The news that Superman and Wonder Woman will be hooking up in the pages of JUSTICE LEAGUE #12 has fans predictably divided on the subject. Some are rejoicing, saying it’s something they’ve waited years for, while others are annoyed, calling it a temporary publicity stunt and a ham-fisted set-up for next year’s “Trinity War.” Most likely, it is all those things and more. But let’s just take a minute and weigh out the pros and cons of Superman and Wonder Woman becoming DC’s new power couple.
First appearing in ACTION COMICS #1, Lois Lane has been a part of Superman’s story since literally day one. Heck, Jerry Siegel’s future wife Joanne Carter was the physical model that Joe Shuster drew inspiration from when designing the character. She has been in every interpretation of Superman’s story across all media, from radio and cartoons to television and movies, including next year’s MAN OF STEEL. They married in the comics of the 90’s, and that event echoed out to other media adaptions as well, including LOIS AND CLARK and SMALLVILLE. To many, Lois Lane is almost as important a character to Superman’s mythology as Superman himself, and will forever be Superman’s one true love.
Debuting in 1941, Wonder Woman was intended to be a female counterpart to Superman, his equal in every way, except maybe sales figures. Over the years, fans and creators have flirted with idea of making them a couple because, well, it just makes so much damn sense. The two most powerful and good-looking people on planet Earth, why wouldn’t they get together? It worked for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. So many stories set in the far future, when Lois Lane is long dead, have Superman and Wonder Woman getting together, that it’s almost become an accepted piece of future-continuity.
As originally envisioned, Lois Lane was the quintessential “damsel in distress.” Because Superman was so powerful, and was therefore practically un-killable, a character was needed whose life COULD be placed in jeopardy, elevating the tension in any situation. Lois Lane was a reporter, who frequently investigated dangerous gangsters and mad scientists. The fact that she was Superman’s love interest gave the stories a mythic ring, as the Hero saving his Love from The Dragon is a concept that resonates through all fiction, from the story of “Perseus and Andromeda” all the way down to THE SUPER MARIO BROS.
But their relationship was always one built on secrets and lies. Perhaps Elliot S! Maggin said it best, “Clark loved Lois, Lois loved Superman, Superman loved Clark.” Superman kept the secret of his double life from Lois, supposedly to keep her safe from reprisals from his enemies. Which never actually made sense to me, since Lois Lane got thrown out a window every other day anyway. In the real world, however, the reason was because the two-sided Love Triangle was a perpetual motion story engine that kept the series going for decades. That’s most likely the reason why a story written by Jerry Siegel in 1940 called “The K-Metal from Krypton” was shot down by his editors, as it featured, along with the too-soon introduction of Kryptonite, Clark revealing his secret to Lois.
It seems that even way back then, DC’s editors rejected the idea of Lois and Clark as a couple.
Very few ideas are either good or bad inherently. A lot of the times it comes down to execution. For my money, things like the “Homecoming” episode of SMALLVILLE (along with all of Season 10) proved that the Lois and Clark marriage can work, if done right. If Lois is used as an anchor, something that keeps Superman grounded to reality and the human race, just like his parents did when he was Superboy. If the pair is shown as a loving, trusting couple that watch each other’s backs and honestly do love each other and want to be in one another’s company. It can work.
But admittedly, just like how having your main character be an all-powerful god-man who can’t die can make it trickier to tell dramatic stories, the tale of a happily married couple can seem to drain all drama from any situation. After all, there’s a reason most stories end when the hero or heroine gets their love. To put it simply, Happily Ever After is a great ending, but it can be a pretty boring story arc. And a lot of stories depicting their marriage have been stale at best.
And while we are discussing limitations in Superman stories, here’s a big one: Lois can’t go anywhere Superman can. Superman adventures can and should take place everywhere and anywhere. The surface of the sun, the bottom of the ocean, the Moon, Mars, even Heaven or Hell. But these are situations and environments Lois Lane wouldn’t last two seconds in.
Wonder Woman, however, would thrive in these types of stories.
Women like Catwoman, Sharon Carter, Hawkgirl, can ride shotgun with their guys into battle, sometimes even leading the charge themselves. While Lois Lane is certainly the spiritual and intellectual equal of Superman in the battle for Truth and Justice, Wonder Woman is both those things, and also his physical equal to boot. While Lois can certainly get into adventures on her own (heck, she had her own comic for decades), the gap between their physical abilities is just too wide, and Lois is too often relegated to being a spectator while Superman battles alien gods for the fate of the Earth. Wonder Woman would actually lend Supes a hand.
And while addressing the human aspect of the character, Wonder Woman provides a unique advantage there as well. Fans say that the appeal of Superman is not his powers, but his humanity. But when paired with a human, Superman by nature becomes more alien. However, while Wonder Woman is certainly a humane character, she is far from normal, having grown up on an island of immortal Amazon warriors. This gives her a wildly different view of the world, which is in many ways more alien than Superman’s own, one framed by the American farmlands and small town general stores. Placing her beside Superman would actually bring out MORE of his human side, and make him seem in contrast more relatable (apparently up there with Darker and Edgier as Holy Grail words for superheroes, if editors and directors are to be believed) , as he was raised just like any of us, a regular guy with regular parents in a regular town.
Lois Lane is a great character. She has been with Superman his entire history, and will probably never not be there. In truth, I expect this separation to last as long as the new armored suit. The classic always wins. But that said, I am excited to see where this relationship with Wonder Woman goes. Superman and Wonder Woman fighting alien dinosaurs on the Moon and calling it date night is something I want to see happen. Wonder Woman would not only provide an able ally in battle and life for Superman, but the whole Warrior Princess dating a Farm Boy is just ripe for comedic gold.
If this change must happen (and DC Editorial seems hell-bent on keeping Lois and Clark apart for the present), then I hope the writers at DC will use it to its full potential, and not just as a set up for another event. I still don’t believe it’s something that will (or should) last forever, no matter how fun an idea. Just like Dick Grayson as nice Batman to Damian’s killer Robin, this too will eventually bend to the classic mythology of the character.
I just hope we get some really great stories out of it while it lasts.
What do you think? I’m a Superman fan, first and foremost, but I’m curious how others think this relationship effect Wonder Woman. What does Superman bring Wonder Woman’s mythology? And do you think this makes them stronger characters, or does it dilute their appeal?