In light of its recent sale to Disney, and the fact that I watched a six-movie marathon over the Thanksgiving holiday, I feel like now is a good time to visit a franchise almost as dear to my heart as The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I am talking, of course, about Star Wars.
Now, just like Tolkien was doing PNR and sneaking romance in on us pre-teen boys long before we wanted to read kissing stories, Star Wars was prepping us for an appreciation of Romance even before our collective young minds where shattered by the revelation that *spoiler* Darth Vader was Luke and Leia's dad. Now, a lot of you out there were probably on to this before me because, well I'm slow, but I'd like to raise a glass to the romances of Star Wars: The Good, The Bad, and the Star-Crossed.
I will warn all of you that I am a bit of a purist when it comes to the Original Trilogy; my Han shot first and my aliens aren't computer generated. If you are a fan of episodes 1-3, I'm sorry. Not for the possible offense I might cause, but for the death of taste and child-like wonder you are bringing about in the world. Ha! I kid. Kind of... Now, onto the loving!
Han Solo and Leia Organa
Honestly. This is the romance that all others are judged by, in my book. You show me a guy that is a Star Wars fan, and I'll show you someone who wants to be Han, and secretly wants his significant other to dress as Slave Leia, but that is another discussion for another time. Leia was just a starry-eyed idealistic princess from the ill-fated planet of Aldaraan, Han was just a bad boy from a bad neighborhood on the planet Corellia. She was looking to throw off the shackles of oppression, and he was looking to clear a price on his head. If this weren't Star Wars, it'd be a Romance book. Hell, it probably is a romance book out there somewhere.
Seriously, you could write TOMES about the chemistry between these two. And I promise you that my fellow men and I only dream that we could pull off THAT scene in Empire. You know the one:
Leia: “I love you!”
Han: “I know.”
Leia is the kind of girl who doesn't take any crap at all. She technically saves herself from the Death Star, or at least saves Han, Luke, and Chewie. And I blame her entirely for my disdain of weak heroines who have to be saved. She even woke the prince from a seemingly eternal slumber. Only the great and mighty Whedon has consistently created ladies of similar strength.
And Han, well, he is freaking Han Solo, that's all I need.
Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala
Oh, these two. How I hate this romance. It's whiney, there is no chemistry at all, and it is so poorly executed.
When they meet, Anakin looks like he is about 7 and Padme looks like she is 18, which is just weird. Now, granted, a lot of this, I believe, is a result of poor casting. While Natalie Portman is just as pretty as Carrie Fisher, she just can't do genre movies. Carrie Fisher WAS Leia, just like Mark Hammill and Harrison Ford completly owned there respective roles. I used to say that in Episodes 1-3, the actors were too aware that they were in a Star Wars movie. With the exception of a couple, namely Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor, the actors were all a bit too much. But I'm getting off track. It was always hard for me to get pulled into the story of Padme when the actor playing her was just so stiff and wooden. But I'll try, for you.
Padme was the child ruler of an entire planet. Then she became a senator who worked effortlessly to get the Emperor into power. And when she is not subverting the galactic order and instilling power-hungry Sith with dictatorial asperations, she is getting chained to pillars, knocked out, or whining about how her and Anikan's love is forbidden. Where is Leia's independence, her kick-assery? Padme is just to willing to be acted upon; she has no agency, no awesome.
Speaking of wood, Hayden Christensen is just awful—AWFUL—as Anakin. Who knew that Darth Vader was such a whiney little brat with a perpetual pout on his face? Where's the all out Han Solo-like swagger? Sure, the guy is maybe the more cerebral hero. But, it's very difficult to feel empathy for the guy when everything he does is so clearly wrong. And when he does seal the deal with Padme, you can't help but wonder if she didn't just feel sorry for the guy. I don't get it. Someone might have to explain this one to me.
Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade
This brings me to the couple that isn't that mainstream. (That's right, I just played the Hipster Star Wars kid card.) It's part of the Expanded Universe, in which, like almost all media tie-in novels, gems of story-telling can be hard to come by. However, author Timothy Zahn is one of the best. And he created one of the only non-canon characters to consistently make it to the top of most “Greatest Star Wars Characters” countdowns.
First introduced in Heir to the Empire, Mara Jade is a special agent/assassin to Emperor Palpatine during the rebellion; she is also force-sensitive (which isn't the result of midicholorines, damn it). Following the demise of the Emperor at the hands of Luke Skywalker, she begins working as a mercenary and eventually starts working with a smuggler known as Talon Karde. It is while she is employed with Karde that she first comes into contact with Luke. Keep in mind that she has been telepathically compelled to assassinate the Emperor's killer.
Luke is just a farm boy from Tatooine that gets swept up in a crazy galactic rebellion. He soon finds out that he has it in him to become a kind of magic, space priest-wizard known as a Jedi. He also finds out that his long-lost dad is the embodiment of menace and fear known as Darth Vader. He never gets a girl in the original trilogy, but he does become the very last Jedi alive in the galaxy, and buries his Sith-Lord father after managing to talk him back from the Dark Side. So you might say that he is a little lonely towards the end.
Luke and Mara's relationship follows much of what Han and Leia went through, open hostility eventually grows into genuine affection. Luke, dear, sweet Luke, sees that there is an inherent goodness to Mara, and Mara slowly comes to terms with the fact that she served an evil man, not someone who was just trying to keep order. As their love grows, Luke trains her as a Jedi and they actually have a kid. The good news is that Mara eventually fulfills her compulsion by killing an evil clone of Luke.
But theirs is a love not meant to last, and like all of Luke's relationships, it ends with death; in this case Mara's at the hands of an evil Jedi. Now, as Obi Wan pointed out, we know that Jedi only ever get more powerful when you get cut down by a Sith right? So the Mara-Luke HEA doesn't end with her death, you'll just have to figure it out on your own though. Seriously, start with Heir to the Empire, you can thank me later.
Anyway, those are my Good, Bad, and Star-Crossed Star Wars couples. Do you have a favorite? What makes them stand out to you? Was I too hard on Ani and Padme?
Christopher Morgan lives in New York City, and may not be a romance virgin anymore...but he’ll always remember his first.