Murder husbands who came before Hannibal and Will


Hannibal Lector and Will Graham shocked viewers after they became TV’s “Murder Husbands”, but they weren’t the first.

It’s a time for remembrance among the Hannibal fans, or Fannibals. During the months of June through August, they get to relive every memorable moment the third season of Hannibal gave them. It’s been three years but they’ve never managed to fill in the void left by Hannibal and Will after they jumped off a cliff in a bloody embrace. Next month is the anniversary of when the fandom term “Murder Husbands” was used directly in the show. If you had listened closely that day you might have heard a chorus of fangirls squealing across America.

On June 22, the anniversary of the series cancellation, fans tweeted #FightingForS4 on Twitter to invoke interest in other networks to pick up the show. Since that day the Fannibals are back up and running. The De Laurentiis Production Company now has a Hannibal poster as their Twitter header and has the series listed under projects “currently in session.” It’s a life after death stronger than anything on The Walking Dead. A fan base so loyal, you can’t help but admire them.

Since the series finale, the fans have collectively published two books of fanart and fanfiction, pushed through a fan produced musical, set to start production this month; and single-handedly manufactured a Hannibal convention called FannibalFeast scheduled for October 11 in Toronto.

On August 13, 2017 conversations for the return of the series went underway but since then there has been no news, minus the occasional tease. Without any updates on season 4, I thought I’d honor these recent Hannibal fan rallies myself.  Who were the first murder husbands? Take a look at what might have been Bryan Fuller’s inspiration for their relationship

What are murder husbands?

Before Mads Mikkelsen and his cheekbones starred as Hannibal Lector, the cannibal was a horror icon. He still is, but now he’s a lady-killer (man-killer). A real relationship where someone stalks you and does all they can to control you is a horror show. However, in fiction, such actions are signs of the greatest love declaration; passion instead of possession.

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After fans watched the strange love story unfold, the character turned into a modern-day Hades searching for his Persephone. A story about an innocent’s decedent into Hellfire, becoming the devil’s co-conspirator. In other words, “Murder Husbands.” During the years Anthony Hawkins had the role, the character was not lovable, but frightening. Ugly like a skinless weasel, his eyes protruding out of his skin as he stares down Clarice Starling. “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti”. Not exactly the kind of guy to go on The Bachelor, but now he’s asexually bisexual and is searching for a companion who can understand him. Empathetic Will Graham is the only person who can do as such; understand and accept him. Isn’t that what everyone wants in a relationship?  The show is over, but the term “Murder Husbands” is sticking around. Now it’s used to describe possessive, borderline abusive relationships between two homicidal same men co-dependent on being within the presence of one another.

Before Hannibal

Long before the NBC series came around, other male couples were already violating the law together. Justin and Richard in Murder by Numbers; Stu and Billy in Scream; Tobias and Chris in OZ; Paul and Peter in Funny Games. These pairs came long before Hannibal, but none reached the same level of success as hannigram. But Brandon and Philip in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Rope, take the crown for being the first.

Since the airing of Hannibal, the Hitchcock film seems to be reborn. Fans of the series are now comparing the relationship between the two young men in this movie to the relationship between Hannibal and Will. Made in 1948, The Rope is about two well-off college boys who are rich enough to think they’re above the world. Though they’re also ignorant enough to feel the need to desperately impress others. Brandon and Philip, murder one of their own friends just to prove that they can. The rest of the movie takes place at a dinner party in the same room where the body is in. The movie’s premise is interesting enough, but as most of Hitchcock’s films slowly die away, The Rope gets a second life among Hannibal fans.

The real life murder husbands

Hitchcock did not pull this story out of thin air. It was inspired by real-life murderers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb; the original murder husbands. Hoping to perform the perfect murder, the two boys kidnapped and murdered 14-year-old Robert Franks in 1924. In a strange relationship, no one has been able to label combined with a guiltless murder just for thrills, the two have inspired multiple subsets of pop culture. Novels, movies, documentaries, and theater productions have retold their story for years.

Leopold, a child prodigy spoke his first words at just four months. He had an IQ of 210, spoke five languages, and planned on attending Harvard Law School. Loeb was also highly intelligent and skipped several grades, becoming the University of Michigan’s youngest graduate at 17. They became quick friends, bonding over crime editorials and Friedrich Nietzsche. Both put heavy faith in Nietzsche’s “Superman” theory, which theorizes how some humans are more highly evolved than others. Men and women with high elevated intelligence, physical appearance, and other qualities that make them superior. Leopold and Loeb were convinced they were two of these evolved beings and did the crime to prove it.

During “The Trial of the Century”, multiple eye-witness accounts, personal statements and an argument erupting between Leopold and Loeb in court, revealed their relationship to the world as something comparable to that between a master and a slave.

Ninety-four years later and still going

The case of Leopold and Loeb lives on through pop culture. Almost no one knows their names, but everyone knows their story. Looked at closely enough, its clear that all the “Murder Husbands” follow the same formula taken right out of history.

The original Hannibal Lector, from Thomas Harris’s novels, is based on both Ed Gein and Alfredo Balli Trevino. Two terrifying murderers that committed horrific crimes. Harris combines these men for his novel because they’re both utterly insane, particular, and in Harris’s words, “elegant.” The Red Dragon has little to no “Hannibal loves Will” messages. In the novel, Hannibal sees Will more as a threat than a companion. The basis of Will’s character is that he’s a version of Hannibal working within the law. The change of direction in the series is all Fuller and I like to think it came from Leopold and Loeb.

Next: NBC made a grave mistake when cancelling The Brave

The months of June, July and August are the months of Hannibal. Next month, on the 13th, it will be exactly one year since those conversations about Hannibal season 4 started. Maybe we’ll finally get some news.

Would you like to see Hannibal Season 4? What are you doing to encourage it to happen? Did you know of the previous “murder husbands?” Share in the comments below.