Before The Force Awakens aired, I’d say I spent my time on the outskirts of the Star Wars fandom. I always loved the franchise (with three exceptions), but it wasn’t until the seventh film that I had cause to engage. And what did I find? Ship wars. All the ship wars. Hell, I’ve even gotten into the weeds on FinnPoe vs. FinnRey, and I pride myself on being above it!
Like many ship wars, Star Wars shippers are determined to explain why theirs is going to be “endgame.” I am personally of the strong mind that these arguments are all equally immaterial, because Episode VIII could take us in literally any direction. However if you’re too caught up in your Ship Lens™ to believe me, consider this: imagine we live in an alternate universe where A New Hope only now came out. Imagine what those ship wars would have been like, in absence of The Empire Strikes Back.
I like to think it would have gone down something like this:
- LukexLeia (Luka)
- HanxLeia (HanLe pronounced “han-lay”)
- HanxLuke (Huke)
- VaderxLeia (Lader)
- Lesbian Leia (Flannel Princess)
Luka: So where to even begin?
HanLe: I know, right?
Luka: I mean…Luke/Leia just canon, isn’t it?
HanLe: Excuse me?
Luka: Like, they’re both clearly interested in each other…
Flannel Princess: Luke is interested in her.
HanLe: Yeah, I have to agree.
Luka: She kissed him.
HanLe: I would have kissed anyone in that situation.
Huke: No kidding! Plus, for all we know, she’s married. We just can’t say either way.
Luka: Wow, I can’t even believe I’m getting resistance tbh. Think about it: Luke is on the hero’s journey, right? He’s the unlikely protagonist from a small farm who got thrown into this epic quest where he rescues a literal princess who kisses him. This is straight out of Super Mario.
HanLe: Except that never went past nose-kisses.
Huke: It’s too obvious! Star Wars is definitely better than that.
Flannel Princess: Its evil base was named “the Death Star”…
Luka: Right? Sometimes the answer is there in front of you.
Flannel Princess: That Leia is a lesbian?
(HanLe and Luka exchange a bemused look)
Huke: I’m okay with that, but there’s not really any evidence…
Luka: Because all the evidence is for Luke/Leia. Seriously, guys, how is this even a conversation?
Huke: It’s a conversation because they don’t have chemistry together.
Luka: Yes they did! And Carrie Fischer and Mark Hamill have a ton in interviews.
HanLe: That’s interviews. In the actual movie, she clearly only has chemistry with Han. Their banter was crazy! “Will someone get this walking carpet out of my way.”
Luka: Wow, that’s supposed to be flirting? It seemed to me like she just didn’t like him.
Flannel Princess: Yup. And she was disgusted with him for only being in it for the money. She kind of hated him.
HanLe: Wait a second, did you miss the end of the movie where this was COMPLETELY PROVEN WRONG?
Huke: Yeah, that was just Han being cocky. Obviously he cared about them.
HanLe: Exactly. And she literally said “I knew there was more to you than money.” Also, look:
Huke: What about it?
HanLe: Look at this shot. It’s being used on a lot of promotional material, and it isn’t an accident where her hand is. They are pushing for HanxLeia.
Luka: Come on, who would that leave Luke with?
Flannel Princess: Friendly reminder that Luke is not owed a pretty girl by virtue of being nice!
Luka: Oh give me a break, I didn’t say that. It’s just clear that Luke is being billed as a romantic lead. Have you seen the way they talk about him in reviews?
HanLe: Have you seen Harrison Ford?
Huke: Okay, well let me interject then. Why choose? Because seriously, you wanna talk about chemistry? Luke also told Han that he knew he’d come back at the end! Not to mention the way they were grabbing at each other. Han was like, sooo happy he had impressed his BF, you could tell.
HanLe: They definitely like each other, but they’re both shown as being romantically interested in Leia. “A princess and a guy like me.”
Luka: Right, and Luke was interested in her right away. “She’s beautiful.”
Luka: That’s what I’m saying: she only demonstrated interest in Luke.
HanLe: She was full-on flirting with Han about his ship, and when she told him “it’s a wonder you’re still alive.”
Flannel Princess: Seriously, how is that flirting? She was making fun of him.
HanLe: That’s banter!
Luka: Han kept calling her “sister.” Because that’s how he sees her: like an annoying sister.
Huke: No, Han was flirting…that’s what he did with Luke when he called him “kid.” But Luke actually likes him back.
Random Multishipper: You guys know what the solution is to this…?
Random Multishipper: OT3!
HanLe: Heh, I’m okay with that.
Huke: Me too.
Huke: … Actually, the more I think about I’m not okay with it.
Luka: Thank god, yeah, just no.
Lader: Well I think Luke and Han definitely had way more chemistry. Besides, Lader is kind of obviously end-game, so this way, everyone gets someone.
Huke: Yeah! Wait…what’s “Lader”?
Flannel Princess: Oh my god, that’s not what I think it is, is it?
