Literary Boyfriends Round 1: Battle of the Reluctant Kings

ReluctantKingsAragorn (1) v. Howard Roark (8)

When I showed my adult daughter my Literary Boyfriend Bracket, it was interesting to me where we disagreed on who would make the better boyfriend (or lesser of two evils, at the very least). However, there was no shaking my resolve as to who should win the battle rounds. Except in one regard: She did sway my decision in this first round between Aragorn (the future king of Gondor in The Lord of the Rings) and Howard Roark (the king of architecture in The Fountainhead).

Oh, I guess now would be a good time to note: SPOILER ALERT. Although if you haven’t seen and/or read LOTR, I guess you probably never will.

Which brings up an interesting point regarding film adaptations. When you read a book before it’s adapted for the silver screen (or before seeing said movie) , you will have one impression of how that character looks. I think an excellent example is The Hunger Games. Neither Jennifer Lawrence nor Josh Hutcherson remotely resembles the characters of Katniss and Peeta as described in Suzanne Collins’ text. While their portrayals are brilliant, neither actor was well cast, in my honest opinion.

However, when it came to the film version of LOTR, the decision to cast Viggo Mortensen as the sword-wielding reluctant king and dutifully displaced lover was pretty damn spot on. I actually read LOTR in its entirety after Peter Jackson’s films, meaning in my mind Viggo Mortensen is Aragorn.

As for the 1949 version of The Fountainhead (curiously, it’s never been remade), Gary Cooper was terribly miscast as Howard Roark, who is without question my favorite character in literary history. Why the studios chose an aging Cooper (he was almost 50) to play the youthful Roark (much of the novel takes place while the hero is in college, studying architecture) instead of an up-and-coming Gregory Peck (who would have been 32 or thereabouts when The Fountainhead was filmed) is probably a point of discussion for a college film studies seminar about the studio system of that era .

Movies aside, however, I truly was leaning toward Howard Roark winning this battle. It was my daughter who made me come to realize that there’s really no question that any gal (or guy, for that matter) would choose the man who saves Middle Earth over the guy who won a court case in what was effectively a trial of domestic terrorism. Justified or not, only one King can be crowned winner of this battle.

The King of Gondor. Aragorn defeats Howard Roark in a split decision.

3 thoughts on “Literary Boyfriends Round 1: Battle of the Reluctant Kings

  1. Oh, but surely Superman should win, since he can fly and shoot heat rays out of his eyes! 🙂

    Does it count for nothing in Howard Roark’s favor that he’s potentially real, and Aragorn is a fantasy character in a fantasy world? Do women these days judge their potential boyfriends by their orc-killing prowess? If they do, then I’m in trouble. 😉

    Also, Roark’s action was not terrorism because his goal was to destroy a particular building based on a broken agreement, rather than to threaten people and scare them into accepting his ideas.

    • I do state that Howard Roark is by far my favorite character in all of literature. I don’t think it matters how fantastical a male character’s world is or whether or not that character is loosely based on a person who actually has existed. I had a long conversation with my daughter, trying to defend my rationale for Roark being a better boyfriend, but in the end, I think it came down to the films intermingling with the literature. That and the altruism of Aragorn v. the narcissism of Roark (who, if you remember, rapes Dominique). I love Howard Roark, but as boyfriend material? Maybe not so much.

  2. Pingback: Warning: this blog post will shatter your perception of 6 characters!~by MagicalWolf | The Write Stuff

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