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MCU Couples Ranked By Likability

The Marvel Cinematic Universe focuses on a band of superheroes tasked with saving the planet and, later, the universe from one giant threat after another. But in order for the franchise to work, fans need to see the heroes not as distant, mythic icons but flesh-and-blood people who go through the same struggles as the rest of us and fight for the same things. And a major part of making a superhero relatable is giving them a love interest who occupies their time when the world isn't in danger. 

Sometimes these love interests become as famous as the superhero. Other times, the romantic subplot can feel perfunctory and tacked on, something that needs to be gotten out of the way before the real story can start. Naturally, with so many characters jockeying for importance, the MCU has plenty of examples of both types of love interests. Here's a countdown of the superhero couples, from the worst to the best, who've romanced their way across the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

18. Doctor Strange and Christine Palmer

Benedict Cumberbatch has made something of a career out of playing brilliant, emotionally distant men who manage to hide their disdain for lesser mortals under mounds of charisma. "Doctor Strange" was another entry in that group, as Cumberbatch played the heck out of Stephen Strange, an arrogant neurosurgeon who transforms into the Sorcerer Supreme following an unfortunate accident.    

The film has a lot of lore to get through since it's the first film to officially introduce magic into the MCU (the previous "Thor" films always skirted around this topic but never embraced it). Most of the story deals with Stephen's journey of discovery, as he goes from being a skeptic about the existence of magic to joining a school for sorcerers and eventually taking on the responsibility of the Sorcerer Supreme. Intermittently, we catch up with Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), Stephen's old colleague, whom he has a romantic history with. 

Christine shares a few tender moments with Stephen, but there aren't nearly enough of those to make the audience actually care about her character or their relationship. No one has been surprised that we haven't seen Christine play any significant role in post-"Strange" MCU events, although there is a chance we could see her make a return as the Marvel Comics superhero Night Nurse.     

17. Sersi and Ikaris

"Eternals" had the cumbersome task of introducing a dozen major new characters, fitting them into the existing MCU continuity, and setting up a new franchise that focuses on the cosmic side of Marvel Comics. One way the film tried to include some emotions amidst so much world-building was by putting the focus on the relationship between Sersi (Gemma Chan) and Ikaris (Richard Madden).

The duo are part of a group of near-immortal beings, created by cosmic deities, who've lived on Earth for many eons. Sersi and Ikaris are shown to have been in love with each other for thousands of years, and the two even have the distinction of portraying the first love scene in an MCU film. The love that Sersi and Ikaris share — and the fallout of their relationship on the rest of the Eternals — is an important part of the film's narrative backbone.

So it's too bad that the actual relationship itself isn't as interesting as the movie would like you to believe. The chemistry between Ikaris and Sersi isn't nearly as strong as what some of the MCU's best romantic pairings have given us (also Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes). Plus, in the film itself, Ikaris ghosted Sersi for a really long time and almost murdered her in service of his creator, so yeah, that's not exactly a healthy relationship.

16. Black Widow and Hulk

Who could've seen this coming? The cold and calculating assassin turned Avenger hooking up with the shy, guilt-laden intellectual who morphs into a rampaging monster at a moment's notice? It makes little sense, but there's no denying that the very first scene between Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Bruce Banner, aka Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), was one of the major highlights of "The Avengers." 

Then in "Avengers: Age of Ultron," we discover that Natasha has developed feelings for Bruce. It also seems that Bruce returns the feelings to some extent, considering that Natasha is the only Avenger who can calm him down when he's in rampage mode as the Hulk. The relationship might've been an unexpected development, but there's something oddly sweet about seeing Natasha and Bruce, both broken souls, finding some measure of comfort in each other. 

But there's little surprise when the two break up after Hulk leaves the Earth at the end of "Avengers: Age of Ultron," only a feeling of inevitability. The truth is Natasha and Bruce were on wildly divergent paths for most of their lives, who briefly came together like ships in the night due to the world-ending threats faced by the Avengers. Maybe in some distant corner of the Marvel multiverse, things ended differently for Nat and Bruce, and they were finally able to do more than exchange longing looks and bond over their painful pasts.

15. Druig and Makkari

"Eternals" told the story of a group of ancient beings who've been secretly living on Earth for thousands of years. The Eternals have a complex dynamic with regards to their internal relationships, such as the complicated romance between Sersi and Ikaris. However, there's another — much sweeter — relationship that didn't get much attention yet proved unexpectedly heartwarming.

Druig (Barry Keoghan) and Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) were two Eternals who got summoned back to the main group in present times to take on a new threat caused by their mortal enemies, the Deviants. Right from the start, it was pretty clear that Keoghan and Riddloff's characters shared an extra special heap of chemistry between them that made their scenes together stand out.  

