Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit may have noticed something a bit odd in the trailer for the second film of Peter Jackson’s trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. A certain archery-inclined elf named Legolas (Orlando Bloom) features prominently, despite not showing up once in the original book. As always, Jackson has his reasons, and it seems he plans to have Legolas serve as the connective tissue between the two Middle-Earth trilogies.
Jackson explains his motivations for including Legolas by pointing out that The Elf King remains unnamed in his appearance in The Hobbit until almost two decades later when Tolkien decided to name him in The Lord of the Rings. Called Thranduil, it was henceforth known that Legolas was the Elf King’s son, so putting Legolas in The Hobbit – where his father is, of course, featured prominently – actually seems like an extremely natural next step. And by including not only Thranduil and Legolas, but a brand-new elven character of the filmmaker’s invention – Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly – the film is enriched with three conflicting characters from the same race. “Thranduil, Legolas and Tauriel are all on different flight paths,” he says, “which makes it much more interesting ability for Fran [Walsh] and I to tell the narrative through their eyes.”
Jackson is a bit vague on how exactly Legolas will be tying the two trilogies together. For her part, Lilly has said that “Peter, Fran, and Philippa [Boyens] brilliantly tied the last Hobbit film to the first Lord of the Rings film through the one character would could do that, which is Legolas.” So while information is sparse, that is at least a promising sign of good things to come for fans of both trilogies.
While we will have to wait for 2014’s The Hobbit: There and Back Again to see how this all plays out, our own Jonathan Lack, in his review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, has noted both Legolas and Tauriel as highlights of the new film, so it appears fans do not have long to wait to see these unexpected character inclusions begin to pay off.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug arrives this Friday, December 13th, in 3D, 2D, and high-frame-rate 3D theatres.