Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex
He's faster than a speeding bullet. He's more powerful than a locomotive. He's able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Why can't he get a girl?
Whenever a character with the Powers of a GodTM
hooks up with a mere mortal, there is nearly always a bit of lurking Fridge Logic
which may or may not get addressed in the show itself, especially not if the show is aimed at kids. Expect fanfic to address it, quite a bit. Namely, that there is a very wide gap between one partner's physical strength and the resilience of the other's flesh, which can be an important factor during particularly, hmm, intimate encounters between the two.
Regardless of the trope title, any gender combo can be involved, though the Steel/Kleenex problem generally comes up in pairings where the 'steel' member is male
. 'Man of Kleenex, Woman of Steel' usually isn't considered as much of an issue
Contrast Power Perversion Potential
. Compare Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action
Anime and Manga
- Dragon Ball Z: On this very wiki, people have wondered how two ultra-powerful Saiyans (Goku and Vegeta) manage to have kids with two human women (Chi-Chi and Bulma).
- However, the characters in Dragon Ball Z have to power up before they can use their full power. Even prior to the Cell Games, which is when Goten was conceived, Goku was able to master the basic Super Saiyan form to the point where he could control his strength in said form at all times. Basically, if they have to power up to become stronger, they can probably power down until they are at average human strength, and even if they do not power down for 'intimate moments', they also seem to have a great deal of control over their power level. As in, they can pick up an apple without crushing it, or open a door without taking it off the hinges, etc..
- The fact that they can suppress their power levels, probably means they can chose to be weaker than they normally are.
- The long-dead fansite Anime Marriage Prospects discussed this in regards to A-Ko Magami, saying this (paraphrased): "Six words: Vaginal muscles that can crush steel. Have fun."
- Dance in the Vampire Bund has a mental illness example. The only way for a lycanthrope father to guarantee his son will also be a lycanthrope is to have sex with his wife while transformed. Sannin's mother was driven insane by the experience coupled with the sight of the newborn "hairy, inhuman thing". Akira's mother didn't get off much better. Though she wasn't driven insane, she did end up wheelchair-bound after delivering a second werewolf son.
- Surprisingly, this comes up in Shakugan no Shana. Luckily, there's an unrestricted spell that temporarily grant it's target strength equal to a flame haze.
- In Kamisama Kiss Nanami, an Ordinary High School Student, ends up falling for Tomoe, a Little Bit Beastly Kitsune. In addition to Super Toughness, Tomoe also sports quite a few magical powers such as shapeshifting and control over fire. He becomes more and more concerned about Nanami's safety as the story goes on, saying things like "I've got to be careful not to get her broken."
- "The Price of Justice" plays with this in the course of Black Canary investigating a series of strange deaths that resemble close-range shotgun blasts to the head.
- In With Strings Attached, Paul gains Super Strength and realizes to his horror that he can never have sex again. This hits home when he's given the option of schtupping a whole village full of Nubile Savages.
Paul was quite intrigued by the prospect of fucking his way through a bunch of women straight out of a teenage fanboy's imagination... until he thought about what he would do to a woman beneath him.
- "Days of Futures Past What Does That Mean It Kinda Sounds Sexy" a crossover fic of Naruto and Young Justice has Naruto saying that Superman might have let Project Cadmus acquire his dna and make Superboy due to Superman not being able to have a son naturally without tearing a girl in half
His jizz is probably like an AK 47
- Superman II. The title character gave up his powers in order to romance Lois Lane, which caused problems when the three Kryptonian super villains showed up. In the Richard Donner cut of the film, Superman and Lois Lane hook up and go to bed together before Superman gives up his powers. Perhaps they attempted coitus and Supes had to back off before the Steel/Kleenex problem killed her, and that's what motivated him to become mortal.
- A Brainwashed and Crazy but otherwise fully powered Superman also has sex with Lorelei Ambrosia in Superman III (admittedly it isn't confirmed but it is very heavily implied.) She obviously survived and judging by her affection for Superman for the rest of the movie clearly enjoyed the experience.
- The Incredible Hulk movie had addressed this (as his heart rate goes up, he has to stop them or risk changing). In the comics this isn't as much of a problem, as it is explicitly his anger, not his heart rate, that causes the change.
- Averted in The Avengers, where it's made clear it's Banner's anger that transforms him. Since both films take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe the inclusion of the idea in the former, whereas the latter drops it, is notable.
- Hancock plays with the trope for laughs in a Deleted Scene. The titular antihero has a handicap in womanizing because of the projectile lethality of his "projectile liquids".
- In The Time Traveller's Wife, we have an interesting variant. The husband and wife can have sex normally, but the fetus tries to time travel them when frightened — causing several miscarriages. Averted when the wife has a peaceful pregnancy late in the film.
- My Super Ex-Girlfriend has an inversion of this. Matt's apartment is already starting to crumble due to their Destructo-Nookie, and his genitals aren't doing much better either.
- Intentionally averted in The Incredibles in a somewhat interesting manner. In the film, super-strong Mr. Incredible is married to a fellow superhero Elastigirl, but as her name suggests, the aversion of the trope has nothing to do with her being on the same level of Super Strength and Super Toughness as her husband. Instead it's more a case of her powers complementing his, and as evidenced by the existence of their three children, she's apparently just stretchy and flexible enough to "survive" super-strength sex. It also must have made those births quite easy for her.