In fact, the director of the movie, Chloé Zhao, revealed in an interview that the romance between Druig and Makkari wasn't even in the script so prominently until the two actors got in front of each other. "Initially, that was not the intention [to make Druig and Makkari a couple]," Zhao explained (via Insider). "I think really it was from [Keoghan and Ridloff] meeting that we saw that, and go, 'Maybe we should play into it.'"

14. Phastos and Ben

Sersi and Ikaris weren't the only couple in "Eternals" who got to put their stamp on MCU history. Another romantic MCU first in "Eternals" is Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), a superhero main character who's openly gay and lives with his husband, Ben (Haaz Sleiman), and son, Jack. 

The news that the MCU was going to introduce an openly gay superhero was met with the largely expected amounts of controversy. But the relationship between Phastos and his husband is not mere window dressing. It's shown that Ben is a link to humanity for Phastos after the hero was initially left disappointed with the way humans used his aid in developing modern technology to hurt each other. 

The relationship between Phastos and Ben is a highlight of "Eternals" and something that could've given more depth to the narrative with a richer backstory. As it is, Phastos and Ben cannot be counted among the best MCU couples yet simply because the audience hasn't spent enough time with them so far. If we get a sequel or Phastos shows up in another MCU film, hopefully fans will get a deeper look at the life that he and Ben have created together.  

13. Xu Wenwu and Ying Li

"Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" told a classic story of a prodigal son who must return years later to a world he'd turned his back on. The main character's journey doesn't leave much room for romance, but there is another couple in the film that more than makes up for it, Xu Wenwu (Tony Leung) and Ying Li (Fala Chen). 

For a millennia, Wenwu attacked and conquered everything he saw thanks to the power of his Ten Rings. Then one day, Wenwu attacked a magical village watched over by Ying Li, and he fell hopelessly in love with this beautiful guardian. As Wenwu later told Katy Chen, "I've had many names throughout my life. The Warrior King, Master Khan, the most dangerous man on Earth. For years, I thought that was all I was meant to be. But when I met [Ying Li], everything changed."  

Tragically, Wenwu and Ying Li's love story was cut short when the latter was murdered at the hands of the Iron Gang. This set Wenwu on a fresh path of destruction, even drawing his children into the conflict. The loss of Ying Li left Wenwu a broken man, estranged from his remaining family and heading a criminal organization in present times. In the end, Wenwu found a measure of redemption by saving his son, sacrificing his life in the process and hopefully being able to join Ying Li in the afterlife.

12. Thor and Jane Foster

Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth) is one of the "Big Three" main characters of the MCU, alongside Captain American and Iron Man. Thor is also generally agreed to be the hottest dude in the entire franchise — someone who's almost legally required to have a shirtless scene in every film and who can make Star-Lord insecure with his mere presence.

Despite his "ladykiller" appearance, Thor's time in the MCU has been quite light on romance. He's only had a single love interest named Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), an astrophysicist he met for the first time in 2011's "Thor." Although the two shared a tender relationship, they didn't get much time to be together since Thor's duties as protector of Asgard kept him busy in other parts of the universe. And then in "Thor: Ragnarok," we learned the two broke up offscreen.

The upcoming "Thor: Love and Thunder" is set to feature Jane in a major role again, as she becomes another God of Thunder and helps Thor deal with the threat of Gorr the God Butcher. Hopefully the two (literally) star-crossed lovers will get a great deal more screen time that adds new dimensions to their relationship. 

11. Black Panther and Nakia

"Black Panther" told an epic, sweeping tale of a distant kingdom, a war over an ancient dynasty, a family divided, and the new king tasked with bringing his people together in the most trying of times. In other words, King T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) had his work cut out for him when he returned to Wakanda to rule over the secret nation in place of his deceased father.  

T'Challa's journey was aided by a bevy of strong and powerful women, from the royal Dora Milaje to his sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright). Another important character who stayed loyally at T'Challa's side throughout was Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), who'd been romantically involved with him in the past, and the two still shared a strong sense of camaraderie. You could see T'Challa visibly relaxing around Nakia, and he respected her intelligence and experience as an undercover agent who'd travelled all over the world. 

When T'Challa was usurped from his throne, Nakia's assistance was crucial in helping him survive and return to take back his kingdom. With the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman in 2020, T'Challa and Nakia's love story will unfortunately never be completed, but she will no doubt continue to uphold T'Challa's legacy within the MCU.    

10. Ant-Man and the Wasp

The interesting thing about the superhero romance between Ant-Man and the Wasp is that you get two love stories for the price of one since the mantle of the two heroes has been passed down through generations. The first Ant-Man we meet in 2015's origin story is Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), who's bequeathed the Ant-Man suit and charged with using it to save the world.

