Wednesday 5 January 2011

A superhero Fellowship of the Ring


In an idle moment I found myself speculating about who would have made up The Fellowship of the Ring, if the members had been chosen on the basis of their 'power' (instead of being representative of the different races and types in Middle Earth, and by Elrond and Gandalf's intuitions.).

This is the list I came up with:

1. Gandalf (Leader of resistance to Sauron. Elvish ringbearer, Maia.)

2. Elrond (Leader of the free peoples of Middle Earth, very old yet with undiminished powers, prophet, greatest healer, Elvish ringbearer, great warrior)

3. Galadriel (Main elvish leader, elvish ringbearer, tremendous powers of foresight and mind-reading, great warrior).

4. Arwen (as a sort-of reincarnation of Luthien, who recovered a Silamril, would be expected to have great powers of enchantment).

5. Glorfindel (clearly an elf of tremendous strength with power to intimidate the Nazgul; and a reincarnate Balrog-slayer)

6. Aragorn (the greatest of Men - and most of the greatest Middle Earth heroes have been Men; hunter, tracker, warrior. A Man is needed in the Fellowship; since men, and hobbits, have an existential freedom of will denied to elves and Gods who are a part of the earth).

7. Sam Gamgee (as bearer of the One ring; since Sam is the person in Middle Earth with - apparently - the greatest resistance to the power of the Ring - with possible exception of Bilbo - who was too old and decrepit to participate.)


(Of course this superhero FotR would have failed - since they did not have providence on their side - and presumably because one or more of them would try to take the Ring for themselves. Another puzzle - if this bunch did get into a fight over the Ring - who would win? (leaving aside Gandalf) - not that it would matter much, in the long run... )



Daniel said...

Clearly any Fellowship that wanted to maximize its power would attempt to enlist Saruman, the Nazgul, and if at all possible, Sauron himself.

Presumably this is the reason "power" is not the primary criterion.

(Yes, I realize you are just having fun with this post. But then, I'm only doing the same thing with this comment.)

Bruce Charlton said...

Well, yes! but this wouldn't be a Fellowship of the Ring.

I am still assuming that the aim of the exercise is to take the One Ring to the cracks of doom and destroy it.

These are super-heroes; not super-villains!

So, on *that* basis - do you have any suggested improvements?

Daniel said...

Touché, Mr. Charlton!

I did think it was kind of witty though, if I may flatter myself (not that I ever seem to require an invitation).

Well, the other three characters that are extremely powerful and yet not *evil*, are three remaining Maia that are mentioined as living on Middle Earth at the time of the War of the Ring.

Tom Bombadil, Goldberry, and Rhadagast the Brown. The problem with these characters would be that while they are *good*, they are also somewhat *neutral* as regards the larger world. Their power and — it seems — their motivations are limited to un-warlike concerns, specifically the natural world. Though none of them manifests powers in a military way in the books, one senses that all three — especially Bombadil — could be fearsome opponents of evil in their own particular way.

In fact, one could say that the Hobbits themselves belong in that same category, not a "Power" for good, yet nevertheless Good, and therefore useful. The true Men of the West and the Orcs could be said to have the same relationship to Gandalf and to Sauron, respectively, that the Hobbits have to Tom Bombadil and Goldberry. If the simple, garden-loving, beer-drinking Hobbits belonged in the original Fellowship, then it's not a stretch to say that these "Neutral-Good" Maia could potentially do the same, and with much greater "superpowers" at their disposal.

I think of them because (though I haven't read the books in a while), I seem to recall that they, together with Gandalf, Saruman, and Sauron are the only Silmarilion-era Angelic/Demonic great powers mentioned in the time of the War. The other exception is Shelob the Great Spider, who could be described as "Neutral Evil".

If we are including mere mortals like Aragorn, other candidates might include Eowyn and Faramir, both of whom show more nobility and perseverance than Boromir. But then, noble as they are, perhaps they don't belong on a "superhero" fellowship along with mighty forces like Gandalf and Galadriel. And plus, one could argue that it was Boromir's betrayal of Frodo that made possible Sam and Frodo's later determination not to be like him even when things got much worse.

A testament to the greatness of these books: one can't really think of a Fellowship that would work better than the one that actually succeeded. It needed its weaknesses as much as its strengths. Still... a fun exercise for devotees!

Alistair Morley said...

Alas, this one has been done before; see "The Dream Fellowship".

...and endless RPG cracks about force structure and party balance ("too many halflings, not enough wizards, healers, archers etc...")

Still, its an amusing conceit which focuses on the lesson Tolkein was trying to put across.

Bruce Charlton said...

Thanks for the link - enjoyable stuff!