven’t seen coming, not only did these couples have an impact on each character, but they influenced their movies as a whole. With that said, let’s swipe left (and right) on 10 Couples That Hurt DC Movies (And 10 That Saved Them).
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20 Saved: Batman & Catwoman (Batman Returns)
There’s a lot of debate about who Batman’s significant other truly is. We’ve seen several female suitors waltz in and out of Bruce Wayne’s life, but there have only been two constants: Talia al Ghul and Selina Kyle (Catwoman). Tim Burton’s Batman introduced Vicki Vale as Bruce’s love interest, only to turn things on its head with Selina’s arrival in Batman Returns.
Watching Bruce and Selina learn about each other’s masks was both exciting and saddening. The only way these two could ever be together and find happiness is if they retired their alter egos. There’s something almost Shakespearean about this forbidden love and how they’re two paramours on the opposite sides of the moral compass.
19 Hurt: Hal Jordan & Carol Ferris (Green Lantern)
Well, this is awkward, especially since Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively are now happily married in real life. Truth be told, Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris’ lack of fireworks in 2011’s Green Lantern had nothing to do with them. The characters were poorly written and just another negative aspect of the much-derided film.
Despite Reynolds not having many fond memories of Green Lantern, he does credit it for kick-starting his friendship with Lively, which blossomed into love. The two stayed in touch after production wrapped and even went on a double date with their respective partners at the time. It was there that the two finally realized they were better suited for each other, and the rest, as they say, is history.
18 Saved: Superman & Lois Lane (Man of Steel)
Clark Kent and Lois Lane’s relationship is timeless. It’s one of the most recognizable love stories in popular culture and everyone knows these two are soulmates. In fact, we even got a borderline soap-opera interpretation of it in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
In Man of Steel, we saw Zack Snyder’s interpretation of how these two people found each other. As Lois dug up information on Superman, she discovered there was much more to the man than just the blue suit and red cape. The flirting, the infatuation, the trust… it all started here, and it’s easy to see why Clark told her that she’s his world in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
17 Hurt: Bruce Wayne & Rachel Dawes (Batman Begins)
Batman Begins introduced Rachel Dawes in the Batman canon. She was presented as Bruce Wayne’s closest childhood friend and a potential love interest in adulthood. While it was welcomed that Christopher Nolan did something new and original, Katie Holmes’ Rachel struggled to make a connection with Christian Bale’s Bruce.
The two never clicked, and it was made worse by the fact that she said she would only be with Bruce if he gave up being Batman. Immediately, that made us dislike her, because who would want to see a movie about the two of them living happily ever after? Maybe the only person who wanted this relationship to happen was Bruce, because no one else gave a hoot about it.
16 Saved: Tom Curry & Atlanna (Aquaman)
If you want to see a relationship that rivals the tear-inducing nature of Pixar’s Up, look no further than the story of Tom Curry and Atlanna. The two were nothing alike; she was royalty and he was a lighthouse keeper, yet, their love brought their worlds together and produced a son, Arthur.
It was heartbreaking to see Atlanna leave Tom and Arthur behind, as she knew that Atlantis wouldn’t allow them to be together. But what’s even more saddening was to see Tom walk to the end of the pier every day, awaiting her return. There’s a certain purity to their love, as you feel their deep connection to each other that goes beyond anything that can be explained.
15 Hurt: Superman & Lois Lane (Superman Returns)
Clark Kent and Lois Lane are the perfect comic book couple, so what could go wrong with featuring them in a film? Turns out, plenty. Superman Returns isn’t fondly remembered by Man of Steel fans. It’s a little unfair, since it tried to retcon the Superman movies and was pretty decent (even if it played it far too safe at times).
One of the issues was the relationship between Lois and Clark. At this stage, they’re separated and she’s been involved with Richard White. Of course, Superman’s arrival puts a strain on Richard and Lois’ relationship, but the thing is, you never get the feeling that Clark and Lois were right for each other in Superman Returns; they felt awkward and incompatible.
14 Saved: Wonder Woman & Steve Trevor (Wonder Woman)
The true love of Diana Prince’s life is Steve Trevor. After seeing a photo of him and her in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, we find out how they met in Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman. It’s an interesting dynamic as Trevor initially tries to protect Diana, thinking she’s a damsel who needs saving, only to discover that she’s more than capable of handling her own in battle and she actually saves him on a few occasions.
