Dec 1 2012 1:00pm

Love in a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Three Good, Bad, and Star-Crossed Star Wars Romances

A Galaxy of Loving, Who Knew?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

The Perfect Summary to their Relationship...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

Feel the Angst!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

Heir to the Empire by Timothy ZahnThis 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.

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Jordan R
1. jrojrojro
I have always been wary of the Star Wars continuation books, but you've convinced me to join the dark side! Holidy plans made!
Christopher Morgan
2. cmorgan
@jrojrojro Like I said, be forewarned, there is a lot of pretty bad stuff in the Expanded Universe. Be sure and do your research on the authors. I normally always suggest Timothy Zahn to any fan of the orignial trilogy. Another of my favorites is Michael Stackpool, his series follows Rogue Squadron, the squad of pilots that flew with Luke at Yavin, Endor, and Hoth. That reads a bit more like a BSG episode and doesn't have much in the way of Romance, mostly just Action. I've not read much of the stuff set around Episodes 1,2, and 3 though. Except of course Zahn.
3. Danielle1234567
Hold me like you did by the lake at Naboo.
I really think the worst part of Padme was the end of the movie and how/why she died. It quite frankly made me angry. She was nothing like Leia.
4. Kiwi3p0
Frankly being a long long long time StarWars fan I enjoyed Episodes 1,2, and 3 with 3 ranking as one of my all time favorites. While 1 and 2 don't make my list I still enjoyed seeing a back story on the chracters that led up to episodes 4-6. Anakin should never have become a Jedi and the reasons for this came about through those episodes and led to him becoming Darth Vader and that included his relationship with Padme. While Padme was no Leia she was Leia's mother and I can pick out certain traits that you could see between the two. Hands down the best Love story was Han and Leia. You cant beat that. But you cant knock out Padme and Anakins relationship cause it was one of the main things that led to Anakins fall to the Dark Side
Christopher Morgan
5. cmorgan
@Kiwi I'm glad you brought this up. I'll agree that Episode 3 is the best of the three. However, I disagree that it was the relationship between Ani and Padme that brought about his fall. I completly empathize with Anakin's fall, it's one of the few parts of his character that I agree with. I blame Mace Windu solely for this. Mace was supposed to be a paragon of virtue and justice, and instead he wanted to execute the Emperor on the spot. Palpatine knew Mace, and knew that that's what he wanted. He manipulated Anakin so that Ani would see the cracks in the Jedi's foundations. No, I have a problem with how whiney Ani was. He had a hell of a friend in Obi Wan, and an amazing support structure, but all he ever did was go and whine to the evil, geniuns, manipulative overlord. He failed Qui Gon, and that is an unforgivable offense.

As to Padme and Leia. Which characteristics are you talking about? Remember that Leia and Luke never knew either of their parents. I can certainly see more Bail Organa in Leia than Padme at least. We never get to see Padme cut loose like we did with Leia. All we ever see her do is complain about the fall of freedom and shoot a blaster while surronded by soldiers and body guards. Artoo does more in the first three films than Padme.
6. huntece
Don't know how well they would hold up now that I am older (its in the jfic/ya category) but the jedi apprentice series had a pretty good romance in it between Qui-Gon and another jedi master Tahl even though it ended tragically (maybe because it ended tragically).

I agree with the Anakin/Padme comments. They had absolutly no chemistry. I think Portman had more emotional (nonromantic) chemistry with the young Anakin which is sad because their romance/the thought of losing padme is suppose to be a driving influence for anakin going evil. I think the independent take charge Padme shows up in the 1st movie but once she becomes the romantic interest thats all she is as a character. And really who can be interesting when their character revolves around being in love with a whiney man who was more badass as an 8yr old :P
7. Lisa L.
Actually, Leia did know Padme (a horrible inconsistency in epidsode III from VI). But I agree, I think Leia gained a lot of environmental characteristics from her adoptive family than from her natural mother.

I am like you, Mr. Morgan- I can't bear episodes I-III but can appreciate the history of them. I loved seeing young Yoda, but couldn't stand Anakin from the start and his romance with Padme was just egregious. Not believable at all. I always thought there was much more chemitry between Obi Wan and Padme.

If you want to get REALLY geeky, you can bring in the "Clone Wars" cartoons and talk about the star crossed lovers of Obi-Wan and Duchess Satine.
Christopher Morgan
8. cmorgan
@Lisa I agree with you on the chemistry between Obi Wan and Padme, the last 15-30 minutes of Episode III where you see a fully Dark Ankian showing down with Obi Wan and then the jealousy angle is all really cool. It's like the prequels hint at being awesome, but just fall a little short.

I've not watched much of the Clone Wars. I saw the first few episodes and the cutsey ness of it grated on me a bit, decided I had aged out. But I have heard/read that these later seasons deal with a lot more interesting and dark subject matter, so I may give it another chance. More so if my boy Ben finally gets a girl.
Kiersten Hallie Krum
9. Kiersten
Tim Zahn is my go to for the extended series too. Haven't ventured much beyond as writing is key for me.

Star Wars was my first science fiction love, and Han my first bad boy/scoundrel crush. I was so excited for the prequel films but the disappointment is great. I agree w/just about everything you've said re:Ani & Padme ESPECIALLY how she died. Gimme a break. III is my favorite of the prequels, which I think is faint praise, mostly b/c of that last duel w/Obiwan but also because we finally got some forward momentuum b/c they didn't have to drag it out any more to fit 3 into movies. Plus Ewan was the best thing in those prequels & really got to shine in III.
10. VAharleygirl
I'm with you on Padme/Anakin.

