Dec 7 2012 12:00pm

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

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

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

Love in a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Three Good, Bad, and Star-Crossed Star Wars RomancesOh, these two. How I hate this romance. It’s whiny, 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 Hamill and Harrison Ford completely 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 aspirations, she is getting chained to pillars, knocked out, or whining about how her and Anakin’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 whiny 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

Love in a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Three Good, Bad, and Star-Crossed Star Wars RomancesThis 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 Expanded Universe 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 midicholorians, 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 Karrde. It is while she is employed with Karrde 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 that 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 Happily Ever After 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?

This article originally appeared on Heroes & Heartbreakers.

Christopher Morgan lives in New York City, and may not be a romance virgin anymore...but he’ll always remember his first.

1. LS
Oh come now. No Mirax and Corran? Most undervalued romance in the entire EU.
Margot Virzana
2. LuvURphleb
@1 well to be fair he did only reference the skywalker line.

However in the continued essence of fairness i also say that Corran and Mirax FTW! They were adorable in the x wing series.

Han and Leia:

No joke my husband has done the line to me before. Several times in fact but not too much to blur the meaning.

Anakin and Padme:

I do like natalie portman. I do not like hayden christensen. Whine whine whine. Bleck! Also the dialogue between the two- "i love the water"
Or "i hate sand". Rifftrax had fun with those lines. I mean, bleck. All of it bleck. Anakin was basically raping her with his eyes in episodes II & III.

Luke and Mara:

Best match EVER! poor Luke spent every adventure after endor finding than losing a potential mate. Some were strong and likable- truce at bakura. Some were like anakin possessed: callista. Spare me the eye of palpatine story line. Finally he married Mara and everyone was glad and relieved.

Their son however did have some Anakin like moments though
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
3. Lisamarie
Love this :D

Okay, I'm a prequel fan BUT! I totally agree with you about Anakin and Padme, that is pretty much the biggest flaw in the movies in my opinion - I like RotS Anakin (as a character) but AOTC Anakin was just creepy and akward and the dialouge totally sucked. Even bigger than Jar Jar. Midichlorians rock, though, I say this as a former microbiologist (I love bacteria/microbes!!!), and also somebody who is very interested in the intersection between the physical world and mystical world - so I thought it was quite neat.

I loved Luke and Mara. I mean, yeah, I was a huge Han/Leia fan, but I was pretty much in love with Luke Skywalker. I disliked most of his EU romances. Luke and Mara were cool though - and a lot of the later EU irritates me actually, because it is so bleak and gritty.

Mirax and Corran are also awesome :D

As for 'bad' (or maybe star crossed), I'd have to go with Jacen/Tenel Ka. And I don't even want to touch the hot mess that is Anakin/Tahiri. Or Daala/Liegus.

I recall being quite touched by the interspecies Gavin/Asyr romance in one of the X-wing books - if I remember that had a very star-crossed quality to it. I don't think they stayed together (didn't she fake her own death). But my favorite of all the star-crossed ones might be Etain/Darman in Traviss's books (which I actually really enjoy on their own as stories exploring the morality of exploiting cloned soldiers and potential flaws in the Jedi or at least an alternate viewpoint - but at the same time I feel like she takes it way too far and she's created a big stir in the fan base because of it).
Christopher Morgan
4. cmorgan
I was trying to Stick to Skywalkers, because of the familiarity. I've also been told about the Obi Wan romance in Clone Wars which I initially gave up on because I couldn't stand the whole "Sky-Guy" "Snips" cutesy-ness of it. But I've since heard that I should give it another go.

@3 I have actually deffended the Midichlorians to my friends, and I will say that when they introduced the idea I instantly remembered one of my favorite Playstation games that featured a whole magic system based around Midichlorians, which I can't for the life of me remember the name of.

