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What Main Character has Ruined A Movie or Game for You?

‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ has a lot going for it. Its lead character is not one of those things.
All images courtesy STX

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has a lot of great features. There are so many things I genuinely loved about it: its colorful, wacky world, full of aliens and wild cityscapes and bananas production design. There's an alien race that lives on a perfect beach with cute animals that shit jewels! Rihanna is in it as a burlesque performer!

It's the kind of beautiful space garbage—a pulpy, fun, colorful and borderline nonsensical romp through impossible worlds—that I fell so hard for in Jupiter Ascending and yes, Valerian's own predecessor, The Fifth Element.


But, lord help me, the movie is almost completely ruined by its awful main character, Major Valerian.

The film clearly wants him to be a lovable asshole in the vein of Han Solo—the lovable rogue with a heart of gold. But Major Valerian—a sort of space-cop with, apparently, a huge reputation among women—is not lovable, nor is there any evidence of a heart of gold. He is just, simply, an asshole.

He makes moves on his coworker, Laureline (they have no chemistry. No matter how many times he literally asks her to marry him), who is a full Hermoine type and has some potential to be a fun character, but the movie unwisely focuses on him. Seconds after he is introduced, he tries to bang her on his ship's version of a holodeck, and then, she brings up his "playlist" of conquests, portraits of women he's slept with. Dude, I don't think so.

Throughout the movie, he just acts like a callous ass, promising the world to people and never delivering. When he meets a down-and-out alien who needs government papers, he promises to help her, but there's no evidence that he gives a shit about literally anything in the world, save for his mission and fucking his coworker. He's like a 17-year-old who grew up watching whatever this galaxy's version of James Bond, thinking that is the perfect man. Oh. I'm going to just… let that sit for a second.

I want to be careful here not to lump all of the blame on actor Dane Dehaan, or the fact that he looks young. Look, I look young. It's not a crime.There were approximately seven hundred approaches to directing this character, and creating someone who is actually fun and likable, but they didn't go for it.


The likeable asshole is arguably the least interesting character type in the universe, but if you're going to go for it, they need to be extremely likable. Han Solo is likable because he came back to help his friends after everyone thought he took off. He actually cares and makes sacrifices. Also, he had a massive amount of charisma and presence. Valerian has none of that.

It really sucks, because there is totally a movie in there. I had a lot of fun watching Valerian, despite its shitty hero—there are fantastic action sequences and visual compositions and sight gags that are totally worth, you know, wishing the main character would just wander out of an airlock by accident. But I can't help but wish for the version of the movie that didn't shoot itself in the proverbial foot in this way.

How about you, dear readers? Is there a movie or game you genuinely like, but hate its main hero? I get the feeling there might be a few more "likable" assholes on the list…

Have thoughts? Swing by Waypoints forums to share them!