No one's saying that a superhero's private life has to be all rainbows and sunshine, but it's stupid to make every single character miserable because of their vocation. Yes, superheroes are folks who can often be called away at a moment's notice to face unbelievable threats, shoulder incredible burdens, and often receive little material reward for their action. They're much like soldiers, firefighters, rescue workers and police officers in that respect, but with higher stakes. Their lives have tension built in.
But making their lives nothing but misery and unhappiness is ultimately no less boring than having their lives be completely happy, because it isn't tension if someone's miserable all the time. Tension is caused when someone is at the risk of losing something they already have or possibly gaining something they want. If we know a character cannot be in a committed relationship, then all of the dating drama is tension free because there's nothing to gain or lose there. The character essentially exists in a state of limbo.
If someone's in a happy marriage, you can still have conflict and tension. Hell, Love and Capes
is an online comic that is all about examining what happens when a superhero gets happily married, but still has various trials and tribulations because of it. I mean, good grief, sitcom writers have been milking married life as story material for decades now.
It's kind of a sad thing that even with the characters dressing up in costumes, having outlandish superpowers, facing all manner of bizarre situations, it's often the relationships characters have that are handled the most immaturely in comics. Some writers wanted to seem to keep certain characters single so that they could have them go on an endless string of dates that will never go anywhere, basically to introduce false romantic tension and to let the character have a lot of one night stands and casual sex. And maybe that works for certain characters, but it's very much being stuck in a 'late teens/early 20's' idea of what dating is suppose to be, shallow and noncommittal.
I'll let sfdebris
explain it better than I could.
sfdebris wrote:The third bee in Quesada's bonnet was what's called the spider-marriage, that Peter is married to Mary Jane. Many of the arguments related to this are hollow. For instance, there's the "Spider-man became Billy Joel" concept (and really, for people arguing about being open for the young people, that sure is a goddamn old pop culture reference), because he's married to a supermodel. However, that's perhaps the easiest problem to fix; just one car accident and Mary Jane is no longer the drop-dead gorgeous woman she is. In fact, it would seriously shake up their relationship and offer some new storytelling options. That's part of the other argument: that Spider-man needs to be single so he can -and I can't believe I have to write this- be more like Archie. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think any Archie movie has made a half billion dollars. There are, it is said, more storytelling options that can be told with a single Spider-man than a married one.
Is that true? Yes, but not by as much as you think, because there are some stories that can only really be told with a married character. If anyone doesn't see that, then they're either not married, or they're not terribly observant. Being married and being in love are not the same thing at all - if it was, then why do people just live together without being married? Being married raises the stakes of the game. For instance, after Gwen was killed by the Green Goblin, Spider-man went off planning to kill him, but stopped himself before he could finish it. When, at the conclusion of Marvel Knights Spider-man Mary Jane is put in similar jeopardy, there's a lingering question in the reader's mind: if she dies, would he finish it this time? Because it would be much more than just killing the love of his life, it would be taking away the only person who said she loved him in and out of the costume, who knew the risks and said he was worth the risk, who was by his side through all the worst times, whom he once lost and then found again. A marriage means you're playing for keeps.