Credit: New Line Cinema/Entertainment Weekly
EDIT: Check out my review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug! It’s got spoilers, so beware.
I haven’t forgotten about all my Tolkien talk, both the Frodo/Sam talk and the other talk I haven’t even begun yet (like laws in Middle Earth, the Orcs possibly being shady stand-ins for British India, Tolkien’s worldly philosophy, etc.). To show that 1) I haven’t left Middle Earth and 2) that I’m capable of talking about more than gay hobbits, here’s some discussion on what is now probably an infamous first look picture of Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel (seen above). Tauriel is an elf, but not just any elf, as Lilly explains to EW.com:
“She’s slightly reckless and totally ruthless and doesn’t hesitate to kill…Tauriel is the head of the Elven Guard. She’s a Sylvan Elf…which means she’s of a much lower order than the elves we all became acquainted with in The Lord of the Rings. She doesn’t hold the same kind of status that Arwen or Galadriel or Elrond or Legolas do — she’s much more lowly. She sort of goes against the social order of the elves a little bit.
She will definitely have a love story…I can’t give away too much about it. It’s not a huge focus but it is there and it is important and it does drive Tauriel and her story and her actions…Tauriel’s relationship with Legolas is significant. They’ve known each other since they were children, and Legolas’ dad, [Elven king] Thrandruil, has a soft spot for Tauriel and sees something very special in her. So if you grow up side by side, and your dad has a very special spot in his heart for this young woman who’s a fantastic warrior, I think it’s hard not to notice her. … That’s probably as much as I can say.”
Lilly also goes on to say that she’s prepared for the imminent backlash her character’s going to recieve, seeing how Tauriel is a completely made-up character not originally belonging to the Tolkien world. In other words, Peter Jackson and his writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens invented Tauriel to provide some more estrogen in an otherwise testosterone-filled world of characters. I also think they wanted to get in on that Brave money and attract women (and their daughters) who are looking for some strong female characters they can call their own. As you can see from that last sentence, I’m about to have a very cynical view about Tauriel.
Look, I was one of the many people who was up in arms about Merida being sexed up to cater to the whims of Disney powers-that-be that figured little girls want to be told they have to have a face full of makeup and glitter to be beautiful. I understand that thanks to the banking power of Bridesmaids and The Hunger Games, women audiences now have a slew of female characters to choose from since studios realized that yes, women do want to see something different than the same old Meg Ryan/Julia Roberts/Jennifer Aniston/”insert other white actress here” chick-flick. They do want something that tests their brains a little. They don’t always want to go on an imaginary shopping spree with characters on screen. Tauriel is supposed to be a continuation of this really great trend in movies.
HOWEVER, I’m not even a hardcore Tolkien fan and I’m a little bit outraged by Tauriel’s existence. First of all, there’s a whiff of “money grab” with her. I already pointed out Brave–it seems they want Tauriel to have a lot of Merida’s characteristics. She’s an archer, which, to be honest, is expected of an elf warrior in this world, so I can’t really hold that against her. But, she’s got extremely green robes and red hair, just like another certain someone we know. Since when have elves had red hair in this world? The only real hair colors they seem to have are platinum blonde or brown. Perhaps I’m being a bit too cynical, but something just seems off about her design, not to mention the fact that she’s been photoshopped within an inch of her life, which makes her look like she actually is a CG game character.
Secondly, she’s suffering from Extreme Mary-Sue Disorder. If you don’t know what a Mary-Sue is, a Mary-Sue is a fan-generated female character that can do everything the fanfiction writer can’t. She’s basically the writer’s avatar in the world, except the avatar has no resemblance to humanity. Mary-Sues generally have crazy-colored hair and/or eyes that don’t belong in the canon universe, has an abnormally long laundry list of powers or special skills, falls in love with the main male character or the character the writer loves the most, has unrealistic relationships to other characters who otherwise wouldn’t like her, and is generally seen as “cool” by everyone in the story, regardless if they should be on her side or not.
Let’s list the Mary-Sue symptoms Tauriel suffers from, shall we?
- Has red hair, an anomaly among elves
- Is the Head of the Elven Guard, even though she is clearly not of the right rank to have this title. Remember–she’s Sylvan (or Silvan); Lilly said herself that Tauriel is of a much lower order. In so many words, Tauriel is like the street urchin of elves. Let’s not forget she’s supposed to go against the social order. From what I’ve seen and read about elves, they seem less like mortals (well, they aren’t mortals, anyway) and much more like hive-minded insects. I don’t think the elves would appreciate Tauriel’s non-hive-mind thinking since it would be creating disorder in their otherwise orderly hive.
- Could be in love with Legolas. Now, in all honesty, that could happen, I guess. Legolas did form a deep friendship with Gimli, a dwarf. Even though I just derided Tauriel for her ditching the “One of us” thinking, I have to admit that Legolas doesn’t support much of that thinking himself. He’s actually in the middle–he’s a hive-minded person to an extent, but because he goes along with the hive most of the time, he can get away with ditching their rules from time to time. He doesn’t cause quite as much of a disturbance as Tauriel obviously does. So, since Legolas does have the penchant to do his own thing, it could be possible that he could form a friendship (even–gasp–a serious relationship) with Tauriel. But, because of the symptoms listed above, it just reads as “Mary-Sue.” Of course she’d fall in love with the most handsome of elves apart from Thranduil (who is just above-and-beyond glamorous). Why shouldn’t she, since she’s somehow also made up the ranks to Head of the Elven Guard even though she hates authority and rules?
(As an aside, I know some women might be reading this and think, “Well, where’s the outrage about men who rise up the ranks while hating authority and rules, like Kirk? Do you just hate this because Tauriel’s a woman?” No, I don’t. I actually don’t like that Reboot!Kirk thinks he can just rewrite the rules, either. I pride myself on being a free-thinker, but even I have to put my foot down and say that some rules are there for a reason. You can’t just break every rule just because you hate it. So even though what happened to Kirk in the film is almost eye-rolling, I’m glad something drastic happened to him so he can learn that there’s a price to pay for having your own way all the time. End of meta-rant.)
The kicker to all of these symptoms is this:
- Thranduil has a soft spot for Tauriel. REALLY, PETER JACKSON, ET AL.? Really?? Let me show you Thranduil.Do you expect this guy–who obviously has a high opinion of himself, his son Legolas, and the other regal members of his kind–to not only welcome and nurture Tauriel–who, in his eyes, would be nothing more than elf riff raff–but find it in his heart to develop a soft spot for her? This guy?? Are we talking about the same guy? From what I have read and seen of Thranduil, I just wouldn’t expect that kind of behavior from him. I’d expect it from Galadriel, who is far wiser, but not from Thranduil. If Legolas did ever have a relationship with Tauriel, it’d have to be without his father’s knowledge, or he’d surely split them up.
I’ve already committed to seeing this film with my brother, but now that this photo has come out, I’m certainly more interested in seeing it now. I have to see how Tauriel is going to be portrayed. What do you think about Tauriel? Give your comments below! Keep in mind that I’m a novice, so if you have some deep Middle Earth knowledge you feel you must school me on, be gentle.