Upon reflection it is mostly the acting in the prequels that I so dispise, other than a few elements *cough Jar-Jar and Fett *cough. I do really like the showdown between Anikan and Obi Wan in III, and really appreciate Anikan's fall, just can't stand the actor at all.
Christopher Morgan
5. cmorgan
I have found out that the game in question was Parasite Eve, and the magic system revolved around Mitochondria. Ok, I don't know about you guys but I feel better now.
S Cooper
6. SPC
I thought Wedge and Qwi Xux were cute. Han and Leia are perfect (except I don't remember The Courtship of Princess Leia being as convincing as I'd hoped). I didn't make it through all the Luke/Mara books, but I didn't buy the romance from the early ones. She was awesome, but I didn't get the pairing. Another vote for Anakin/Padme having a bit too much "ick" factor.
Sol Foster
7. colomon
Nothing to add on romances in the EU, but "Where’s the all out Han Solo-like swagger?" was like an epiphany to me. That is exactly what the prequels needed: swaggering, swashbuckling Anakin. The overall story arc could be exactly the same, but the character at the center would be a thousand times more likeable. It would make Revenge of the Sith feel like an actual tragedy and not just going through the motions to get things in place for A New Hope.
Christopher Morgan
9. cmorgan

It was hard not putting them in there. It was also a pretty close call between Han's true love, Leia or Chewie.
Chris Nelly
10. Aeryl
See, I don't know, as terrible as Christensen was, I wouldn't have believed a Vader that acted like Solo, though Anakin is not lacking in arrogance. I thought tortured little emo kid who can't learn to let go, and grows up to kill the Jedi was a story that worked much better, and Sith is full of tragedy left and right, as you realize all the mistrust is driving everyone to make the worst decisions.

Obi Wan knew the method to bring back the dead, but because Anakin never talked to him about it...

If Windu had brought Anakin with him to capture Palpatine, it would've gone better.

If the council hadn't deliberately snubbed Anakin over his admission to the council, he wouldn't have gone running to Palpatine for moral support.

Of course Palpatine was banking on things falling out exactly as they did.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
11. Lisamarie
I thought it was Qui-Gon that had discovered the secret for 'cheating death' (although it wasn't really bringing back the dead), or at least transcending it. I didn't realize Jedi could actually bring back the dead (unless there is some EU/Clone Wars series thing I am unaware of) and isn't the point kind of that we have to accept death as part of life and that's what Anakin couldn't do and part of what led to his fall? There is probably a paralell to be made here with Lord of the Rings and the idea that the Elve's temptation regarding the Rings was to extend life in Middle Earth indefinitely but I'm a bit too lazy to articulate it right now.

That said, I agree with you about Anakin's story arc (although it is also possible he could have been a bit more swaggery, at least on the surface, without ruining it). But I actually liked Christensen in RoTS...I just don't like him in AOTC and the whole romance thing is unbelievable (although some of the deleted scenes help a LITTLE). Basically I just go into ROTS pretending that there is a beleivable romance I just didn't see, haha. Makes Padme and Anakin's actions a bit more believable.
Chris Nelly
12. Aeryl
It actually comes from the original movie's book. After Luke is attacked by the Sand People, its pretty explicit than Luke's dead.

Now, remember that moment where Obi-Wan arrives and touches Luke's face. Artoo makes a relieved sound, and Luke wakes up. Now think on the moment when he leaves Padme's ship to examine her after Anakin's attack. He also touches her face(the gesture is eerily similiar, IMO). She was dead, not unconscious(it makes no sense that he would stop strangling her, especially after having his jealous suspicions "confirmed" by Obi Wan's arrival), and because she knew the man she loved had killed her, she allowed herself to die after birthing the twins.

I like Anakin's story, but I don't like the actor portraying him(though I do in other things, Takers is awesome), and I find Padme's affection for him completely unbelievable. It's like Lucas knew these two had to be together, so it happens, but there is nothing supporting it onscreen, IMO. She is an accomplished woman, what could she possibly see in a whiny child? I guess we're supposed to buy that the force of his love draws her in, especially when they face death in AotC.

The age difference doesn't bother me, because I know she's supposed to be 13 in Menace(though Portman is older and can't sell it and who elects a 13 year old queen anyway?), which is only 5 years older than Anakin looks. It's just their difference in maturity, she understands that you can't always have your way. Anakin, learned that as a slave, but believed being a Jedi meant he did have to live by that rule anymore, and seeks to keep everything he loves and can't deal with loss, so you can see why he makes the decisions that he does.

AoTC is better than people give it credit for as well, because it begins to show how the rot has set in to the Jedi Order. The Order was what drew the Force out of balance in the first place, the rise of Sidious was in response to that. They've become meddlesome, superior and aloof, and I think that their divorce from more carnal passions has also short circuited their capacity for compassion(much like some might observe about some other orders that hold to that particular belief). Did they deserve to be wiped out? No, but cosmic justice tends to be pretty, well, cosmic.

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