The Wonderfully Crazy Theory That Explains Why A Giant Spider Is A Sexy Lady In Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, the latest video game set in the world of Lord of the Rings, looks like some crazy Tolkien fanfiction. Its most recent trailer went even wilder, and introduced us to, among other things, the giant spider Shelob... in the form of human woman. How? Why? The team behind the game has a reason, and it's a weird one.

Image: Still via YouTube

Speaking to Eurogamer about the decision to include Shelob, both in her more usual spider-form and as the sultry woman you see above (wearing a new ring of power, because like I said, this game goes some places), video game studio Monolith's creative vice president Michael de Plater explained that the game took inspiration from Tolkien's books — specifically the description of Shelob's spider-mum, Ungoliant. In the books, Ungoliant was described as an evil spirit who "took on the form" of a Spider, so why not have Shelob be able to "take on the form of a sexy lady"?

Why would you take the form of a spider? Because they're terrifying. It really is to provoke fear, there's a psychological dimension to that, and the other thing with Ungoliant and the spirit of darkness is this line that she hates light but she craves it, and so Celebrimbor and the new ring also represent this new thing that she has a love/hate relationship with.

Uh-huh. OK. de Plater's comments are amazing because they display a lot of Tolkien knowledge and a lot of thought, while also being completely out there.

But wait, there's even more! de Plater went on to argue he felt like seeing Shelob in a non-spider form helped contrast her with Galadriel as a dichotomy of light and dark... and that actually, Shelob and Gollum are the secret real heroes of the entire Lord of the Rings saga. de Plater apparently believes that Gollum's deal with Shelob to off Frodo before he can get to Mount Doom was because the two could sense Frodo would be too weak-willed to cast the ring into the fires himself, its pull being too strong, while Gollum, who would indeed eventually help destroy the ring, would be more capable of the momentous task:

So you've got Shelob representing darkness and then you've got Galadriel representing light, so you've got a duality between these two powerful women basically opposing each other in the same way that there's a lot of duality in our game. So we thought those two in opposition are really interesting, and the way Galadriel basically manipulated and sent people off on these different quests [testing the Fellowship with the mirror in Lothlórien] but ultimately left to themselves that quest [to destroy the ring] would have failed. Then you think of Shelob as almost the dark mirror to her, who actually had this minion [Gollum] that... if you think about it in a way, ultimately succeeded.

We were also thinking really in a lot of ways that, not intentionally, but it felt like Gandalf and Galadriel kind of lied to them [the Fellowship] a little bit about their chances and what differentiates Shelob is that she's completely honest.. So she's evil, or perceived as evil, but she has this honesty to her, and so as we started thinking through that and thinking of her as this dark mirror to Galadriel and filling that role in our story of that narrator and what that would look like.

I mean, sure, this whole theory relies on you thinking that Gollum threw the ring into Mount Doom with himself purposefully, rather than accidentally dropping it and then chasing after it in one final act of greed, but still. Also: Whaaaaaaaaaat? 

With explanations like these, it feels like the story of Shadow of War has gone completely off the deep end in a way that's probably both deeply alarming to Tolkien purists and yet also crazy enough that it seems kind of intriguing. I mean, after you turn giant spiders into women walking around Mordor in fancy evening wear, where else do you go from there?

You'll find out when Shadow of War hits shelves October 11.

[Eurogamer]


Comments

    How about the loot boxes full of orcs that you have to pay real money for? What's the canon explanation for that bullshit?

      Long ago, a handmaid to lady Celebrian grew jealous of her mistress's relationship with Elrond, and when the twins Elladan and Elrohir were born, it was the last straw. The handmaid fled Imladris and crossed the misty mountains, living in the shadow of Greenwood the Great for a thousand years, nursing a growing and bitter hatred of the elves of Imladris and Lorien. It was there that the Necromancer found her upon taking up residence in Dol Goldur. After suffering countless cruel tortures and experiments upon her, the handmaid gave birth to twins, dark mirrors of Elladan and Elrohir. These foul creatures bore little resemblence to any living thing, and snuffled in the dark holes of the earth, forever grasping and strangling anything they came across. Their name... the War'ner Brothers.

        Truly the foulest of sorcerers.

        But how do they stuff orcs in boxes?