Scott is assisted by Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), who resents the fact that her father trusted a stranger with his shrinking technology instead of her. Over time, Scott and Hope grow closer together, and they work well as a team once Hope gets her own superhero suit in "Ant-Man and the Wasp." In that film, we find out more about the previous generation's Ant-Man (Michael Douglas as Hank Pym) and his wife, the Wasp (Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet van Dyne). 

Their love story is much more tragic, as Janet had been trapped for decades in the Quantum Realm after an ill-fated mission, leaving Hank wracked with guilt and sadness. When the two are finally reunited, the deep love that still exists between them is evident to all.  

9. Hawkeye and Laura Barton

It's pretty easy to make fun of Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), the Avenger who stands next to literal gods and monsters while holding a weapon that became obsolete in the previous century. But say what you will about the dude, the fact remains that the Avengers won every fight against a major villain that he was involved in, and they lost to Thanos when he wasn't around. 

The extent of Hawkeye's usefulness can be debated, but the truth is he's one of the most grounded and relatable main characters in a franchise that deals so deeply with mythical beings. One of the most heartwarming scenes in the entire MCU occurs in "Avengers: Age of Ulton," when the team is forced to hide out on Clint's farm. There, they meet Hawkeye's family — his pregnant wife, Laura (Linda Cardellini), and their two children.

Although Laura doesn't get a lot of screen time, it's very evident that she's Clint's rock and main source of support. She encourages him at his low point and reminds him that his teammates need Clint as much as he needs them. And when Laura and his children are dusted due to Thanos' snap, Hawkeye falls apart completely and transforms into a rage-filled vigilante.     

8. The Red Guardian and Melina Vostokoff

Superhero romances tend to be rather ones-sided. You have the hero, who does the saving, and you have the love interest in need of saving. It's rare to find superhero couples that kick equal amounts of ass or who do it in as delightfully off-kilter a manner as Alexei Shostakov, aka the Red Guardian (David Harbour), and Melina Vostokoff  (Rachel Weisz). The duo have only shown up in a single MCU movie so far, "Black Widow." But their hilarious dynamic has already made them a lot of fans. 

Alexei and Melina were Russian agents back in the day. But that was decades ago — before Alexei wound up an inmate in a Russian prison and Melina started running a farm near Saint Petersburg while conducting experiments on animals. While their foster daughters Natasha and Yelena (Florence Pugh) were full of angst and resentment about their shared past, Alexei and Melina by this point were too old and jaded to hold grudges. The two had a grand old time reminiscing about their past relationship (Melina had even named her favorite pig "Alexei"). When it was time to embark on a new mission, they fell comfortably back into their old pattern of working together to take down the enemy, with Alexei supplying the brawn and Melina the brains. 

7. Spider-Man and MJ

The MCU made a bunch of major changes to Spider-Man's mythology when the character finally joined the franchise in 2016's "Captain America: Civil War." Other than a quick Easter egg in "Far From Home," Uncle Ben is nowhere to be found. Aunt May is suddenly anything but old and frumpy. Iron Man is essentially Peter Parker's (Tom Holland) mentor. And a certain red-haired bombshell is no longer around to give Peter sleepless nights. 

In place of the iconic pairing of Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson, we get Peter's high school acquaintance MJ (Zendaya), a fellow student turned main love interest. When the cast for 2017's "Spider-Man: Homecoming" was first announced, fans assumed MJ was short for "Mary Jane" like in the comics. But it was later revealed that Zendaya's character was a new creation whose initials stood for "Michelle Jones."

Holland and Zendaya have sparkling chemistry as the new version of Peter and MJ, helped along by their off-screen relationship. The characters are young and not very good at expressing their feelings, but they are there for each other during the toughest of times. Their banter and occasional awkwardness makes for a welcome change from the more mature romances that the other MCU heroes enjoy.    

6. Aunt May and Happy Hogan

This isn't your grandma's Aunt May. When Spider-Man joined the MCU, the folks running the franchise decided to make his septuagenarian aunt from the comics much closer to Peter's age by having her be portrayed by the perennially youthful Marisa Tomei.

The difference was immediately noted, particularly by the men of the MCU. Everyone from Tony Stark to Peter's local grocery store owner to a random waiter tried to hit on May. And yet the guy who finally managed to get ahead of the pack and actually strike up a relationship with her was Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), Tony's personal assistant/bodyguard/sidekick.   

Happy and May are shown to be having a delightfully awkward time displaying their new relationship in front of Peter in "Spider-Man: Far From Home." But by the end of the film, it's clear that there's something serious burgeoning between them, especially after Happy declares that he's in love with May in the moments before he thinks he's about to die. It would be quite something to see Happy get hitched up with Aunt May and take the place of Uncle Ben in Peter's life. 

5. Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter

We know what you might be thinking here. Steve Rogers, aka Captain America (Chris Evans), getting it on with Sharon (Emily VanCamp), the niece of the love of his life, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell)? Gross! But hear us out. While Steve and Peggy are an iconic couple, there's a case to be made that "Steve and Sharon" makes more sense than "Steve and Peggy."

Consider the fact that in the MCU, Steve and Peggy only knew each other for a few days before Steve got trapped in ice for decades. The two never even went on a real date. The truth is, the MCU's Steve was always in love with the "idea" of Peggy, his long-lost love, rather than Peggy the actual person. On the other hand, Steve spent a lot more time getting to know Sharon. The two were neighbors for some time where they acted extra friendly towards each other. 

Later, Sharon was willing to go against her direct superiors at SHIELD to back Steve up at the end of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." In "Civil War," Sharon went against the U.S. government to help Steve in his fight against Team Iron Man and paid for it with imprisonment and being branded a criminal. That kiss between Steve and Sharon might've weirded some people out, but the truth is Sharon earned that kiss. 

4. Star-Lord and Gamora

Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), gets a lot of flack for ruining the Avengers' plan to de-glove Thanos in "Avengers: Infinity War" after being overcome with rage. But more than anything else, that rage is a testament to one of the most tender romances in the entire MCU, one that developed between Quill and Gamora (Zoe Saldana).

Although the two fought like enemies when they met in the first "Guardians of the Galaxy," they soon grew to respect the skills and brains of the other as galactic outlaws. Over time, Star-Lord sensed that there was more to Gamora than a life of killing and running, and Gamora realized Peter was much more noble-minded than his "dashing rogue" persona let on. The duo also bonded over their terrible fathers and lack of family, and they found a new home with each other and the rest of the Guardians. 

Later when Gamora asked Peter to shoot her to stop Thanos' plans, you could see her heart breaking, as well as the mental torture Peter endured at the very thought of having to take Gamora's life. Now that a different Gamora is back in the main timeline, fans are hoping she and Peter will finally get to have their "happily-ever-after" moment in some capacity.    

3. Tony Stark and Pepper Potts

Few other couples in the MCU have gotten as much screen time as Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and his assistant turned company manager turned wife, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). Sure, Tony was a pretty big womanizer in his early days, but no one was ever able to make him care and open up emotionally the way Pepper did. 

The bond between the two only grew stronger as the franchise went on. In fact, they got married and had an adorable little daughter. The bond between Pepper and Tony also led to one of the saddest moments in MCU history, when Tony said his final goodbyes to Pepper from the depths of space as he was on the brink of death at the start of "Avengers: Endgame." 

Fortunately, Tony was saved, and he lived to see Pepper again. She was with Tony right up until his last moments, even joining in the fight against Thanos with her own Iron Man armor. When Tony lay dying on the battlefield after having just saved the entire universe, the last thing he saw before passing away was Pepper gazing into his eyes and telling him he could finally let go of his burdens and rest. 

2. Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter

Some fans have pointed out that the romance between Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter doesn't make a lot of sense since the two only knew each other for a few days and technically never even went on a date. But who can argue in the face of the red-hot chemistry between Evans and Atwell that was strong enough to retroactively change the very history of the MCU just to bring those two together? 

While Steve saw himself as a man lost in time, Peggy was his north star, the beautiful face guiding him through some of the toughest moments in his life. Even though there were other women along the way, including Peggy's own niece, Steve never stopped thinking of Peggy. Meanwhile, Peggy went off on her own adventures in a spinoff show and found other men vying for her attention. But the ghost of Steve was always at the back of her mind.

In the end, when Steve returned to the past to live out the rest of his life with Peggy at the end of "Avengers: Endgame," it felt like the entire franchise had come full circle and arrived at a satisfying conclusion, no matter how many new movies the MCU would release afterward.      

1. Wanda and Vision

On paper, nothing about this relationship works. One is a witch with deep emotional trauma who blew up a building full of civilians and held an entire brainwashed town hostage (and that was at a time when she was considered one of the "good guys"). The other is an artificially created lifeform who's struggled to understand humanity and his own place in the world. 

And yet, over time, Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and Vision (Paul Bettany) have proven themselves the most interesting couple in the MCU. Sure, "WandaVision" was the show that put them on top, but even before that, the duo shared some of the most emotional moments in the entire MCU. For example, there was when Vision tried to comfort Wanda in "Captain America: Civil War" or the sheer misery and pain on Wanda's face as she was forced to destroy Vision to stop Thanos in "Avengers: Infinity War." 

With "WandaVision," the two characters embarked on another devastatingly emotional journey as they sought to create a world where they could be truly happy. Whether pretending to be the perfect sitcom couple or arguing about the ethics of what Wanda had done to the town of Westview, the chemistry between Olsen and Bettany has always ensured that every moment of their characters' relationship comes alive onscreen and has fans rooting for them every step of the way.