I am not a cynic when it comes to romance in movies. I think a love interest can add a layer to any film, even if they aren’t love stories. Superhero films always work well if there’s that extra dimension to the ‘save the girl’ cliché. The stakes are raised even higher. Also, sometimes it is just nice to see a happy ending, which is summed up better with a love story. Seeing as a lot of action movies are basically the ideal male fantasy, the ‘walking off into the sunset with a girl’ storyline works even better.
At the same time, I am becoming a little annoyed with writers that simply couple up their strong female character, for the sake of a romantic sub-plot. I was happy that Joss Whedon didn’t give Black Widow a love interest, because she was a female character surrounded by male action heroes. Sure, if the story ends up warranting it, I’m all happy for it, but god, there needs to be some development and underlying connection between the two characters, before it can begin. Below are three love stories that just happened, rather than building up any sense of true love.
3 – MAN OF STEEL – CLARK AND LOIS
Of course, Clark Kent and Lois Lane would get together at the end of Man of Steel. It is one of the greatest comic book relationships going. The earlier Superman films were pretty much Clark and Lois trying to make their relationship work with a bad guy coming up for a finale showdown. Therefore, this relationship has spent years developing.
But seeing as Man of Steel was an origin story, let’s look at this movie as a stand-alone thing. Pretend we have never heard of Lois Lane before. Their love story is awful, because it shouldn’t be a love story. She bumps into Kal-El in the Fortress of Solitude and begins investigating him, but other than that, there is no connection, linking the two characters to each other. For one, Snyder’s portrayal of Kal is a pretty bland one, which is fine, but it made the final kiss so bizarre and unexpected. There was no foreshadowing for it; beforehand, there was never any moment where we considered that the two characters could get together, outside of the previous canon. Surely, Lois was still getting over the fact that he was an alien, albeit a humanoid one.
If they wanted the relationship, they should have waited until the second movie. The first was so bloated with exposition that understandably, there was no time for a romance (although it would have helped if the actors were asked to stop playing their roles so seriously and added some charisma). I would have held back on that kiss and allowed Kal (who would be Clark Kent for the majority of the film and therefore be more able to engage in a love story of some sorts), to build up a connection with Lois in the sequel. Maybe begin a ‘will they, won’t they’ thing. As it stands, Snyder’s romance between two of the most iconic characters in comic book history fell hilariously flat. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are chuckling at them from afar.
2 – RETURN OF THE KING – FARAMIR AND EOWYN
I loved Eowyn as a character in the Lord of the Rings movies. When it came to female characters, the trilogy was severely lacking. Arwen is a moody, sullen elf and Galadriel is kept too mystic to really be a role model. Therefore when ‘Two Towers’ started up and we got this kick-ass daughter of the king, I was happy. In ‘Return of the King’, she was allowed to kill the mighty Witch King. The fight was a little lacking, but it was good that Peter Jackson gave her the space to be a good female action figure.
OK, I know that the romantic subplot could have been written in the book, but it wasn’t a major part of it (and Jackson cut out a lot). I was kind of irritated at the whole ‘crush on Aragorn’ thing, as it was basically the writers making the hero to be the bloke that had all of the women after him. But, of course, that storyline petered out and we could accept Eowyn as an independent figure. Oh, but the last we see of her, she meets Faramir’s eyes (a character she hasn’t spent any time with up till now), and they share a smile. Obviously, this is Jackson’s subtle way of saying that they end up together.
It really annoyed me, as it basically sums up everything I hate about pointless love stories. We had this character of a strong female figure built up, an independent woman in a cast oversaturated by men. And then it is ruined by the fact that it is decided that she cannot have a happy ending without a male love interest. It really dampens her strong character.
1 – HARRY POTTER – HARRY AND GINNY
Again, it’s hard to blame the movies for this, as it was JK Rowling that got these two characters together. But Harry Potter and Ginny is one of the most random, under-developed relationships in pop culture.
Right off the bat, JK said that she didn’t want Harry and Hermione getting together, as it seemed like too obvious a plot development. I completely get that and it made their characters that little bit stronger. But as the books reached their finale, Rowling realised that Harry needed a love interest. Therefore, when the sixth book or film begins, Harry develops a sudden crush on his best mate’s sister. It is abrupt and arguably distances the audience from the text. There is no foreshadowing in the earlier books, she is just another character. There is no moment to encourage this behaviour; it just kind of happens.
Sure, maybe Rowling was playing on this idea of suddenly getting a crush on someone you never considered as a potential partner before, but it could have been better developed. Ginny, at the time, didn’t really show any girlfriend material behaviour. She dated other characters, but there was never much of a connection. Suddenly, Ginny slowly became this character, just because Harry imagined her like that. He had a crush on her, so she developed a crush on him, which isn’t how real life works. Sure, Harry is a celebrity figure, so maybe there was a strong chance for her to fall for him, but that doesn’t seem really as romantic as Rowling made it out to be. Definitely not life partner material.
If it was me, I would have introduced a new character to give Harry a love interest. Someone outside of the school that just turned up and knocked Harry back at first sight. Sure, that might be a little bizarre and underdeveloped in itself, but I think it is a little better than conjuring Harry a dream girl from a already established character. Therefore, with this idea, when we look back at the earlier books and films, we are struggling to figure out how Harry and Ginny went from acquaintances to husband and wife.