I'm not afraid to go out on a limb here: Marriage is weird. The whole concept used to make more sense because you actually had to do it to survive. Now you can choose to either get married or not and it doesn't matter either way. It's a weird concept, and it continues to be weird in practice, but of all the stories of marriage, one of the very strangest is the tale of Lois Lane and Clark Kent.
The comic series Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane is a bit notorious for the strange factor—mostly because modern audiences tend to look back on it and shudder at the sexism, which is blatant even in just the title alone. The series ran from 1958 to 1974 and was, at its highest point, the third best-selling comic in America. Most issues revolved around Lois Lane and Superman going out of their ways to trick each other for very little gain, including Lois trying to dupe Superman into marriage. I mean, what else would a star reporter based on real-life hero of journalism Nellie Bly be doing with her life, other than obsessing about some guy who barely gives her the time of day?
It all starts somewhat benignly, with Lois trying to fool Superman by doing things like pretending she can cook and accidentally de-aging herself to early childhood—but then she advances to things like, you know, marrying Satan. Lois really goes overboard coming up with bonkers scenarios under which to marry her longtime boyfriend, which makes her one of the most important characters of the equally bonkers time period she existed in. Even though it seems like Superman usually just says no to prove a point, no still means no, and it'd be a lot easier on everyone if Lois could have just chilled out a little bit. Since she couldn't, here's a few of the most absurd ways Lois Lane attempted to trick Superman into marrying her.
Trying to die (Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #101)
We talk a lot about Lois trying to trick Superman, but it was definitely a two-way street. One of the greatest tricks Superman pulled on Lois was to tell her he couldn't marry her for fear his villains might harm her to get to him. Considering the fact that he didn't apply that standard to withdrawing his name from the cover of her comic book series, I call BS. It all came to a head in a story where Lois dreams that Superman married her, then wakes up disappointed, thinking, “Well, if he won't marry me because he's afraid his enemies will harm me, maybe I should just show him I'm not afraid of death!” And that, dear readers, is when Lois Lane just straight up decides to die. Lois is no ordinary woman, so her attempts at death are likewise extraordinary. First, she volunteers to take an almost-certainly lethal injection. After she survives against all odds, she takes out an ad in the paper that basically says, “Hi, I'm Lois, try to make me die, here's my address, XO.” She goes parachuting, she almost gets ripped to pieces by the abominable snowman, she hangs out on the wing of a plane, and she straight up jumps right into a fire. This all happens in less than 25 pages, folks. By the end of the story, she basically just elects to stop trying to kill herself. Superman pretty much says, “lol, you kooky dame,” and that's a wrap. Even by the questionable standards of DC Comics of the 1960s, there is absolutely no moral here.
Pretending to be Batwoman (Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #14)
This one is pretty weird, because it's not just Lois trying to mess with Superman but a kind of disturbingly over-zealous Supergirl as well. When she sees Lois sobbing on her bed about how Superman will never marry her, Linda Lee decides that she cares way more than could be considered normal (she Supercares), so she gets into all kinds of hijinks trying to convince Superman that Lois is The One. She fails at every attempt, up to and including when she sends Batwoman's costume (no idea where she got it) and a forged note from Batman proposing marriage. Lois is angry at Superman for being a jerk to her all of the time, so she plays along by tossing on the outfit and laughing in his face. Superman concedes that, because Batman is his friend, he will walk away. Supergirl concludes that the most logical thing to do at this point will be to sneak into his bedroom and whisper “propose, propose!” while he sleeps, so he wakes up and proposes to every women he encounters, sending Lois into a sobbing fit. Supergirl, you need a better hobby.
