Posted in: by Kathleen Murphy, Contributors, Essays

Girls Who Hook Up With Superheroes

Katie Holmes and Christian Bale as Rachel Dawes and Bruce Wayne

Give a listen to “Don’t Fall in Love with a Superhero,” a witty little dirge warbled by Khavn dela Cruz in A(ngst)-minor, before reading my ruminations about the weird, wonderful and often fatal hookups between misguided girls—from ordinary Mary Janes to exotics like Catwoman—and sexy superhunks. Khavn warns that such love may be “as uncanny as the X-men, as amazing as Spider-Man, as daring as Daredevil, but it will only break your heart … your little human heart. Don’t forget [he’s] a superhero … and you’re nothing but a human being.” And there’s the rub.

Lots of nice girls—Mary Jane Watson and Betty Ross, for two—fall for the nerdy boys their superheroes were long before the spider bit or the bat flew; before the nuclear lab blew up, turning a mild-mannered scientist into an atomic god; before an overdose of gamma rays let Hulk out to play. Others crush on these bad boys after the big metamorphosis, when protecting truth, justice and the American way has become their raison-d’être. Almost always, these idealistic American Beauties are hot to support their mutant-men and demon-lovers, despite risks to come.

But superheroes’ constant juggling of identities can’t help but put a crimp in—and endlessly interrupt—passionate embraces in a fragile ménage-à-trois like that of Rachel Dawes, Bruce Wayne, and Batman.

When everyday people fall in love, protective façades fade away and old secrets unravel. But how does super-love hold up, what with all that nightwork, the costumes, the masks, the shape-changing? Under that kind of pressure, even the most loyal and besotted of girlfriends can go a little bonkers. And surely even super-patience must start to fray when his main squeeze keeps getting kidnapped—again and again—by his foes? Seems like she’s always dangling precariously and screaming piteously, so that Spidey or Superman or some other aerial hotshot must drop everything—an imperiled schoolbus full of kids, for instance—to swoop in and save his lady love.

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