Anticipating Middle-Earth Epicness

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Three awesome scenes we really hope make it into Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy.

When it was announced that Peter Jackson’s film rendition of “The Hobbit“ would draw not only from the classic book but also J.R.R. Tolkien’s various other world-building texts, most people didn’t really grasp what that meant. Despite the fact that the Oxford Linguist spent the majority of his life constructing an elaborate history for Middle-earth, most people are totally unfamiliar with this mythology because the first sentence of “The Silmarillion” (his posthumous magnum opus) is this:

There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Illûvatar; and he made first tha Aiunur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought, and they were with him before aught else was made.

Anyone who likes fantasy is used to dealing with a few made-up words, but “The Silmarillion” is like 300 pages long and never stops giving you new ones. This, along with the “Rings” appendices and a few lesser books make up a rich and complex mythology, but since it’s basically a half-finished translation of a story written in a fictional language, is it worth digging through?

The answer is yes, because some of this stuff is way cooler than anything that happens in Tolkien’s better-known works. Below is a trio of the coolest scenes to look forward to that most fans don’t even know about.

The Coming of the Wizards to Middle-Earth

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What You’ve Seen Before

We only see two wizards in the Rings trilogy, and little of what we’re going to call “wizarding,” but it’s kept pretty clear that these are not beings to be taken lightly. Old men or not, they seem to have almost unlimited power at their fingertips.

What You Could See This Time

In Middle-earth lore, wizards are a king of being called Maiar, which are the same kind of creature as Balrogs but in a different form. They were sent to Middle-earth 2,000 years before Frodo was born to fight “the shadow in Mirkwood,” which was assumed to be a Nazgûl but was discovered to be Sauron’s first return. (If you hear anyone talking about “The Necromancer” in The Hobbit, you can bet they’re talking about Sauron and just don’t know it yet.) There are five of these Istari, or wizards: Saruman the White, Gandalf the Grey, Radagast the Brown, and Alatar and Palladano the Irrelevant.

Okay, those last two are actually “the Blue,” but they go East before anything interesting happens and Tolkien died before he got around to telling us what they were up to.

Likelihood This’ll Happen

About 75%. Ian McKellan and Christopher Lee reprise their respective roles as Gandalf and Saruman, and Sylvester McCoy is aboard to play Radagast. It would be crazy for Jackson to feature these characters and not explore their combat prowess. Radagast has the potential to be the most visually interesting of the three, since his powers revolve around manipulating the flora and fauna of Middle-earth, even though the fact that Saruman tricked him into helping is half of what gave the corrupted wizard such an advantage. Also, the poor guy was totally cut out of Lord of the Rings and replaced by a damn moth, so he’s due some screen time.

The War of Dwarves and Orcs

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What You’ve Seen Before

Nothing like this. Ever.

What You Could See This Time

This is a massive war, set almost entirely underground, and all for vengeance. It begins when the dwarven King Thror, upset about losing his kingdom to Smaug, tries to reclaim Moria and is killed by the Azog the orc, who cuts off the king’s head, carves his name on the dwarf’s skull and stuffs money in his mouth as payment. It’s fought over nine years, mostly underground, and manages to involve both Smaug the dragon and the Balrog that fought Gandalf on the bridge of Khazad-Dûm. It’s during this war that Thorin Oakenshield, who leads the party at the core of the “Hobbit” story, earns his last name: after his shield is shattered in battle, he chops down an oak tree to defend himself from attacking orcs.

Likelihood We’ll See This

About 75%. Thror has been cast, and a Kiwi actor named John Rawls was cast to play Azog briefly before his character’s name was changed in later press releases to Yazneg, a name that doesn’t appear in any of Tolkien’s books. Since Thror’s purpose is to be a deposed king wrongfully murdered, putting this battle on screen would allow Jackson to provide Thorin with some clear motivation, paint a picture of Dwarven culture, and also kick the movies off with an epic war-scene just as he did The Fellowship of the Ring.

Fingon vs. Gothmog, Lord of the Balrogs

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What You’re Familiar With

The most famous scene in the Rings trilogy is Gandalf’s stand against the Balrog at the bridge of Khazad-Dûm. Aside from Gandalf’s non-sequitur-y resume reading and his description of the Flame of Udun comment, we don’t learn much about these creatures.

What You Could See This Time

Udun is one of Morgoth’s oldest and greatest fortresses, and the home of the Balrogs. Similar to how Gandalf and the other wizards were sent to Middle-Earth to guide men and elves, Balrogs were corrupted by Morgoth specifically so they could ruin everyone’s day. Back in the first age, thousands of years before “The Hobbit” is set, there is a whole army of them, led by a Balrog lord called Gothmog, and at they even joined the Noldor (a society of elves) in battle a few times. At one point, Gothmog even duels Fingon, the king of the Noldor, and the elf takes on a whole host of Balrogs by himself. We won’t ruin the ending, but Fingon’s head gets cut in half (so turns out we kinda did ruin the ending).

Likelihood We’ll See This

About 5%, with a 100% margin of error. As amazing as an entire army of Balrogs would be, this is pretty irrelevant to the happenings of “The Hobbit.” Also, since it occurs in “The Silmarillion,” which is still owned by the Tolkien estate, it’s unlikely it would even be legal for Jackson to put this scene in his movies. So this last entry is really just an exercise in disappointment. Still… an army of Balrogs. That’s pretty awesome, right?

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