Super-Perfume (Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #11)
In Lois' defense, this was only partially her idea. While she definitely didn't shy away from exploiting its effects, one Hugo Casimir was the perfume salesperson in disguise that shucked it to her. Claiming it was Cleopatra's perfume, he sells Lois on the idea after convincing her skeptical self that it'll win over all the men. Which it does. But it turns out they're all just the same guy in multiple disguises, because villains in the 1950s were all about that long game. This plays out over several pages until the real Superman shows up to dive in through Lois' window and propose to her, to which she agrees. Joke's on Lois, though, since it turns out Superman was just trying to catch Casimir and knew what he was up to all along—because he was watching all this happen from space. I just need us all to take a step back and really absorb what an utter and complete jerk Superman is in this story. Lois is actually an incredibly good sport about the whole thing, way moreso than usual, and just kind of shrugs and walks off, content that her boyfriend just fake-proposed to her to get the better of a villain whose purpose we still don't really understand. The end? Okay.
De-aging and blackmail in a single story (Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #42)
This story begins with Lois snapping a photo of Superman that will, for some reason, be a special pic that will reveal his secret identity, because Science. While she doesn't intend to tell anyone about it, she does mean to use it to blackmail the holy living hell out of one Mister Superman. She shows up and promises to destroy the film if he'll marry her, which is just like... Lois. Come on. We've been through this a million times. This is not going to go great for you. Superman sadly agrees, then shows up the next day in her office. She laughs in his face and shouts, “My wedding day!” just to drive the point home that she's being a real jerk about this whole thing. He takes her to the Fortress of Solitude to let her check out the space and see if she really wants to live there. Because Lois is, to put it kindly, a bit headstrong, she picks up a random bottle and sprays herself in the face with it, which turns her into a teenager. Yep, that happens. She demands to marry Superman even though she's basically 12, and he's like, "Seems a little strange, but okay." After the clerk tells her there's obviously no way he can marry the two of them due to it being extremely weird, she throws a full-on temper tantrum and then sprays Superman in the face, too. Superman, why didn't you take the spray away from her? Well, you know what all that means. Now Superman's a teenager, too. Lois tries to marry him again, and again he keeps outsmarting her until they are both tiny little babies that can't even talk. The next day, the spray wears off and Superman once again escapes marrying his talented and beautiful girlfriend who he has clearly driven to madness. Happy ending? Sure.
Just ever so slightly selling her soul to Satan (Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #41)
Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane go to a performance of the play Faust, because in this issue they are pretending to be friends. Lois is convinced that the actor playing Faust, named Lance, is in love with her, and goes on a little monologue about how Superman is the only man she could ever love. (Sidenote: the theater almost burns down.) Later, a Lance-alike shows up in Lois' apartment, waving a contract in her face. She definitely signs it in spite of suspecting it might be fake, because why wouldn't you? A few weeks pass with nothing happening before Lois decides to fly a tiny helicopter to the lake of fire where Satan lives in order to call him out. Not for being Satan, but because Superman hasn't proposed yet. Of course, Superman shows up right at that moment and proposes to her. He uses his heat vision to carve “I love L.L.” into the side of a mountain. 20 minutes later, he returns, yelling, “Why did I do that?! Red kryptonite!” and punches said mountain into oblivion. I'm reading the same story you are, folks, it doesn't make a darn bit of sense to me. Satan laughs in Lois' face, then tells her he'll be back (they always come back). It turns out that this whole time, Superman had overheard Lois make the joke, “I'd sell my soul to become Mrs. Superman!” which he thought was just a little too boisterous of her, so he set all of this up to trick her, which he tells her AT THE ALTAR. To which she responds, “Yeah, I know!” because, here's the twist: Lois saw that “Satan” and “Superman” had the same handwriting on the contract. Seriously! So she throws flowers in his face and calls him a cad, which is an insult I am definitely bringing back, and declines his now-genuine attempt to marry her. This is one of the few times Superman had a comeuppance in that series, and it is sweet.
What's actually the most messed up thing about this is that there's no way I've reached the end of the list of bonkers ways that Lois repeatedly tried to trick Clark into marrying her over the years. The point is, while they might currently be a beautiful love story, it took a few hits and misses and webs of lies and manipulation and murder attempts and suicide attempts over the last eight decades to get them there. And isn't that really what love is all about?
Spoiler alert: that is absolutely, for certain, 100% not what love is all about. Kids, please don't try this at home.