Love and evil. They go hand in hand. Both of them make people do a whole lot of illogical stuff. In comics and television, evil villains end up in long-term relationships with one another, and in an odd way, it makes sense. Supervillains are out here redefining #RelationshipGoals while most superheroes are too busy brooding to find true love. Sounds about right.
While relationships like Harley and the Joker can’t be considered even remotely healthy, there are plenty of strangely endearing, surprisingly functional supervillain couples to talk about.
MALLAH AND BRAIN
This is one couple far greater than the sum of its parts. Introduced long ago as Doom Patrol villains, Monsieur Mallah is a highly intelligent talking gorilla with a penchant for berets and machine guns, while Brain is a brain in a weird jar on wheels who sometimes gets a sort-of body only to see it quickly destroyed via whatever harebrained scheme the pair has come up with. While reading comics with these two may require a more-than-average level of disbelief suspension, they can still be a fun read. When they became a canon couple, it might have been as a weird joke on them or on queer people in general or both, but somehow it ended up being kind of endearing.
Although often referred to as being both misguided and at least borderline offensive, somehow Brain and Mallah also became a fan favorite for many queer people along the way. There’s something so outlandish about their dynamic to begin with that the choice to make them lovers honestly came off as romantic.
MYSTIQUE AND DESTINY
They're one of the most frustrating couples on the list, but also one of the best. Mystique and Destiny were intended to be written as a couple from day one, but Marvel had an editorial edict in place that prevented inclusion of queer characters. The very idea that a shapeshifter would be fully straight seems a bit absurd, but okay. The two were introduced in X-Men comics as members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, eventually changing their name to Freedom Force when they were contracted by the government. Destiny sacrificed her life to save Mystique’s, and she’s been in freefall ever since.
As recently as the relatively short-lived Wolverines ongoing series, Mystique was willing to sell out her team, what remained of her friends and family, and, well, the entire universe just for a chance to be with Destiny again. She’s far from moral, but there’s something genuinely heartbreaking about Mystique’s love for Destiny, which is somehow compounded by the fact that their relationship was closeted until long after Destiny’s death.
ISIS AND BLACK ADAM
Black Adam has been a big jerk for a very long time. One of the classic Marvel Family villains and recurring antagonist for the JSA, Adam is a villain that goes completely overboard in proving that he’s ruthless and terrible because he’s got some ax to grind with the world from a million years ago or whatever. It’s sort of justified, but he’s still pretty awful. That is until he fell in love with Isis, who was a pacifist. She had a great influence on him, convincing him to change his wicked ways and bring peace to the world rather than war.
This relationship almost doesn’t belong on this list, because it really isn’t until her last moments as a living person that Isis just says “the heck with it” and goes full villain. When Isis is poisoned by the villain Pestilence and lies dying in Adam’s arms, he tries to assure her he’ll uphold her peaceful ways, to which she responds, “Oh no you won’t! I’m going to need you to kill everyone involved in this.” Adam obliges, but later, when he has the chance to save her soul from the corruption that ruined their last moments together he does, so it’s a love story after all, everybody! Maybe. You take what you can get, you know?
AMORA AND LOKI
Amora’s most prominent relationship is with the Scourge, while Loki’s most prominent relationship is with himself, but we’re including them here for a few reasons. First, Amora’s relationship with the Scourge isn’t great. She tends to just manipulate and use him. It’s weird to feel bad for a guy named “Scourge,” but Amora is mean enough that she can make you sympathize with some pretty surprising characters. Likewise, Loki has bad relationships with EVERYONE. Somewhat paradoxically, their relationship with each other, while never something either of them puts that much focus into, may be the healthiest one either of them has.
Amora and Loki are both the worst people in Asgard in their own unique ways, but when they team up, it’s always a lot of fun. In Agent of Asgard, Loki and Amora find themselves suddenly “turned good,” at which time they both become incredibly pretentious, chiding others for their immorality. From someone whose name is literally “amoral” minus one letter, that might be rich, but it gives a good example of the dynamic between the two of them. While both Loki and Amora have a tendency to view others around them as patsies, their inability to trick one another leads to a unique respect that neither ever really exhibits for anyone else. It’s… cute.
HARLEY QUINN AND POISON IVY
Introduced as partners in Batman: The Animated Series in the ‘90s and revealed to be a couple in comics in 2015, Ivy and Harley were hinted to be more than friends regularly over the 20 years between, making them one of the all-time slowest slow burn romances in comics. Much of that was due to hesitation on the part of publishers and producers, but when they finally did hook up, it was truly a beautiful thing.
While Harley Quinn’s upsetting relationship with the Joker will likely continue to overshadow much of her character growth in the DCU for some time to come, her relationship with Ivy in comics has always been based in equality and tenderness, and both of them have changed for the better over the last several years, in no small part to their influence on each other. While Ivy and Harley are ruthless villains, they do both still possess their consciences, which sets them apart from many of Batman’s villains. While their relationship usually ends on uncertain terms and requires a lot of breaks, they remain one of the best love stories in genre.
KILLER CROC AND ORCA
In the Injustice universe, where everything is much worse than in the regular DC universe, the Suicide Squad is pretty awful, but it turns out they’re also all pretty darn sentimental, too. When their teammates Killer Croc and Orca hit a snag in their relationship, Deadshot, Katana, Man-Bat and Captain Boomerang go hunt Croc down. Because they live in a reality where everything is terrible, Croc and Orca are somehow the shining rays of light that their teammates need to hold onto in order to keep believing in love. They convince Croc to propose to Orca, and she accepts.
Killer Croc and Orca are both terrible and both of them like eating humans a little too much, but darn it, if those two crazy kids can’t make it work, what chance do the rest of us have? Their marriage also gives us a moment of happiness for the rest of the team, who take it as a personal victory in their bleak dystopian lives. A happy ending? Sure! It’s actually way better than what happened to Orca in regular DC continuity, but the less said about that, the better.
SCANDAL SAVAGE AND KNOCKOUT
Introduced by Gail Simone in her Villains United and Secret Six runs, Scandal Savage is the “very-hard-to-kill” daughter of ancient jerk Vandal Savage. She, like most of us, hates her dad and does everything in her power to distance herself from him, while also low-key becoming a hired assassin with really cool knives attached to her wrists and a very Mortal Kombat-looking outfit.
Knockout was one of the many warriors on Apokolips who lived much of her life in servitude to the evil Darkseid before deciding she preferred Earth. She and Scandal both joined the Secret Six, and the two of them packed the absolute most relationship drama they could into a mini-series before Knockout was killed and Scandal was devastated. While Knockout was dead, Scandal pulled a Scott Summers and became involved with a lookalike. When Knockout came back, they all managed to make it work, and if that’s not a love story, I don’t know what is.
RITA REPULSA AND LORD ZEDD
Rita is a humanoid alien that Lord Zedd put in power, more or less saying “conquer Earth and I’ll be back to check on you in a while.” When he does return in the second season of Power Rangers, Rita has not conquered Earth due to those meddling kids, and an infuriated Zedd shrinks and banishes Rita so that he can… also not defeat them.
Later, Rita returns, giving Zedd a love potion. The two of them fall in love and get married, and they unite their efforts in trying to destroy the Power Rangers. As a team, they’re much more dangerous than either of them were alone, but as a married couple, they mellow each other out to the point of turning good and pretty much eventually go off and retire, which their evil son is absolutely disgusted by. Rita and Zedd, here’s to you.