Love in the Genres 3-Girls Who Love Bad Boys
In the last couple of weeks I’ve discussed couples from science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal stories who have loved and overcome conflicts from outside of their relationships. But what if the conflict came from within the relationship? What if one part of the couple had issues that could negatively affect the relationship, as well as the world in general?
Tony Stark was rich, intelligent, and an irresponsible playboy. He created the armor of Iron Man to save his life, but then he frequently showed poor judgement in its subsequent use. Pepper became a moderating influence on his life, but in return he pawned his responsibilities at Stark Industries onto her shoulders. He used “the suit” to show off at his birthday party in Iron Man 2, and as a result the technology was stolen. Pepper actually broke up with him because of his attitude and lack of maturity, though eventually he straightened up his act and they reconciled. Hopefully, he will overcome his tendencies and be more responsible in the future, but we won’t know until the next movie.
Angel was a vampire with a soul. He found a kindred spirit in Buffy, the girl whose mission was to kill vampires. They worked around their differences and teamed up against the forces of evil, but thanks to a gypsy curse Angel reverted to his evil, soulless form of Angelus when he fell in love with Buffy. He let the bloodlust of the vampire consume him, and Buffy had to fight him. She swore to kill him, but by a miracle was able to restore him to his former state. The risk remained, though, that he could turn again if they were together so Angel left his love behind to start a new life (and a spinoff) away from Sunnydale. Buffy, heartbroken, went on with her life, but she never forgot Angel, her first love.
The challenge of loving a man who was not allowed to have relationships or marry would have been hard enough, without the added problem of him being tempted by the dark side of the force. Anakin loved Padme with all his heart, but their love was not enough to keep him from being caught in the web of Emperor Palpatine. The emperor sought Anakin to be his apprentice, and lured him away from the teachings of Obi-wan and the Jedi Knights. Anakin let his temper get the better of him, and did terrible things, but Padme tried to help him. It was news of her death that finally finished turning Anakin Skywalker to darkness. It would take his own death and their grown son to redeem him many years later, but they would not see each other again.
When one part of a couple is irresponsible or vulnerable to darkness, sometimes the love cannot survive. That does not mean the love was not true; it only means those characters meant to be our heroes have a fatal, humanizing flaw. Such stories can be tragedies, or they can show the hero redeeming himself after making a mistake. Whatever the final outcome, these are passionate stories that move us, and inspire us, to search for some truth in ourselves. What would we do in such an impossible situation? Could we love the hero, and see him become the villain? Would we still love, or turn away in sorrow or terror? Perhaps we are lucky these are only stories, and the fate of the world does not change with our relationship statuses.
Until next time.