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Love, Lust, and Lara Croft

Welcome back to Survivor Reborn. With Lara’s Birthday a.k.a Valentine’s Day less than a month ago, the hot topic on many Raiders’ minds recently seems to be Lara’s love life. Join us as we explore this controversial topic. 

The concept of Lara in a relationship, or even simply enjoying spending time with another person, is something that every Tomb Raider fan has an opinion on, one way or another.

According to popular folklore, nothing quite says love like a flying naked baby armed with a bow and arrow. But let’s put Cupid aside for a moment, because for a subject that ought bring us warm and fuzzy feelings of happiness, when it comes to Lara Croft, the subject of love throws up a surprising amount of hatred.

In a modern society that often, thankfully, seems quite tolerant of people’s personal lives, everyone likes to lay claim to Lara and voice their opinion on how Lara spends her time. We here at Survivor Reborn have noticed this growing trend across the fandom, and wanted to engage with the community to try and get to the bottom of the matter. Exactly how do fans feel about Lara’s love life?

It’s easy to see why this is a controversial topic. From her earliest days, Lara was portrayed in adverts as sexually provocative – a trait that was barely referenced in the games, yet which some saw as an extension of her in-game persona. No doubt this worked as a marketing scheme, and drew in many players who later learned to love more about the series than just Lara’s physical appearance.    

With this in mind, the two blockbuster titles Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The Cradle of Life delved a little more into that side of her character. Past relationships, sexual encounters, and developing feelings were heavily implied between Lara and Alex West, and then between Lara and Terry Sheridan.

In both instances, the inclusion of a love interest was tied into the plot and played out at crucial moments. These included – spoilers ahead! – the death of Alex which spurred Lara into uniting the two halves of the Triangle of Light and defeating Mr. Powell, and Terry Sheridan trying to prevent Lara from destroying Pandora’s Box, leading her to regretfully kill him to save the world.

A key point to note here is that the inclusion of these men brought out aspects of Lara that, as gamers, we weren’t used to seeing; namely, sentimentality and vulnerability. From the bombastic character who drew people in with her cheeky marketing persona, then revealed her ass-kicking, pistol-whipping, sharp-quipping nature (try saying that five times quickly), the sentimental and vulnerable side to Lara wasn’t an easy pill to swallow. From a sociopathic character who would soon as shoot you as smile at you (poor Gary), this softer side to her wasn’t something fans were used to seeing at all.

Two movies and love interests in a row made viewers and some fans a little more open to the idea of Lara being with someone. However, it had also started to grate on some fans, and marked the beginning of what remains one of the many schisms in Lara’s fanbase.

Lara and Kurtis 01 

Skip ahead to The Angel of Darkness and the introduction of Kurtis Trent. Here was a man who knocked the wind out of Lara – not in any physical way, but his initial introduction scene left Lara stunned and a little starry-eyed. Peter Connelly’s beautiful sweeping score heightened the unexpectedly romantic side of of the moment, before swiftly throwing us back into life-or-death action.

This was a new and unexpected addition to her gaming persona. However, unlike her movie counterpart, game-Lara never let her guard down around this potential new love interest. It could be argued that Lara’s behaviour in The Angel of Darkness was a perfect compromise between the openness of her big-screen character, and her tougher and more guarded gaming self.

larasam.jpg

When the series was rebooted in 2013, some players insisted that there was a deeper romantic subtext to the friendship between Lara and Sam. was enough evidence to either believe (or hope) that Lara Croft wasn’t strictly heterosexual. LGBT role-models are important across every walk of life, and games are no different. As part of the 2013 writing team, Rhianna Pratchett discussed this subject during an interview back in 2013, and confirmed it wasn’t her intention:

I’ve seen a number of threads about Lara’s relationship with Sam that suspect there’s something more going on under the surface. … I’ve seen an entire essay about how I have a “gay agenda.” That was an interesting take on it, and not necessarily something that I’d considered. There’s part of me that would’ve loved to make Lara gay. I’m not sure Crystal would be ready for it!’

So let’s leap back to present day and fans’ input on Lara’s love life.

From a twitter poll with a couple of hundred results asking if Lara should or should not have a love interest, the fan consensus was an overwhelming ‘no’. Granted a couple of hundred responders isn’t a significant portion of Lara’s fanbase, but there’s something to be said for it representing a microcosm. Comments were gathered, both on Twitter and on Survivor Reborn’s Facebook page, in order to understand the fans’ opinions. Many people responded, but the most numerous comments were from fans who were against the idea.

Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 12.55.23

These fans preferred the idea of Lara as a blank canvas – a strong and independent lone wolf with no romantic ties or person to get in her way. Someone who reserved love for the treasures she hoarded, and kept herself to herself, unconcerned with personal relationships or physical encounters.

These comments have had their usernames removed from these small selections in order to preserve anonymity in this article. To view the full list of comments, take a look at the links above. 
I like single Lara. She doesn’t need a man. She can take care of herself – love that about her.
I say no. I’ve always viewed her as someone who wasn’t interested in romantic relationships.
Female characters are plagued as having to have a love interest – Lara was refreshing in the fact that she was a loner and didn’t seem bothered about it all.

Other fans fell on the ‘Yes’ side of the fence. They wanted a more open, human characterisation of Lara and don’t particularly mind if it’s part of the plot.

She’s a biological human being so she’s allowed to have sexual/romantic interests, but they shouldn’t be important to the story.  
In my opinion i’d say yes! The day i became i TR fan i was wondering if Lara is going to have a love interest. But i think she needs someone who’s going to accompany her in her adventures!
Only Sam / Only Kurtis.

