You should know as I answer this question that I do not like romance. All romance is my least favorite romance. I don’t think I need to tell you that I don’t like the romance between Padmé and Anakin, because I already established that Padmé is my least favorite female character. And knowing how invested people are in this, when I answer today’s question the way I’m about to, you may feel tempted to ask if I have a soul. Well, as far as I know, I do, but it does not care about romance.
Long story dramatically short: Leia does not deserve Han. Their romance is blighted the entire time by the fact that she is a shrill, shrewish, shrieking royal with a silver spoon and an attitude problem. (The post about Padmé was making me feel really warm about her daughter, but I take it all back.)
So Leia is a 22-year-old senator when she meets Han. Like her unknown mother, she has to face the dichotomy of being a royal figure in a democratic universe — a vestigial person striving to prove herself still relevant, a fighter for freedom and the re-institution of a republic who is still universally referred to as “Princess,” even after the planet she was princess of is destroyed and furthermore even after it is revealed she was only ever adopted into that family to begin with. Her strength is mainly absolute bullheadedness, and frankly, she is not good with making decisions.
It’s obvious why she would go after Han (and I do like the adoring look in her eyes in the above picture) — his roguish good looks, mysterious and presumably checkered past, and gruff ways are like lady catnip. However, her pride, upbringing, recent traumas, and natural perverse streak cause her to resist this attraction with every fiber of her being and she insults, snaps at, and derides him the entire time. Luke, despite being her rescuer, is too agreeable. She’s used to people falling at her feet with obedience and agreement to her every thought. She is not used to being challenged. In a nutshell, this is why she falls in love with Han.
But Han has absolutely no reason to fall in love with her. Days before meeting her shrieking ungrateful worshipfulness, he received the heartbreaking news that his first love, Bria, the first woman to ever gracelessly abandon him, was killed by the Empire. Again, Leia derides, disagrees with, and demeans him at every available opportunity; now, this doesn’t have an effect on Han because he’s heard it all. But there’s no reason for it to attract him, either. And while Leia has an uncanny ability to have utterly pristine makeup whether she’s being tortured by Imperial agents or grubbing about on a backwater planet, she’s not a great beauty. She’s neither a bimbo nor a genius; she is also neither his match, nor a challenge, nor his opposite. Leia has an all-consuming passion for politics, government, espionage, and warfare. In other words, Leia’s chief appeal seems to be availability.
So apart from the fact that I can’t see why Han falls for her — and Han is the girl at the beginning of ESB, hurt because Leia (acting the part of the man) refuses to acknowledge his feelings for her or express any in return. He’s hurt, angry, and tries to provoke a confession of attraction, and he leaves in a fury when Leia hotly denies any interest in him whatsoever. But apart from not being able to see why Han falls for her, I have to say that frankly Leia doesn’t deserve him. This is not hugely apparent in the films, though traces of Leia’s selfishness, fitful changeability, and bad temper are seen throughout. It becomes undeniable in the EU.
Leia spends four years refusing to marry him and comes shockingly close to marrying a stranger for political benefits. Han actually kidnaps her in order to press her into marriage. Over and over again, Han is the girl in this relationship. Leia wears the trousers. He begs for marriage and she demurs. She betrays him by accepting a stranger’s marriage proposal, doesn’t even tell Han about it, and then is bemused that he isn’t willing to accept the situation. In every case, the Republic comes before him, before her family, before anything. She tells Han to sit and he sits; she teases him, puts him off, puts him on, runs hot and cold, and in all other ways is a maddening example of a girlfriend from hell. Luke and Han may be as close as brothers, but Leia is an absolute bitch.
Although I have no idea why Han would love her, it’s impossible to miss how genuine his affection is. He loves her and is so relieved to have her, despite how badly she treats him. I know they’re considered the poster children of scifi romance, but it’s just not there.