Romancing the Wolf: The Use of Romantic Interests in Tomb Raider

12:30 pm HelenLJohnson 2 Comments

Happy Valentine’s Day, or Happy Birthday Lara depending on which one you would rather celebrate! I think it is particularly fitting that the original backstory placed Lara’s birthday on a day that is known for relationships and a consumeristic ideal of romance. For many, Lara appears as a lone wolf, particularly in the original series. She would have no time for a relationship other than one for business.

Yet for the past twenty years, there have been characters who have tried to instigate something with Lara, or there has been a spark of something that fuelled the pens of many a fan fiction writer or deviant artist. The depictions of Lara do change depending on which medium is under scrutiny. Within the first volume of the comic series in the early 00s, Lara could be extremely flirty to get what she wanted while the games kept that side mostly under wraps until later editions. Even then, it was more so to taunt rather than to use her femininity to progress her underlying objective.

However as her original backstory suggests, she was engaged to the Earl of Abingdon prior to the plane crash in the Himalayas. What can be sourced from this tiny piece of game manual information. This was not a situation that Lara wished to be in, she used the plane crash as a way to escape what was planned out for her life and set about travelling the world as a lone wolf. It is no surprise that perhaps she wanted to distance herself from anything that may tie her down or create complications between her goals and morals.

This is where the films create an interesting side to Lara. Although not widely held in a positive light and are certainly not canon to any timeline; they show a side of Lara not commonly seen in either the comics or the game. In the films Lara has a history with both Terry and Alex, as the stories develop they both have a certain degree of respect for Lara despite what their ulterior motive may be. While the romance side is explored in greater depth with Terry in The Cradle of Life, it is relationship between Alex and Lara in the first film which appears more genuine and interesting. Two looters living just underneath legitimate society with logical reasons why their paths may cross and why they may both be able to use each other.

What we must remember with romantic interests within the Tomb Raider franchise, is that they may not always mean romance in a typical setting. Due to the lifestyle narrated by the series, relationships are more than likely going to be dynamic and chaotic. As suggested by Angel of Darkness, while it is not specifically suggested that Lara and Kurtis are anything more than an accidental pairing, the way both of the characters are written distances itself from other games in the series. At the start, it was certainly bordering on voyeuristic with the slightly disturbing scene in the Louvre. Yet, it became dynamic between the two characters; when one became dominant the other fought to overcome the ties until they both appeared to fighting for the same cause. It is a shame that the planned two games after Angel of Darkness was scrapped, as these may have shed a more definitive light on how Lara approached suggested romantic advances and how she copes with potential loss. It is fantastic how fan fiction writers have taken these two characters and explored their relationship in multiple different readings. It suggests that the source material had made a step forward in character development that, in my opinion, was unfortunately lost until the reboot in 2013. Read here for a more detailed explanation on Angel of Darkness and Tomb Raider 2013.

Within the reboot there are two interesting situations of how Lara approaches romantic circumstances. The first being Alex, not to be confused with movie Alex, Alex Weiss declares his attraction to Lara via notes that the player can find. When he knows his life is to meet an untimely end, player choice is not allowed and Lara kisses Alex on the cheek. Compared to a similar scene in Life is Strange where the player has three options to decide what level of intimacy is granted to the character in peril. While it is incorrect for me to say a dying character is deserves anything from the pivotal character, the removal of player choice from this scene suggests the motives of Lara overall. Intimacy and romantic options are always second place to survival in the reboot and adventure in the original. Even if the player lays their own readings on to the franchise, we don’t have the choice to explore these options via the games because it appears to take away from the perceived core of the franchise.

This is a little sad, to me anyway. Away from the games, intimacy has been explored in a few ways, yet the same quote appears almost every time a discussion of Tomb Raider and relationships appear. That Tomb Raider was never meant to be that and Lara is perfectly fine by herself. I do agree with that, to a degree. As I have previously suggested before, a relationship as a traditional entity probably wouldn’t fit within the franchise. However a chaotic, more suggestive rather than explicit relationship would possibly work.

Taking Sam as an example, the audience was never told that they were in a relationship or had an attraction. Yet some players read into the narrative that this was the underlying motivation for Lara to survive. I have yet to play Rise as I am waiting for the PS4 version, however from what I have heard Sam does not appear in the game. In the novel and comic series leading up to the game; Sam retains her position in intimacy purgatory because what would happen if Lara developed greater feelings for someone else? Would this mean the end of Lara as we know it? I believe this is why Lara and romance is often brushed over or ignored. As consumers (and at times developers) of the franchise, we are scared of un-Laraing Lara Croft. With twenty years, Lara has developed many layers of personality; the beauty is that as we play through the games we create our own Lara. In the end, if that means Lara is the quintessential lone wolf, then that is a perfectly reasonable option. Let’s just explore the relationship options a little more before we decide on that trait.

I know I have only touched upon the top of this subject and there is certainly more to it to warrant a deeper analysis. If you want to discuss anything hit me up on twitter or in the comments below. Or if you have wrote something similar, share as I love reading other people’s analysis of the Tomb Raider franchise :)


  1. Hi there. Can you give me your email or Twitter name. I would love to discuss Lara's romantics interests with you. I have theories and would love to share ��

    1. Of course :) it is @Lady_Scion feel free to DM me :) (just send me a tweet to let me know it is you so I can add you!)