          The War'ner Brothers found their way to the holds of the wicked dwarves, who had awoken in the Orocarni mountains in the east, beyond the sea of Rhun, and who had fallen under the influence of Sauron in the Second and Third Ages. Cleverly observing the cruel craftsmanship of the dwarves, the Brothers devised the "dushuk luzdh" (Kh. "wealth service") whereby they utilised foul sorcery to imprison orc spawn in small phylacteries, which would contain them for centuries whilst permitting them to fully mature, ready to burst forth when released by the keeper of the phylactery. Such phylacteries became highly prized in the late third age, and orc or uruk warlords would often trade vast sums to possess one.

    I'm noticing that theres lots of "likes" and "kind ofs" in that guys explanation.

    Sounds like fan fiction to me....

      Well the Shadow of Mordor/War games basically are fan fiction, because they're not considered canon last I checked.

        100% fan fiction, just cool ideas bending the lore of the books/films.

    It's a bit ridiculous... how is it someone who succumbed to the power of the ring almost instantly and was eventually reduced to a psychotic junkie who'd deceive, maim, kill and be killed just to have the ring again in his hands going to be "more strong willed" than Frodo at letting the ring go, forever?

      Yeah, it's bollocks. Gollum tried to take back the ring, end of story. The only reason he died was that he lost his balance and fell into the fires of Mount Doom. Ascribing noble motives to him is ridiculous.

    I'm guessing the real (not 'canon') reason is very similar to the real reason Stallone's Dredd only wore a helmet for about two seconds in the film.

    Sigh, so many problems:

    So you've got Shelob representing darkness...

    Shelob doesn't 'represent' anything or anyone except herself. She even eats her own offspring. She certainly isn't some sort of figurehead or leader.

    ...and then you've got Galadriel representing light...

    OK, I'll let this one slide, although Galadriel wasn't even the leader of the White Council, which itself didn't exist until well after Sauron returned. At best you'd call her an 'accidental' representative of 'light' (considering her rebellious past).

    ...so you've got a duality between these two powerful women basically opposing each other in the same way that there's a lot of duality in our game.

    Bollocks they were opposing each other! It's entirely arguable they never knew each other existed, quite apart from Shelob being isolated and self-interested and Galadriel being almost as isolated and self-interested.

    So we thought those two in opposition are really interesting...

    Stahp!

    ...and the way Galadriel basically manipulated and sent people off on these different quests [testing the Fellowship with the mirror in Lothlórien] but ultimately left to themselves that quest [to destroy the ring] would have failed.

    No. The Fellowship's quest was decided by the Council of Elrond - nothing to do with Galadriel. And sending people on quests? What quests!?

    Then you think of Shelob as almost the dark mirror to her, who actually had this minion [Gollum] that... if you think about it in a way, ultimately succeeded.

    Shelob had no minions. She had no goals apart from feeding. The idea that Gollum had any further relationship with Shelob than promising to lead prey to her is ludicrous. The only thing Gollum 'succeeded' at was to recover the Ring, which he did (briefly).

    I love it! We are essentially getting the "graphic novel-grade ripoff/spinoff" from PJ's films in the form of what looks like a pretty decent game. Like, say, season 6 of Angel became a bonkers post apocalyptic comic.

    doesnt bother me, if the gameplay is awesome and this stuff just serves as eye candy and a capable story on its own legs, then im happy with that. i wont take it as lore, and i wont bother trying to scrutinise it, ill just take it as is like i didnt know anything else, that way, expectations are low, and more joy can be had.

    Quick make a weak ass excuse why we are not pervs... shes half naked cause she breathed through her skin... shes trying to seduce the hero (when fear is her greatest power not illusions)... she the ruler of a species not of her own for reasons (Sylvanas, Peach...). Dont make excuses, admit the reason. Sex sells.

    Jim Sterling pretty much nailed this one.

    Given the Tolken estate lawsuit was resolved in undisclosed agreement due to issues with online games and gambling... I am surprised this got approved in both lame story excuses and the virtual lootbox gambling.

      P.S. Has anyone asked the Tolkein estate for comnent on the contriversies about this game???

    Well I stand corrected.

    Here I thought it was just to give gamergaters something to masturbate over.

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