There is a litany of responsibility that comes with being a super-powered character in the DC Universe. This is what happens when you’re born into a universe that was launched in ACTION COMICS #1 by a big blue boy scout like Superman. From their inception, superheroes have represented the complicated balance that we, as readers, struggle to strike, albeit through a much more fun and exciting series of exploits. From the very start, romance and personal lives have provided some pretty entertaining fodder for that narrative.
We love a good love story, and don’t let some poor jaded soul tell you any different.
But when I think about super love stories, I always circle back to a question that I find myself considering again as Valentine’s Day draws near: Should metahumans date mortals?
In some ways, this is just a livelier version of the “should actors date non-actors” question that’s always lobbed around the entertainment world when a quote-unquote “Hollywood power couple” bites it.
Is Superman best complimented by Lois Lane, or should he have stuck it out with Wonder Woman? Are Batman and Catwoman secretly the gold standard all other heroes ought to be shooting for? The answer, as with all matters of the heart, is something more akin to “It’s Complicated” than anything else.
However, I think the first couple of DC Comics have it figured out. Superman and Lois Lane are the moon and the stars their peers should be seeking to emulate. Yes, I do believe that. I do. I also believe Lois Lane is a criminally underrated character. She debuted alongside Superman in Action Comics #1 and has been kicking butt and taking names ever since. While there’s an argument to be made that trust is an issue in their relationship since it took Clark Kent so long to trust Lois with his big secret, their relationship opened up so many new, interesting story possibilities that have since been developed and explored for the Man of Steel.
People love Clark Kent and Lois Lane being in love so much that after they were rebooted and returned to their previously unmarried state with the New 52, DC brought back the married Clark and Lois as a part of Rebirth. Ultimately, they replaced the unmarried versions with them. They even upped the ante with the addition of Jon Kent, one of my favorite contemporary additions to the universe.
Lois Lane has a good head on her shoulders, she puts her nose to the grindstone and gets the job done, and she is always trying to get to the root of the story. While Superman is a flying dynamo, Lois keeps him grounded in more ways than one. At The Daily Planet, she literally keeps his head in the game. Clark and Lois are in constant competition professionally, and Lois’ proficiency as a journalist drives Clark Kent to be at the top of his game. As the paper’s star reporter, Lois gives Clark something to strive for.
As the daughter of a general, Lois was instilled with a strong moral compass that has followed her throughout her life. She might not have the super strength to keep a car from crushing an innocent civilian, but the important thing is that she’ll still try. If she’s on the scene, she’ll put down her recorder and ask Jimmy to put down the camera and they’ll do what they can to help. Honestly, Superman really just has to keep one question in mind: What Would Lois Lane Do? If he can figure out how Lois would handle a situation, he’ll always do the right thing. Part of his moral compass must be attributed to Jonathan and Martha Kent, his parents from Kansas, but I think of Lois as serving a similar position as Iris West to Barry Allen. She’s his lightning rod.
Superman is hero to the world. Lois Lane is Superman’s hero. Through his eyes, she is a perfect writer, a perfect woman and a perfect human. While putting the weight of the word “perfect” on any person, fictional or otherwise, can carry a ton of baggage with it, in this case, I think it fits. For all of his heat vision antics and super ventriloquism, Clark Kent just wants to rate on the same scale as the woman he loves. When his affections are finally returned—can you tell how much I stan a married Superman family?—they make a near unstoppable duo.
The fact that Lois is Superman’s favorite person in the whole multiverse says a lot about the type of person Clark Kent is. He’s not looking up to Jor-El or Martian Manhunter or any of the other vastly powerful metahumans he has encountered over his 80+ years as protector. He loves the realest, most direct person he’s ever met because she is not hiding. Lois Lane doesn’t pretend to be anything other than who and what she is (well, unless she’s on an undercover assignment, but you know what I mean!).
Lana Lang was Clark Kent’s first love. Wonder Woman is his second most important female relationship. Lori Lemaris…well, she was a mermaid. Lois Lane, though, is an equal partner. And a hero like Superman, who can do almost anything, is made better by that. It helps ensure that they’ll never see themselves as better than we mere mortals. In a universe where super-powered gods walk among us, love really can save the world.
Ashley V. Robinson writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com and is a regular contributor to the Couch Club, our weekly television column. You can find her on Twitter at @AshleyVRobinson and on the Jawiin YouTube channel.