Star Wars’ Next Project Can’t Leave Out the Romance

Star Wars has always had romantic elements, but this side of the story seems to have diminished in more recent installments. The next Star Wars project should bring the series back to its romantic roots, as love stories have always counterbalanced and compelled the various political and dramatic intrigues of the series.

George Lucas partly intended Star Wars as a cinematic fairy tale, so it's only natural that romance would be a significant part of the franchise. It takes place in a completely original fantasy world, and the presence of relatable and familiar themes such as romance bring that incredible universe closer to home. What else makes romance so important in the Star Wars saga, and why should future projects bring it back?

The original trilogy of Star Wars films introduced the world to one of the all-time great sci-fi love stories: that of Leia Organa, princess of a destroyed planet, and the lowly smuggler Han Solo. Leia was repulsed by the scoundrel, and Solo complained about the princess' attitude. However, they ultimately fell for each other, and a generation of Star Wars fans came to understand "I know" as another way of saying, "I love you." Their unlikely love story highlighted the fairy tale feeling of the movies.

The Star Wars prequel trilogy also included an important romance plot but approached it from a different direction. Whereas Han and Leia's relationship told a rocky yet romantic story of people coming together under difficult circumstances, Anakin and Padmé's relationship became a theatrical tragedy. In fact, Anakin's love for Padmé was twisted into an obsession when protecting her at all costs became the primary cause of his turn to the dark side, making it a defining theme of the trilogy.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens revealed that Han Solo and Princess Leia's relationship had dissolved since the events of the original trilogy. It's understandable that having their son turn to the dark side would put a significant strain on their relationship, and perhaps it's a surprisingly realistic twist on their fairy tale love story. However, it could also be said to foreshadow how the trilogy would go on to downplay the romantic elements of the series.

The Force Awakens also introduced new heroes to the Star Wars galaxy, such as Finn, who was drafted into the evil First Order's stormtrooper army as a child. Early in the film, Finn's commanding officer, Captain Phasma, chastised him for removing his helmet after a traumatizing battle, emphasizing the dehumanizing nature of the First Order. When Finn escaped from his old life with the help of Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, it made sense that he would want to forge human relationships with his newfound freedom.

Finn flirted with the scavenger Rey in The Force Awakens, awkwardly asking if she had a boyfriend. Resistance operative Rose Tico kissed Finn in Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, professing her love. Many fans also ship Finn with Poe due to their enduring, mutually supportive relationship. Finally, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker saw Finn make a connection with Jannah, with whom he had a foundation of shared experiences, as she too was a former stormtrooper.

However, Finn's romantic plot threads went unresolved, and the rebel ended up single at the end of The Rise of Skywalker. Finn's kiss with Rose was not even referenced. Arguably the most romantic scene in the movie was the kiss between Rey and Ben Solo, but even this was immediately followed by the latter's death. It almost makes it seem like the Resistance was bound by the same ban on attachments enforced by the old Jedi Council.

The latest Star Wars screen project, The Book of Boba Fett, also seems to avoid opportunities for romantic stories. The brutal assassin Fennec Shand was a great foil to the eponymous bounty hunter, challenging his hands-off approach to leadership. In a flashback in Episode 4 of The Book of Boba Fett, Fett admitted that Shand's debt to him for saving her life was paid -- but she laconically offered to join him on his next mission anyway, ostensibly "for the ride." Shand clearly liked spending time with Fett even before he became a powerful daimyo, but they end the series as simply friends and colleagues in leadership.

If a creator's vision for a future Star Wars project doesn't accomodate romance, it shouldn't be shoehorned in. However, it would be surprising if none of the planned series or movies had the potential to revive the romantic elements that were so compelling in the original classics. Kylo Ren's reunion with his father's memory showed how familial love can change the tide of a war. Star Wars needs to remember that romantic love can be a powerful force as well.

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