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Anakin/Padme

(Yes, I'm doing these out of order. I'm going to have to work myself up to Tim and Greta—I've still got lots of complex, conflicting emotions there.)

Paging [personal profile] sharpest_asp . Part 2, as promised.

An iconic pairing. The unbeatable crusading knight and his equally unstoppable lady diplomat, who is herself a Badass Normal action hero when the situation requires it. They're not hero and damsel. They're each other's champion against the whole rest of the universe, and may all creation tremble at their passing.

Or at least, that was what they were supposed to be. That was the couple of myth and legend whose love reshaped the galaxy, spoken of in awe and reverence and fear and hatred in the original trilogy. That was what we were promised.

What we actually got was incredibly formulaic, and while it had its moments, too many of the crucial events in their relationship were at best stilted and awkward or at worst completely lacking any emotional resonance. Their wedding, for instance, did nothing for me, largely because it wasn't presented in any detail. It was a several-second throwaway scene with no dialogue and a great booming musical score that had nothing to do with marriage and was pretty much GENERIC STAR WARS SERIOUS BUSINESS MUSIC. Not that there's anything wrong with that music—I love it, actually—but this is the wedding and the love story that effectively changed the millennia-long course of the galaxy forever. It deserved more than a part in a montage. It deserved much more than being simply another item to check off on the "And Then That Thing That Got Us to the Original Trilogy Happened" checklist.

For me this was a larger issue with the prequels as a whole. It felt like 80 percent of the prequel storyline existed merely to provide in-jokes and references that explained gaps in the original trilogy. And you're probably thinking, "well isn't that the point of a prequel?" And yes, a prequel needs to do that, but it also needs to be as compelling and complicated a story as the original material it's based on. And for crying out loud, it has to be more than fanservice. It has to have soul, and you've got to work extra hard to make the viewer care, because we already know the ending. In my {obviously not so humble} opinion, the prequels failed hard at this, and few other places is it more apparent than in the shallowness and emotional numbness of the Anakin/Padme relationship.

This is the love so powerful that the fear of losing it left Anakin, The Hero with No Fear, the somewhat mentally-unstable Chosen One, so destabilized that Darth Sidious was able to seduce him to the Dark Side and cause the ruination of the Jedi, and then the Galaxy. It should have been a great raging fireball, so bright it burned the eyes to look at, from The Phantom Menace on.

That's the love story I was expecting to see, and I'm still waiting.

Instead, we got a lingering glowstick of under-developed inevitability that bored large portions of the audience, and at worst actively turned them off.

Worse, all the terrible things that happened to bring Anakin to the Dark Side and kill Padme—whose death was completely stupid and contrived in the context of a non-fantasy canon with obscenely well developed medical technology—involved Anakin, Padme, and the entire Jedi Order playing Calvinball with every Idiot Ball they could find. Let me cite a couple of the biggest examples.

Anakin was old when he joined the Jedi Order. Not only was it unrealistic to expect him to purge all emotions like an Initiate conditioned from babyhood, especially if all they did to help him along was give him some lectures on suppressing his emotions—which humans aren't naturally wired to do without extensive mental conditioning—and avoiding the sort of emotional attachments that science tells us are actually necessary for a normal human mind to function correctly. Short of actual brainwashing, he was never going to have the emotional control or the ability to go without emotional attachments that a normal human psyche needs to function. Classically trained Jedi possess these things only because of intensive training from infancy that rewires their brains and makes them both more and less than human.

But Anakin was forced into that mold anyway. No wonder he was unstable. To their credit, by A New Hope, Yoda and Obi-Wan seemed to realize their mistake and didn't repeat their error when training Luke, though they sure griped out about how much better the old days were. They also made new and different mistakes, but that's another story. And their behavior with Luke doesn't really excuse the fact that the entire Jedi Council took a brain holiday and not one of them ever put forth the idea that holding a normal human boy to standards used to shape and measure children mentally conditioned to have abnormal thought processes since infancy was maybe a bad idea.

Worst still, the prequels ignore the setting's own rules. We know that there were Jedi allowed to marry because of insurmountable cultural and biological needs. One of them sat on the Jedi Council. The Corelian Jedi were absolutely allowed to maintain personal attachments with their families. This was done because it was a accepted that trying to train one of these Jedi using the standard model would be an absolute disaster. Yet never once was Anakin given any accommodation befitting his unique circumstances. No wonder he thought they were all being hipocritical.

No wonder he leapt at what Sidious offered him.

So, the point of all that: I am deeply in love with the concept and potential of Anakin/Padme. I absolutely loathe the canon version, for the reasons I've outlined above and others I won't bore you with. These are the big issues that ruin it for me.

So, for Anakin/Padme fic, give me AUs. Alternate universes where the story is written in such a way that their love story actually feels like a relationship with the potential to shatter the galaxy. Make them burn for each other, and make me believe in the magnitude of their devotion.

But that also means making Anakin and Padme and the Jedi Council and Order and their supporting cast the kind of people, in the kind of setting, that can pull off a love story with firepower of this magnitude. So give me an AU that strips out the flood of idiot balls and plot holes canon introduces. Let them be the legends we heard of in awed whispers in the Original Trilogy. Let them not make decisions that go against all logic and common sense just to advance the ball towards the inevitable.

