I went into Rogue One expecting a romance.
Really, who didn’t? There was a girl and a guy for main characters, so obviously sparks would fly.
Well, things didn’t exactly go as planned. (Spoilers ahead)
Jyn and Cassian’s relationship was one of the most compelling things in the very compelling Rogue One. Unlike the wide-eyed Luke Skywalker or innocent Finn, both Jyn and Cassian knew about the dark underside of the galaxy and had their own hand in that darkness. For years, Jyn willfully ignored the sufferings around her and Cassian killed who he needed to, regardless of their loyalties. They did what they did for a reason, but neither were happy with it.
In each other, though, they found a reminder of why they fought. This formed a bond that, while it may not have been the expected one, carried them through to the end.
One of my favorite parts of Rogue One was the ending beach scene. I loved the need Cassian and Jyn showed for each other, the need to experience that last step in life with someone else. No declaration of love, no wishes for a future together, just a present need.
Many people still think Jyn and Cassian were romantically attracted to each other. I choose to interpret it as a might-have-been, if they’d been given more time. Either way, they were connected by more than romance, and the fact that the movie explored that connection instead was an important choice.
It seems that media has an obsession with romance. Name one popular story without a romance in it. Can you do it? Probably not. Now name one popular story without a prominent sibling pair in it. Way easier, right? I know there’s other factors that go into this particular question (like the fact many popular stories focus on people who have already left home), but in general, there’s a romantic relationship in every story while other relationship types are rotated through.
Relationships in many forms are important; romance isn’t all there is. Jyn and Cassian didn’t need to kiss to support each other while they died, they only needed to be there for each other.
My main characters’ relationship reminds me a lot of Jyn and Cassian’s. They need each other, need someone by their side through this part of their lives. It’s not romantic, not at this time. Maybe it could be, but that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that these two characters affect each other. They mean something to each other. Relationships like that bring your story to life.
Romance is just one small piece in the giant puzzle of life. Writers should want to show life- all aspects of life- through their works. Why focus on the same part, over and over? Delve into other ties- family ties between a mother and daughter, a father and daughter, a sister and brother. Friendship ties between new friends, old friends, friends drifting apart. Explore expected relationships, unexpected relationships, relationships where neither thought they wanted one. Explore the wide variety of interactions that surround us. Don’t settle for the same note pounded over and over.
Good luck. And may the Force be with you.