- Discussed many, many, many times by Brody in Mall Rats, to the point that Stan Lee is a little disturbed by his "obsess[ion] with heroic genitalia".
- This comes up as a Can't Have Sex, Ever plot point in the Twilight series. Alternate methods have been proposed (NSFW).
- In C. S. Lewis's novel Till We Have Faces, the character Psyche briefly mentions this, saying, "Sister, do you think young gods have to be taught how to handle us? A hasty touch from hands like theirs and we'd fall to pieces."
- A Woman of Steel example: the Rickshaw Girls in M. John Harrison's Light have modified their bodies to Amazonian levels, being very tall and muscled and with much increased stamina as their jobs involve an awful lot of running around towing heavy loads. One points out to her standard human male partner that he needn't worry about being gentle.
- They started to address this in Lois and Clark, with Clark not being sure if they could consummate their marriage let alone have offspring. Then in the last episode they were left with a Doorstop Baby; it wasn't planned to be the last ep of the series, just the season, so the arc was aborted.
- Note that the couple did consummate their marriage, in the episode immediately after the wedding (There was an issue with Lois dying as a consequence, but that was because of a curse and not because of Clark's powers).
- The issue of being able to have children only first comes up in a scene where Lois and Clark's dialogue suggests that they have been taking actions to prevent the creation of a pregnancy, but in this last interchange did not. It is possible though that Dr. Klein is worried about this issue, and since he is so totally clueless as to not clue into a married women who obviously loves her husband being disturbed by the news that Superman ages much slower than human beings, it seems hard to believe that he is being subtle in his later admonitions to Superman about taking precautions.
- Also, in the episode where Clark loses fine muscle control due to Red Kryptonite exposure, there is a scene where he sees a bruise he accidentally gave Lois, and decides separate bedrooms would be safer for now.
- Smallville's version of Clark had the typical problem with his first love interest Lana Lang. The problem was eventually resolved when Clark was de-powered for an episode. But when his powers return, he actually complains to Chloe about his sex life. By the end of the show's run, he has gained enough control over his abilities that the problem no longer exists. He outright stated that his training at the Fortress of Solitude included learning exactly that sort of control. Apparently Jor-El never expected his son to remain a virgin for life.
- Sort of lampshaded in-universe in Season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where, during a fight with Spike, he taunts Buffy about a recent sexual encounter of hers (which ended badly) by saying "Were you too strong? Did you bruise the boy?"
- A minor example from Mass Effect 2: Female Shepard can romance and have sex with Garrus, a Turian squad member. Turians are an alien species adapted to a much harsher world than Terrans, leading to such lovely features as razor-sharp teeth and pointy bones protruding out of their skin. When the crew doctor, Prof. Mordin, catches wind of this, he immediately offers helpful advice on "positions comfortable for both species", as well as "oils and ointments to reduce discomfort". (It might help that Shepard is at this point a cyborg with bullet-resistant skin and nearly unbreakable bones.)
- Also, Male Shepard's romance with Tali, a Quarian (species with atrophied immune system), who has to pump herself with immuno-stimulants to even be able to touch Shepard. Interestingly, in both cases, it's the woman who is endangered by contact.
- And there is also advice about dealing with accidental telekinesis if one with such talent is involved in the romance.
- In both the cases mentioned above, there is also the question of amino-acid chirality. The difference in protein structure means that exchanging bodily fluids in any way could lead to both parties dying from anaphylactic shock.
- And then there's Fem!Shep flirting with Joker in Mass Effect 3. Joker proceeds to lampshade the trope immediately (unlike the other examples, Joker's the one in danger thanks to his very fragile bones and Fem!Shep, once again, being a super-strong Cyborg).
- Referenced in a strip of It's Walky!, although it's more a case of straight-up Destructo-Nookie.
Hotel employee: Man of steel, woman of Kleenex?
Angry hotel manager: No! Man of steel, woman of steel, bed of Kleenex.
- Oglaf has a story about the Snow Queen, spirit of winter, whose bodily needs have to be fulfilled or spring is not going to happen. Let's just say that even the most hot-blooded of men cannot take her freezing qualities and return home in one piece. It Gets Better though, when a clever adventurer happens by. With her trusty strap-on.
- Gender flipped with Yuki and Kobayashi in MegaTokyo.
- In a Palcomix comic called "Greenheat", The Martian Manhunter, while in heat, seduces several women, including Lois Lane, under the guise of their boyfriends. Afterwards, they catch him and reveal they knew all along. When he asks how they knew, Lois states that the real Superman never dares to be the active partner during sex.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has Superman turning down a potential love interest by citing this trope, who regretfully accepts the reality of it. The man Wonder Woman used the same logic with? Not so much.
- Mentioned in Interviewing Leather as one of the reasons why Leather only has other Supers as boyfriends.
- Expressly discussed in the Whateley Universe, particularly in "Sara's Little Purple Book" which explains how to deal with sex when you're a PK brick or a lightning Energizer or any of a couple dozen other types of powered being. Sara is a goddess of lust in the making.