And please, give "Clone Wars" another gander - while it is geared at kids, there's definitely a darker thread that runs through it particularly in seasons 3 & 4.

It's managed to hook my mid-60s parents into becoming regular viewers - and my mom is by no means a SciFi 'geek', and even dad isn't much of a SW fanboy.
becky moe
11. beckymmoe
Were we seperated at birth? I absolutely agree with every word you've said about Han and Leia. Every. Word. If I didn't actually stand up and applaud in the theater when Han and Leia had that exchange, God, I wanted to. (I honestly don't remember. But it is one of my all-time favorite quotes from the "good three", or the "real Star Wars movies" as I usually call them (and not just to annoy my junior high students, who almost all always actually PREFER episodes I-III over them--though annoying them is, of course, a bonus. Kids these days....))

You also hit the nail on the head about the actors in episodes I-III. The little kid Anakin couldn't even make "Mom, I'm home," sound realistic--a line he surely must have actually said in real life at least once, yes? Everything about the Anakin/Padme relationship was disturbing, from the squick factor of their ages and appearances when they met to each and every scene their older versions were in. Just. Wrong.

I've only read a few of the other Star Wars books, and none for a really, really long time--but may give Tim Zahn's a try. Thanks for the suggestion!
12. Shark with Lasers
"If this weren't Star Wars, it'd be a Romance book. Hell, it probably is a romance book out there somewhere."

It is. It's called The Courtship of Princess Leia, and mileage varies as to how well it succeeds at portraying their romance. Personally I think it's a fail as a continuation piece, but as an unxpectedly cracky bit of awesomely bad, it's all kinds of unintentionally hilarious. "Tell her to ride your Rancor" indeed!
13. Kiwi3p0
I didn't mean to imply that Padme and Ani's relationship was the only thing that brought about Ani's fall to the Darkside. I simply meant that it was part of it. Palpatine used that factor to his advantage to help sway Anakin to the Darkside. Ani feared that Padme would die and Palpatine knew of a way to save her. It was simply one more way to tempt Anakin to the Dark Side. The chracteristics I see between Leia and Padme are that they both will fight for what they want and believe is right. Padme wasn't afraid to pick up a blaster gun and fight and neither was Leia...
14. SassyT
Han and Leia: That scene was the best ever. Even when I watch it now (the you...not a fan of the add-ons), I just smile. They are totally awesome. My favorite couple. They have the best lines (next to R2D2 of course).

Anakin and Padme: You nailed it. They suck. I can't understand how Anakin ended being the badass that was Darth Vader and that both he and Padme had such spectacular kids (Luke and Leia). I wanted them both to die quickly. Sorry. They got on my nerves.

Luke and Mara: I've never read the tie-in books but I've heard a lot about Mara Jade from much more serious Star Wars enthusiasts (i.e. folks who've actually read the books). She sounds like a cool character and lets face it....Luke needs some love too.
Christopher Morgan
15. cmorgan

Ok, I'll give you that. I did love Palpatine in the prequels. And I think they did a great job showing the seduction of the dark side. I think Lisa L put it good. We See Padme cut loose in the first one. She does channel Leia there, or Leia channels her mom, but once she becomes a senator she just spends most of her time ust being a plot device, not really acting any more. I still kind of shudder everytime I see that scene in clone wars where she survived a helicopter crash (or star wars equivalent) and just pops up and says "Let's go help!".

I was talking about it all with a friend, and I think I've come to the conclusion that the reason I so dislike Anikan and Padme is the actors they chose to play them. I really think my dislike for the prequels stims from the poor acting. And what the did to Boba Fett. And Jar-Jar. But everyone hates Jar Jar.
16. Antonio Angelo
I loved this article blog whatever the heck you call these things it couldnt have been more right on.

As a fan of the originals I had so much hope for episodes 1 2 and 3 and was absolutely devastated by them.

All I have to say is they were perfectly set up for awesomeness and just completely missed. How about this story line as an alternative- Anakin grows up as a jedi loyal to the empire, after his slave mother dies, as he ages he begins to feel the empire could have done more, the constant politics and bickering of the democracy are a source of frustration, he sees more innocent life lost and he decides to help the emperor take direct control and rid the galaxy of corruption. he is so blinded by his hatred of the inneffieciency he misses the signs the emperror is not altruistic, The emperor learns of his wifes pregnancy and sends him far away to battle rebels. while away his beloved wife dies still believing he is a good man which he was right up until she died. Then he decides to take control, embraces the darkside and goes over the edge, he never needs to kill a room full of school kids, no he just rules with an iron fist, cleanses the galaxy of the rebels who he considers evil for fighting against the emperors rule. There would that be so damn hard LUCAS. we didnt need you to make darth bad, we needed you to give good reasons for him to be bad and still be redeemable in return of the Jedi.

ok rant over sorry good article i will go back to playing with my action figures.
17. Susan00024
Luke and Mara. :) I love them as a couple. And there is romance in the X-Wing Rogue Squadron series -- Corran and Mirax, Tycho and Winter, Wedge and Iella.

Hmmm... I think I need to re-read that series. :)

And, as far as I'm concerned, Zahn's Heir to the Empire trilogy will always be the only true Episodes VII thru IX. (I have very little faith that Disney will create anything to rival it.)
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