Lader: Leia and Vader. It’s kind of obvious, tbh.
HanLe: He fucking tortured her.
Lader: Um, we didn’t actually see the torture. Like, seriously, it looked like there was a truth-serum kind of thing on that ball, so if he had actually gone through with the torture, Leia would have told him the plans, so therefore he couldn’t have.
Flannel Princess: She resisted because she’s a badass.
Lader: She was basically a princess in a tower this entire movie. She would have resisted truth-serum?
Huke: Who said there was truth-serum?!
Luka: HE BLEW UP HER PLANET.
Lader: Um, that was Tarkin.
Luka: Vader was right there restraining her when it happened.
Lader: That demonstrates how protective he is.
HanLe: This is so gross…
Flannel Princess: Just a friendly reminder that if you ship Lader you are literal trash.
Lader: Um, don’t ship shame me.
Huke: Okay, but seriously, I want Han and Luke as the endgame, but I at least acknowledge that Leia could be canonically paired with Luke or Han next movie. There’s space for both of it. But how can you say Lader might happen when she canonically hates Vader.
Princess Flannel: Yeah, I know I said she “hates” Han, but I just mean she doesn’t prefer him.
HanLe: *amused cough*
Luka: She actually hates Vader. He’s evil.
Lader: He’s not evil! That comment Leia made about Tarkin holding the leash… We don’t really know how much, if any authority he has.
Huke: He almost killed Luke!
Lader: We don’t know he was going to kill Luke. He never fired; we can’t say what he would have done.
HanLe: YES WE CAN.
Flannel Princess: This is so stupid. Of course she hates him, but there’s not even indication that he likes her in the first place! This is based on nothing!
Lader: Um, are you forgetting when Tarkin ordered Leia to be terminated “immediately” and yet somehow she’s alive a bunch of scenes later. Like this is the guy who can get an entire planet blown up the second he wants that done, and yet Leia stays alive? It can only be because Vader didn’t follow through on those orders because he was protecting her.
Luka: BUT SHE ACTUALLY HATES HIM!
HanLe: Oh good god, what in the hell is that?
Huke: Seriously, how is this even a thing…
Lader: Okay, sit down, kids, and let me tell you about something called “symbolism.” Theirs is the first conflict we see on the screen. Leia spends the whole movie wearing all white; Vader wears all black. It’s yin and yang. You want to talk about banter, look at his “If this is a consular ship…where is the Ambassador?” He can call her on her bullshit. She appreciates that. They’re destined for each other’s arms. It’s a classic “will-they-won’t-they” dramatic set-up.
Huke: They won’t. They just won’t.
Luka: I’m fairly certain Luke is destined to defeat Vader. Like, he killed his mentor in front of him and everything…
Lader: Then explain to me why Vader and Leia canonically share the most screentime together than he does with anyone else? These are clear romantic beats and that’s the relationship being given the attention by the narrative.
HanLe: By that logic, C-3PO and Luke are meant for each other.
Flannel Princess: I’m not even sure that’s accurate. Leia and Vader only had like 3 scenes together.
Huke: Plus Vader seems pretty committed to the Empire. Like, if he was going to turn for her, he would have in this movie.
Lader: Okay, but do we even know that the Empire is that bad?
Luka: THEY BLEW UP A PLANET.
Lader: That was Tarkin.
Luka: THEY HAD BUILT THE DEATHSTAR FOR A REASON.
Lader: What she says: I’m fine.
What she means: I just think it’s really unfair that people keep pre-judging Vader like this. I mean we don’t know anything about him or his backstory, or even what his role is. We don’t know that he could have refused Tarkin’s orders, and from what we can tell, he never even hurt Leia, because she looked totally fine after her “interrogation,” and the execution was never scheduled. Clearly they have a history because Vader knew Leia would never “consciously betray the rebellion,” and I can’t believe how much people overlook that mutual respect. Also what happened with Ben? All we know is that he used to be his teacher, but we don’t know any of how that went down, and for all we know Ben was problematic af and that’s why he left. Also why should we believe Ben about what happened to Luke’s dad? He’s definitely just trying to get Luke on his side, and would probably say anything, and people should just really wait until Episode V before they say this stuff because it’s just so unfair to the character and I can’t believe how “open minded” people are totally writing him off.
HanLe: Oh my god, this is what the next three years is going to be like, isn’t it?
Huke: The fighting isn’t worth it guys.
Luka: Not at all. I think the three of us can agree that there’s at least a chance for our ships.
HanLe: I guess so.
Huke: I mean, Luke/Leia really is where the effort went, I have to admit.
Luka: Thank you!
HanLe: Ehh..I mean, we’ll see. Just as long as it’s not Lader.
Lader: This only proves how strong my ship is, by how intimidated you are.
Huke: So it’s agreed? Ship and let-ship, and blacklist “Lader”?
HanLe: Sounds good to me.
Flannel Princess: Okay, except Leia’s a lesbian.