And when you strip out those plot holes and idiot balls, the events of the original trilogy become no longer inevitable. So go wild. If you want to make Anakin fall to the Dark Side still, that's great, but make it a tragedy worthy of a hero of his legend, not the McDonald's Drive-Thru version where he goes from flawed but ultimately heroic to genocidal mass murdering child-killer in about five minutes because he had some bad dreams and Yoda gave absolutely crappy advice and Sidious is really good at being Faux Affiably Evil.

Hell, if you really want to get dark, have Anakin seduce Padme to the Dark Side and overthrow Sidious before he becomes Palpatine and let them co-rule the Galaxy as some sort of sexy, lawful evil Grey Jedi/Sith power couple. Just make it internally consistent enough to be believable, and I'm there. I might need chocolate afterwards, but I'm totally there.

But my personal preference is to write and read AUs where the universe doesn't stack the deck against Anakin, and lets him actually be the hero we was meant to be. Let him not fall, because unlike in canon he has friends and family that love him and he can trust enough to reach out to for help. People that can catch him when he stumbles under the impossible weight they've put on his shoulders, who will smile and let him know they've got his back instead of scorning him for not being the perfect classical Jedi he was never meant to be.

Let Padme be strong and capable enough to stand on her own against almost anyone who would challenge her. Show us the woman who Princess Leia Organa inherited her heroism and political saavy and idealism and iron will (and attraction to lovable rogues) from. I have a lot fewer issues with her characterization in canon beyond the crappy love-plot writing itself, so I don't see a need to change her character that much so long as we're actually made to believe in the love story. But please, show us Anakin's equal. Let them be co-heroes and partners.

Let them stand shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, his lightsaber lit and her blaster charged even as she kicks just as much aft with diplomacy as anything, united and strengthened by their love for each other, ready and willing to stand against all comers to secure the peaceful future they both want and deserve.

And because this is supposed to be an epic love story, let the galaxy tremble.
lordyellowtail: (Let's Talk Crack Pairings (Snape/Roker O)
Quoting [personal profile] sharpest_asp  from her MemeTime entry:
You know that meme that goes around sometimes where you post your five favorite kinks and then five favorite couples, and it's like a wish into the universe to see if anybody will write it for you? Let's make it a little more interactive.

Comment here if you want to play, and I will give you 3-6 couples that I associate with you, and you make an entry in your journal talking about those couples and fics that you wish the universe would write for you.
So, this seems like it should be pretty fun. Comment if you would like to play.

In the meantime, Asp gave me the following:

1. Rogue/Remy
2. Robin/Secret
3. Anakin/Padme

So, let's go do that. These are turning out a bit long, so I'm gonna divide them up into 3 separate posts.

Rogue/Remy
I'm probably going to disappoint Asp a bit here, but I honestly don't have a lot to say about any present incarnation of this ship. It only works for me in certain versions of the X-Men canon. In others, one or both characters are different enough that the chemistry that draws me to them—particularly the juxtaposition of his extreme intellect, bravery, and deep emotional connection with those in the X-Men he considers his friends and family, all covered up by a veneer of devil-may-care bravado and a show of emotional distance that would fool those who don't know him well; and her outward Type A southern belle, action girl, courageous and kind and gentle outer-shell around a battered, wounded, and deeply, crushingly lonely soul. In universes where they're written this way, they put on acts for the world around them, and some of the only people they can't fool are each other (and Logan, but going into that would disrupt the flow of my over-thought ramblings here). They understand and accept the other for everything they are, and love them for it, warts and all. It's only refusal to fully accept their own selves that stalls their relationship. You can't be in love with someone else when you really don't love yourself—not if you want a healthy relationship, at any rate.

All the fun of their banter and the adorableness of their actual relationship aside, they're a pairing that, to properly work, demands that each participant become a stronger person and consciously fight their personality flaws to be together. It's an explicit element of their relationship, when it's usually just implied in other similar relationships. That's somewhat unique, and so it appeals to me a great deal. X-Men: The Animated Series showed me this version of them and got me hooked. The problem is, not every version of them has this dynamic. X-Men: Evolution Rogue and Remy don't feel like what I described above at all. This version of Remy is a much less sympathetic, layered character and comes off more as a grudginingly enjoyable antihero than a loveable rogue to the people around him, with a tenancy to manipulate Rogue's feelings to his advantage when it's fairly obvious nothing will happen between them, if for no other reason than he doesn't sincerely want her. X-Men:TAS Remy was completely devoted to his Rogue, in his own special way. In Evolution, Rogue still has plenty of problems with interpersonal relationships and isolation, but considerable time and energy is given to developing her confidante/heterosexual life partner relationship with her brother, Kurt Wagner. Their relationship is deep and nuanced and complicated and they rely on each other in a way they don't rely on anyone else, in a completely platonic love sort of way.

Having such a well-developed loving sibling relationship in this context is rather refreshing, but it means that there's no hole in Rogue's heart and relationship with those around her that Gambit would usually be the on to fill.

So, the fic I would write and read with them would be anything in the vein of the characterization and sort of relationship they had in X-Men: The Animated Series. At this stage in my life, well into adulthood and still single, long drawn-out will-they-won't-they and Idiot Ball driven relationship obstacles and love triangles for The Dramas don't appeal to me, so I'd not write or want to read any of that. So much Rogue/Gambit material is devoted to getting them together that I want to see them actually be together.

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Lord Yellowtail

July 2016

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