It’s joyous to watch him introduce Diana to the world outside of Themyscira, while her pure and untainted way of seeing life influences him to become better. They brought out the best in each other and they both became heroes because of it.
13 Hurt: Batman & Wonder Woman (Justice League)
Ah, Justice League. The Frankenstein of a movie is still a major talking point a year later. One of the strangest decisions taken was to play up a relationship between Batman and Wonder Woman. Now, we’ve seen traces of this shipping in the animated series, where they were affectionately dubbed WonderBat, but it took a bizarre turn in Justice League.
First off, the charming Bruce Wayne from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice who flirted with Diana made way for a bumbling fool who was nervous to call her. Second, it didn’t help that this movie arrived a few months after Wonder Woman, where we saw how deep her love for Steve Trevor was. Why introduce another love interest for her so soon?
12 Saved: Aquaman & Mera (Aquaman)
In the comic books, Aquaman and Mera are like the royal couple. They make all other pairings look like chumps and you just know they’d win every single game night. Thankfully, James Wan captured how important the characters are to each other in Aquaman. It’s a relationship that drives and powers the film to the next level, as they need to learn how to work together in order to succeed.
Speaking to Screen Rant, Amber Heard explained the influence that Mera has on Arthur Curry. “She’s the driving force of really making Aquaman Aquaman. She turns Arthur into Aquaman. And she figures everything out. She knows what is right, and she knows what is wrong, and she has willpower to execute it,” she said.
11 Hurt: Joker & Harley Quinn (Suicide Squad)
For some reason, people think that the Joker and Harley Quinn’s relationship is healthy and some kind of goal. It isn’t. He’s abusive and treats her like dirt to get what he wants. To be fair, this was changed slightly in Suicide Squad as he seemed to show a more caring side towards her. Even so, it didn’t make their relationship any better.
Furthermore, Suicide Squad didn’t need the Joker in it. It was a glorified cameo for Jared Leto’s Mr. J and David Ayer really should’ve made the Clown Prince of Crime the antagonist of the movie rather than Enchantress. There’s nothing about Joker and Harley’s twisted romance that entices us to see more of them in future films.
10 Saved: Nite Owl & Silk Spectre (Watchmen)
Hands down, Zack Snyder’s Watchmen is the most underrated comic book movie of all time. Not only is it a visual masterpiece, but it also managed to capture the complexity and intensity of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ comic book series. Additionally, it found the time to show us the emotional and raw passion of Daniel Dreiberg (Nite Owl II) and Laurie Jupiter’s (Silk Spectre II) relationship.
Looking at the two of them, it’s evident that they never forgot about each other – even if Laurie was with Doctor Manhattan. Their scenes are passionate and moving, as the audience rooted for Daniel and Laurie to end up together, which was exactly the response that Snyder wanted from us.
9 Hurt: Rick Flag & Enchantress (Suicide Squad)
In some films, directors get a desire to put all their leads in romantic relationships. It’s done to up the stakes and drive home the depth of the narrative since everyone is heavily connected. Suicide Squad paired Rick Flag with June Moone/Enchantress to show how conflicted Rick was about June’s turn in the movie.
Unfortunately, no one cared about their dalliance and it bored us. If you look at the current Suicide Squad comic books, Rob Williams and his conspirators put Rick together with Harley Quinn, and it worked much more effectively. There was more passion and conflict between those two in a few panels than there was in the entire movie between Rick and June.
8 Saved: Batman & Catwoman (The Dark Knight Rises)
Comic book movie fans are fuddy-duddies. There was absolutely nothing wrong with Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises and it capped off an excellent trilogy in the right way. It was another home run and it showcased how things could turn out for Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle if they could forget about being Batman and Catwoman, respectively.
Batman Returns toyed with the idea of them leaving it all behind for each other, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. In The Dark Knight Rises, we get to see Alfred’s wish for Bruce become a reality, as he retires the cape and cowl and finds happiness with Selina. It’s a true happy ending for everyone.
7 Hurt: Bruce Wayne & Chase Meridian (Batman Forever)
Warner Bros. really changed up Batman’s girlfriends from film to film. After his whirlwind romance with Catwoman in Batman Returns, you’d think everyone would accept that he can’t be with anyone until he gives up the crime-fighting life. But no. In Batman Forever, Chase Meridian was introduced as another love interest for Bruce Wayne and Batman.
