Ten years ago, Orlando Bloom created an iconic character with his portrayal of Legolas. I’m excited to announce today that we’ll be revisiting Middle Earth with him once more. I’m thrilled to be working with Orlando again. Funny thing is, I look older—and he doesn’t! I guess that’s why he makes such a wonderful elf.
And of course, the news sites act as if this is some impossible-to-foresee event, that Tolkien purists will only now be outraged. As if Tolkien fans were fine with everything up to this point.
Again, this is from the people who:
- Added entire sequences from whole cloth
- Rendered Sauron as a floating eyeball
- Made Aragorn renounce his kingship so he can Go On A Journey
- Cut out Glorfindel and replaced his role with Arwen
- Invented an entire secondary antagonist only for Aragorn to kill him
- Rearranged the entire plot structure of the middle third
- Put Elves in Helm's Deep
- Have Frodo dismiss Sam and Sam abandon Frodo
- Completely warped Faramir, Denethor, Theoden and others
- Have the Oathbreakers save the day in the most contrived way possible
- And much, much more
And in the upcoming film already:
- Are expanding a self-contained single story into a two-parter using supplementary material
- Have invented a peppy female elf warrior
- Have already stuck in Saruman, Galadriel and Radagast despite them not appearing in the book
Really, any Tolkien purists who are only now starting to get the idea that they might have problems with the upcoming film have no sympathy from me. The idea that all the many divergences from the stories were perfectly alright, but inserting Orlando Bloom - no, that's a step too far.
I really doubt there are any Tolkien purists thinking that, though: more likely the media just seems to imagine their own things. After all, fantasy fans are still easy targets. The Lord of the Rings trilogy may be among the most Oscar-blessed films in history, The Harry Potter series may be among the highest-earning series, and A Game of Thrones may be one of the most popular TV shows in recent years, but heaven help the guys who still read those musty old tomes. They're still fair game.
I truly don't foresee The Hobbit films being substantially different from the trilogy. They're going to get some things pitch-perfect, they're going to do some things very well, they're going to do some things that aren't in the book but work well in context, and they're going to do some things that have Tolkien fans tearing their hair out. Orlando Bloom's Legolas isn't going to doom or save this film: it's fate has already been sealed in the minds of Tolkien fans, for good or ill.