No one actually wants to date a superhero.
Sure, it might seem appealing at first: they’re professionally good at being charming, and promise romance, thrills and adventure. You picture Lois Lane in Superman’s arms, in full flight, framed by the night sky—what could be more breathtaking?
Once the initial glamour wears off, though, the cons of dating a hero become immediately apparent. Let’s put aside, for a moment, that it drastically shrinks your potential lifespan, and you’re going to spend the entire duration of the relationship (and beyond) getting kidnapped once a fortnight. You’ll never be first in their life or heart; instead, some concept like Saving The World or Justice will always be their top priority. No event the two of you have will be pivotal enough that they won’t bail on you for some emergency or another. Forget time alone; you’ll either be surrounded by the rest of the heroic team, support staff, or adoring fans for the rest of your (shortened) natural life.
If you’re looking to settle down, the real long-term material is on the other side of the cape.
If brilliance, obsession, and a willingness to blow anyone who wrongs you off the face of the planet is your jam, there can really only be one choice: Victor Von Doom.
(With deepest admiration and respect to The Toast, Nicole Cliffe, Daniel Mallory Ortberg etc. for their perfect series, to which this is in direct homage.)
If Doctor Doom were your boyfriend, you’d realize quickly you have to find a way to deal with the whole name thing. You decide immediately you are never going to call him “Doom” in bed because you won’t be able to live with the embarrassment, so at first you don’t call him anything at all. It takes you almost too long before you try Victor for the first time, casually, in conversation; neither of you react, but you both enter a state of hypervigilance, aware of every breath and microexpression, for what seems like hours.
If Victor Von Doom were your boyfriend, you would wake up alone. He’s a morning person, alert in an instant and ready for science; by the time you grudgingly surrender to consciousness he’s been up and working for hours. But there would be a coffee on the nightstand that somehow, mysteriously, is exactly the correct temperature.
If Victor Von Doom were your boyfriend he would openly make a disgusted sound the first time you said “boyfriend,” which makes you wonder if you’ve assumed things for one awful second before he scoffs at how “undignified” the term is. He insists on using “chosen partner” from that moment on. You continue to use “boyfriend” to annoy him deliberately, just to make him scowl at you.
If Victor Von Doom were your boyfriend, you’d have to put up with a lot of heroes trying to talk you out of it. Like, a lot. Most would text. But, a few would actually show up in their terrible civilian disguises. “You’re making a terrible mistake,” they hiss as you are just trying to order a cappuccino and live your life, while you grit your teeth and try to make their heads explode via sheer willpower. “Before it’s too late,” they all say. It’s the one phrase that stays with you once the irritation settles, something you turn over and over in your mind. You wonder what “too late” means to them, and who is counting down.
If Victor Von Doom were your boyfriend, a few heroes would send you genuine texts in support. Not many, but a few. These texts always come at 3am. “He seems happier,” Peter Parker writes. He seems to mean it. “I’d ask you to keep him out of trouble, but I’m not putting that on you”
If Victor Von Doom were your boyfriend, he would be excellent at aftercare.
“Did I hurt you?” He would ask, attentively checking your fingers to make sure your circulation was fine.
“Yeah,” you would say, and laugh. He’d chuckle back at you, glowing with pride.
If Victor Von Doom were your boyfriend, you wouldn’t see what was under the mask. You respect his privacy, and he loves that about you. Instead, what you get to see is the mask he wears when no one else is around—not a piece of armor, but a garment. You would get to see the way the leather straps gave his hair weird dents and cowlicks when he put it on too soon after a shower.
If Victor Von Doom were your boyfriend, you’d know what his real laugh sounded like. Not his booming, triumphant victory laugh, the one that turned a thousand heroes’ blood to ice. The unguarded, joyful noise he made whenever you said something funny.
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If Victor Von Doom were your boyfriend, all of your electronics would seem to fix themselves as if by magic. Anything that was remotely mechanical would start working better. The day you happened to actually catch him changing the setting on your television, he would surprise you by dropping his eyes for just a second, seeming almost bashful. “All of your things should be optimized,” he would say. “You deserve it.”
If Victor Von Doom were your boyfriend, you would recognize that the moment he switched from first to third person was the moment at which you had to intervene in a situation. You would become the best Good Cop the world had ever known. And you would take great pleasure in choosing not to intervene when someone really deserved it.
If Victor Von Doom were your boyfriend, he would nearly die of embarrassment when you came to bed wearing tiny shorts with “Latverian Ambassador” written in gold letters across the ass.
“Please,” he would say, covering his eyes with one hand like a Victorian lady about to faint. “Take them off.”
“I really think,” you’d say, slinking over, causing him to thrash around like you were killing him, “that just a little rebranding could go a long way to redeeming your image.”
“Doom,” he would say, and you’d know that meant you were really in for it, “does not need rebranding.”
If Victor Von Doom were your boyfriend, you and Sue Storm would become embroiled in the greatest politeness war of all time. You would send each other absurd gifts and endlessly compliment each other at every opportunity. “She’s just such an icon,” you would say, and the next day she’d send you flowers. Reed Richards would be confused and infuriated by your relationship, but Victor would love it. He’d appreciate the value of psychological warfare, and help you pick out the next hideous curio to send over.
If Victor Von Doom were your boyfriend, he would read to you. The first time you asked, it was under the guise of needing help falling asleep, and finding his voice soothing, but he tells you, “You are allowed to want this simply because you like it.” It shocks you to your core, that little statement. You don’t have to explain or rationalize, you can simply want, and enjoy.
Natalie Zina Walschots is a writer and game designer whose work includes LARP scripts, heavy metal music journalism, video game lore, and weirder things classified as “interactive experiences.” Her writing on the interactive adventure The Aluminum Cat won an IndieCade award, and her poetic exploration of the notes engine in Bloodborne was featured in Kotaku and First Person Scholar. She is (unfortunately) the author of two books of poetry: Thumbscrews, which won the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry, and DOOM: Love Poems for Supervillains. Natalie sits on the board of Dames Making Games, a space for queer and gender-marginalized people to create games freely, where she hosts interactive narrative workshops. She plays a lot of D&D, participates in a lot of Nordic LARPs, watches a lot of horror movies and reads a lot of speculative fiction. She lives in Toronto with her partner and five cats. This is, arguably, too many cats.