The romance never sparked, though, as Chase seemed more like a fixated Batman fan than a true admirer. Her dialogue and demeanor bordered on the weird side and even made us feel slightly uncomfortable. A better plot twist would’ve been a reveal that she was working with the Riddler and Two-Face to take down the Dark Knight.
6 Saved: Harvey Dent & Rachel Dawes (The Dark Knight)
While Rachel Dawes and Bruce Wayne had no chemistry in Batman Begins, her relationship with Harvey Dent was the catalyst for The Dark Knight. Where the comic books explained Harvey’s descension into madness as a result of a mob attack, Christopher Nolan’s movie addressed his transformation into Two-Face as a result of psychological trauma. In other words, losing Rachel pushed him over the edge.
Watching the scene where Harvey and Rachel are speaking to each other and realizing that one of them will perish is agonizing. It’s a moment that breaks all of our hearts, especially since Harvey was ready to sacrifice himself in order for Rachel to survive. Unfortunately, the Joker had other plans and used this as a way to break Gotham’s White Knight.
5 Hurt: Dick Grayson & Barbara Wilson (Batman & Robin)
By the time Batman & Robin rolled out, it was obvious that Warner Bros. couldn’t give two hoots about the comic book canon. For example, it introduced Batgirl as Barbara Wilson, Alfred’s niece, and not as Barbara Gordon. Even though Jim Gordon was alive and well in this universe, someone thought this was a better idea. Go figure.
Of course, a relationship was played up between Barbara and Dick Grayson. Watching it, though, felt like waiting for two stones to sink in an ocean. Everything felt forced and their flirtation bordered on imbecilic. This is one situation where Babs and Dick would’ve been better off as friends rather than force a romance where there is none.
4 Saved: Harley Quinn & Deadshot (Batman: Assault on Arkham)
What, a Harley Quinn relationship with someone else? Yes, it happened in Batman: Assault on Arkham. Even though she hadn’t quite forgotten about the Joker, she decided to pursue Floyd Lawton, a.k.a Deadshot, in the animated movie and surprised absolutely everyone.
The best part about it is how this relationship impacted the plot’s development. The Clown Prince of Crime ended up being resentful of the two of them and this played out in the proceedings. While Harley’s involvement with Deadshot wasn’t based out of love, it was an instance where it elevated the story and gave a new dynamic to her and Mr. J’s toxic relationship. In a way, Harley reclaimed her power.
3 Hurt: Tom Lone & Patience Phillips (Catwoman)
Catwoman. Sigh. It’s almost too easy to pick on this film because there are so many things wrong with it. From its butchering of canon to the ridiculously bad script, essays can be written about how it’s an example of how to NOT make a movie. Sadly, its core relationship between Tom Lone and Patience Phillips is also another dud.
Who could ever forget that basketball scene that was meant to be a moment between the two of them? Obviously, someone must’ve watched 2003’s Daredevil and thought, “Wow, this play-fighting thing is revolutionary and we should totally do it in our movie!” Yeah, that tells you all you need to know about how bad their relationship was portrayed.
2 Saved: Dick Grayson & Starfire (Teen Titans: The Judas Contract)
You know, for all the history that Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon have, we’ve yet to see a proper on-screen adaptation of their romance. Instead, we’ve witnessed several versions of Dick and Koriand’r’s relationship, and all their liaisons in the animated movies have been terrific so far.
In Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, we take a peek behind the curtain and see how Dick and Kori are comfortable with each other, even if she does reveal some rather embarrassing bedroom tidbits about Dick. It brings a smile to the audience’s faces as they feel completely natural and at ease with each other. Nothing about their interactions is ever forced and they feel like they’re better together than apart.
1 Hurt: Richard White & Lois Lane (Superman Returns)
We’ve discussed the issues with Superman Returns above already. For all it did right, it really was a mundane tale with almost no chemistry between any of its leads. While Lois Lane and Clark Kent struggled to rekindle their love, there wasn’t any attraction between Lois and Richard White, either.
You have to feel sorry for James Marsden here. He had to be offed in X-Men: The Last Stand so that he could star in Superman Returns and it isn’t like this film knocked it out of the park. Moral of the story: Scott Summers/Cyclops will always be a better choice than Richard White in any context. Hopefully, Marsden has learnt that lesson by now.
Tell us, which other couples saved or hurt DC films? Sound off in the comments section!