Guest Post: Where's Marion...Or Disposable Love Interests
By Kiti Lappi
In a discussion on Facebook a few days ago we got to talking about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - the Indiana Jones movie which should not have been in the opinion of lots of fans, it seems - and one of the good points with that movie came up.
It brought Marion back. And even got her and Indy finally married. That there was a son was good too. Forget that he was played by THAT actor, just consider the idea that there is a next generation now. At least I like it, maybe because I don’t have any kids of my own and with my age there is now no chance of any, not natural ones anyway, and being one kind of dead end bothers me a bit.
And even somebody like Indy, a character who IS tied to time unlike somebody like, say, James Bond, so he is supposed to age - it’s not nice to imagine him as a the cranky lonely old man next door, moving around with a cane or a walker and nobody knowing how cool he once was. Better to imagine him as the doting grandfather, telling stories of his exploits to the grandkids who are gathered around him and are watching with wide eyes and waiting with bated breath for him to tell how he got out of the snake pit that time.
But the biggie is still: They brought Marion back.
Why? Why does matter so much to me?
Personally, one aspect is that I like romance. Hey, I am a woman, so sue me. However I can’t stand most romance novels because hell of a lot of them - most I have read - spend way too much time with the endless will they or won’t they, does he really love, or even like her, how deep are her feelings for him, or describing what kind of sex they have when they get to it and forgetting what is the other nominal plot at times totally, and especially when that other plot is supposed to be kind of important, like a murder mystery or espionage or, hell, saving her business, or his, or the family farm, the characters spending inordinate amounts of time concentrating on how hot that other person is, whether to have sex, or wondering if he really cares, makes the whole thing feel more than a bit flakey to me.
If there is a murderer on the loose and possibly coming after me you could drop the hottest male in the universe on my lap and I’d still spend at least somewhat more time trying to figure out who that killer is than admiring his total hotness and wondering what he maybe thinks of me (and trying to figure out whether to have sex…). Maybe I’m just quirky that way, or have low sex drive or whatever, but mostly those scenes make me want to grab the characters and shake them and point out that there are somewhat more important things happening around them.
And keep love triangles far away from me, thanks. One at a time is complicated enough.
So for me the go-to source for romance has always been all kinds of other stories with a romance subplot. Like the first Indiana Jones. Which was rather great as far as that part is concerned. You got that they knew each other, you got that there was history and previous problems, you got that they still had feelings - deep feelings - for each other, that they would not have ever gotten back together except for the circumstances which now forced them to. So would that be enough to bring them back together? He cared, she cared, but was their troubled history still too much for them?
Then, exciting derring do and lots of action later they did get back together. Ooh, they really DO love each other. Now they just have to stay together, right? Wedding, family, adventures together before kids, and maybe adventures where that family gets threatened and they work together to save each other and their family and… OOH, I CAN’T WAIT!
Then next movie. No Marion.
Okay, this was a prequel, and set for the period of time after their break up and before they met again. And Willie certainly was no match for her, so understandable that that affair never led to anything.
And then there is the third movie.
And… hey, where’s Marion? Why is Indy now flirting with that blonde? That story does pretty clearly take place later than the Ark one, so - what happened?
Of course the affair with Elsa doesn’t last, and ends very definitely, but he still has an affair with her. And as far as I remember there isn’t even a mention of Marion, no short discussion with Jones senior, for example, with him telling junior that he should have stayed with Marion, him answering that they just seemed to be incompatible or something and that she had left, or saying that they had a break up and he gave up too easily but is now going back and he WILL win her back because this showed him that she is the only one for him.
But there is nothing. It’s pretty much as if she hadn’t even existed.
And that definitely made the film less enjoyable for me, because I kept waiting for that explanation, even as a throwaway comment, of her absence.
Now on some level I get it. The meeting, the attraction, the getting to know each other a bit and then the hero getting her favor, conquering her, during the story is exciting. And I suppose after that doesn’t seem as exciting, they now know each other, he has won her, what else is there to tell? Plenty, actually, but I suppose it could be a bit harder to make all that seem exciting. The meeting and wooing is easier.
So often enough in film series the female lead in each movie changes. Our hero meets and wins a new lady each time.
But this revolving door of leading ladies makes a hero seem kind of shallow. Okay, often enough more like VERY shallow. Especially when each time the previous love of his life, or at least the last lust object, seems to be totally forgotten, not meriting even that throwaway line of how she, I don’t know, went back to her childhood sweetheart or had a too busy work schedule or how his job makes it too dangerous for him to commit to long term relationships and he is willing to risk only short affairs, or that maybe he was so badly scarred by losing the great love of his life that he no longer can go there.
(Okay, at least they have tried to give that impression a few times in the James Bond franchise… better than nothing, I guess).
The hero is a player, going through life having short, even if sometimes pretty intense affairs with countless women he seems to totally purge from his life and his memory afterwards.
And at least for me that makes him seem rather less heroic.
And then there always is that image of the hero as the lonely, cranky old man… not cool. Not at all.
I want the cool grandpa. And the young man who will fall in love, win his lady love and then KEEP her, through thick and thin, until death parts them. With at least one kid and then grandkids coming to the story at some point, whether that gets shown or not.