Many people were somewhere in the middle, putting conditions on Lara’s romantic interactions with others. Some even see it as a way for Lara to have a child of her own in order to continue her legacy:

Maybe… Because in her story she has to age sometime and in order for her story to continue she’ll need a child or it could possibly be that she’s too independent for marriage and has decided on adoption?
I don’t see a problem with it, but I have to agree that it’s the tension and chemistry between her and another character that I prefer, vs just coming out and saying she has a romantic relationship w/said character. Lara holds her own and I don’t think she needs a man/woman to drive her motives/development etc. That’s not to say that her relationships with other characters, even platonic ones, isn’t important. It’s just secondary, IMO.
I don’t know Lara is a loner if she did it would be Sam but it was before her adventure it would complicate her work and what she wants to explore the world and find out all the secrets of the world is hiding relationship should not be a goal for her.

In an attempt to delve more into the fan concept of ‘shipping’ Lara and Sam, we asked what people thought of the idea and whether they would be open to it. Unfortunately, most people who had been noticeably vocal in support of the idea did not comment, but we still gathered some responses.

Against the idea, because Sam’s only talents are filmmaking, being sweet & needing rescue. Not exactly compatible with a raider’s lifestyle.
Whether Sam is Lara’s girlfriend or not, she should still be around (even if in background) cos their interactions give Lara credible personality.
Indifferent to Reboot Lara and Sam as I find them incredibly boring.

These results seem to indicate that people are indifferent to the idea of Lara being in a relationship with another female. The people who were in favour of Lara and Sam liked the interaction between the two, and the caring side it brought out in Lara’s character. Those who were against this particular relationship had to fight against the (unfortunately loud) opinion that people who don’t want to see Lara and Sam together ‘are homophobic’. Many raised the point that they found Sam either uninteresting, incompatible to Lara’s lifestyle, or simply far too adept at being kidnapped.

sam

Where do I stand on the matter? I would have to stand firmly with the ‘No’ camp. There hasn’t been a single instance where I’ve been interested to see Lara romantically tied to anyone. With the current incarnation of Lara relying so much on her personal family connections, I frequently lament the developers’ decision to chip away at her independent nature.

I would see the addition of a partner as the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It would fundamentally change her character in an irreparable way, and almost certainly take away all claim to the name Lara Croft, and what her character stood for.

As for the idea of her being in a relationship with Sam, I wholeheartedly reject it. As a gay man, I would answer any claim that my ‘opinion on the matter is homophobic’ with a raised eyebrow. My feelings are directly related to my opinion above – Lara is a character who doesn’t need anyone. Romance doesn’t interest her, and any flirtatious aspect in her nature has been purely selfish, and for personal gain, whether it was to steal a treasure from underneath someone’s nose, or simply get us to buy her latest game.

Where do you stand on the issue of Lara and her love interests? Do any of the above opinions resonate with you? Let us know in the comments, or join us in discussion over on the Survivor Reborn forums.


Love, Lust, and Lara Croft by Chris Jones / Survivor Reborn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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About Chris Jones (4 Articles)
I'm a London-based Welshman, video editor, designer, and passionate gamer.

3 Comments on Love, Lust, and Lara Croft

  1. rapierman // March 13, 2017 at 03:08 // Reply

    Admittedly, my point of view comes probably from a line of reasoning based on when I first played the game, when it all began (1996, I believe). Were I to assume that she were, at a minimum, in her early 20s, she would be at a point where her physical skills would have deteriorated a small amount today, putting her in her early 40s. At that point, she would have thought about the truth that nobody lasts forever, that age would catch up to her already. At that point, she could only continue on as a professor of archaeology / anthropology (enough life experiences to get that Ph.D) and either continue being single while inspiring others to continue her work, or she would have married and at least have had one kid, and that kid could take up the mantle for her

    However, one should also realize that marriage doesn’t necessarily mean a complete halt to those adventures. They could continue on, though not quite as frequent as before. However, eventually, the adventures would have to stop and someone else will have to take up the gauntlet. Whether or not she’s married has no bearing on this fact. The only thing that she either figures out or it gets thrust upon her is how she lives out the rest of her life after the adventures.

  2. Everything aside, I firmly stand on the ”No” answer.

    Also…Ugh, where did you get that horrific Lara/Sam picture? Why is Sam touching her no-no area?! Really, as the owner who this website, I figured it be your moral duty not to include haneous like that, Chris Jones.

    • Hi Amanda!
      Thanks for this reply too – I’m glad you felt strongly enough to take a stand on this matter. That Sam and Lara image is one of many that are floating around on Tumblr and Deviantart, and comes from a collection of video game character ‘shipping’. (This is when a fan-base imagines two characters who aren’t necessarily together, being together.)
      As outlined in this article, this ‘ship’ is referring to Sam and Lara.
      But let’s move on to the juicy little details:
      1. Regarding the placement of Sam’s hand, I imagine the image designer wanted to imply an intimacy between the characters.
      2. I don’t own the website, I merely occasionally write and create video content for it.
      3. Morality doesn’t come into any aspect of this. An intimate image of two consenting adults is not haneous (and it’s certainly not heinous either). You may not care to see this ‘ship’ together (personally I couldn’t stand Sam), but morality is not a factor here. It’s even less so when the game itself has an Adult / 18+ rating in the first place. With this in mind, please feel free not to censor words such as ‘vagina’ with infantile terms like ‘no-no area’. We’re all grown ups here.
      Have a great weekend!

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