Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War's Shelob Takes The Form Of A Woman, Here's Why

Not sure if Tolkien would approve.

41 Comments

If you're a fan of The Lord of the Rings--or even if you've just seen The Return of the King--you'll remember the horrifyingly large spider, Shelob. The monster very nearly kills Frodo, after all, quite possibly coming closest of all enemies to actually halting Frodo's quest. But in Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Shelob takes the form of a decidedly un-monstrous woman. Recently, creative vice president Michael de Plater explained to Eurogamer why, exactly, Shelob isn't a massive spider in the game.

Monolith and de Plater, it turns out, have extended JRR Tolkien's lore to explain Shelob's transformation. De Plater views both Shelob and her minion, Gollum, as heroes of a sort, with Shelob having successfully manipulated Gollum into succeeding in destroying the One Ring, where Frodo failed. In his and the team's eyes, Shelob and Gollum are "more human" than the unnaturally moral main characters.

"A big part of what we do is look at these characters that are in kind of the grey zone--they're not as pure good as Gandalf or Aragorn, they're more human," he argued. "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."

As a result, having Shelob appear as a woman allowed Monolith to convey that duality more clearly. It allows them to draw distinctions, such as communicating that Shelob, and not Galadriel, is the more honest character.

"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," he explained. "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."

This transformation is couched in JRR Tolkien's fiction, although Tolkien, of course, never went so far as to portray Shelob as a woman. But de Plater argues that Shelob's lineage allows her to shapeshift: her mother, Ungoliant, is described by Tolkien in The Silmarillion as a primordial spirit with the ability to change her form.

De Plater's explanation sounds like not much more than elaborate head canon to me, but considering the breadth of the universe that Tolkien detailed, it's not too much of a stretch. In any case, Shadow of War's predecessor, Shadow of Mordor, already took many creative liberties with the fiction, such as making the Ring-maker Celebrimbor one of the main characters.

Shadow of War launches on October 10 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Warner Bros. recently detailed the game's online multiplayer functionality, which you can learn about here. In addition, you can read more about Shadow of War's loot box and microtransaction systems.

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GT_APE

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Dang. Nice trailer. Hope this is as good as the trailer was.

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uubershikamarux

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"I prefer boobies to 8 legs" creative vice president Michael de Plater

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ghost140

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If you say so creative vice president.

Personally I reimagined that scene in the trailer where she first transforms into woman and puts her arms out like she wants a hug. Instead she stays in her spider form and puts her forelegs out the same way and I find that much more interesting and unsettling since I have a spider phobia.

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Red_hot_smasher

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In other words: We made her a human woman because boobs sell stuff.

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Nabinator

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Da heck? You can't just make up your own lore and shit around existing characters for a franchise you're taking on

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TenraiSenshi

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Edited By TenraiSenshi

And so the butchery continues...

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karavanasam

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Edited By karavanasam

I hate spiders.That is good news for me then.

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catsimboy

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"In his and the team's eyes, Shelob and Gollum are "more human" than the unnaturally moral main characters."
What a bunch of pretentious toss! Maybe the Fellowship NEEDED to be pure good because, as you saw with Boromir, even the slightest darkness in one's heart can easily be manipulated by the Ring. I like complex villain characters, but sometimes a villain is a villain and you don't need to drag "morally grey" arguments into it.

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JustPlainLucas

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Well, at least it's more thought out than "she breathes through her skin." ....

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Zerabp

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@JustPlainLucas: No it's really, really not. At least "She breathes through her skin was actually still accurate to the character, this is a completely false narrative in context to the character.

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Avatar image for R4gn4r0k
R4gn4r0k

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@Zerabp: Guess what, game developers, even Peter Jackson, take liberties with the source material.

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Zerabp

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@R4gn4r0k: There is however a not so fine line between taking liberties and bastardization. This is the latter and clearly so.

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R4gn4r0k

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@Zerabp: How is it clearly when we clearly haven't played the game yet or interacted with the character yet ?

So many people bitched about Peter Jackson until they saw the movies.

I say we play the game first, and draw our conclusions after. Instead of drawing conclusions before playing the game :/

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Zerabp

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Edited By Zerabp

@R4gn4r0k: If you'd read the books you'd know that there is no possible context or interpretation of this character in the manner for which they are doing so.

Also nobody bitched about Peter Jackson until after the movies were made and they saw the results of his work. Peter Jackson's interpretation of the characters with the exception of Frodo and Arwyn, are considered to be quite accurate; It's only the ordering of events and the emphasis that he placed on events that gets criticized.

That is until you come to the Hobbit where each consecutive film did worse and the last two films being firmly panned by fans of the novel. Why? Because, unlike with LoTR, he took far too many liberties to the point where it became a bastardization of the story so far removed from it's source, as to become linked only tenuously to it.

What they have done here goes further than what Jackson did with The Hobbit films. Sometimes you can judge a book by it's cover and this is one of those cases. The trailers alone make it clear before playing the game that they have bastardized Shelob to where here character is literally and figuratively unrecognizable from the source.

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R4gn4r0k

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@Zerabp: I don't agree.

Plus I've read the books, so yet another conclusion you've drawn without even knowing (or caring to know) everything.

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Zerabp

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@R4gn4r0k: Lying about reading the books isn't very convincing.

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R4gn4r0k

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@Zerabp: So which book are you assuming now I did not read: The lotr trilogy or the hobbit ?

Also you are assuming my intentions were to convince some faceless stranger on the internet I don't really know or care about.

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Zerabp

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@R4gn4r0k: I know for a fact you haven't read at least The Two Towers, Return of the King, the appendices, or The Silmarillion. If you had read any of those let alone all of them you would not be arguing creative liberty out of ignorance of the subject at hand. It's blatantly obvious to anyone who's actually read any one of the books, or the appendices, that this change is not only inexcusable, but that the stated reasoning behind it is even worse than inexcusable.

As for your second statement, you're wrong, I don't assume your lying to try to convince me of anything. I know your lying because it is literally, yes literally, not figuratively, impossible to defend their decision, especially after their explanation and attempted justification. As for your reasoning I suspect it's an attempt to save face more than anything, the facts are your argumentum ignorantium reveals that your are lying.

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R4gn4r0k

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@Zerabp: Where have I defended these developers ? Please quote me on this.

All I said is developers, as well as movie directors take liberties. Hardly a defense, just a simple fact. But if you can quote me that'd be great.

You're wrong though. I've read the LOTR books and The Hobbit back to back. But it's hilarious to read your wrong assumptions about random people on the internet, so please continue so I can get more laughs out of this.

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Zerabp

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@R4gn4r0k: You need to work on your reading comprehension, likely one of the reasons you only claim to have read the books when you clearly have not.

First I never once claimed you were defending the devs. In fact I have this entire time been directly arguing against your now reiterated statement that they were merely taking creative liberties. To quote a line you clearly missed

"If you had read any of those let alone all of them you would not be arguing creative liberty out of ignorance of the subject at hand. It's blatantly obvious to anyone who's actually read any one of the books, or the appendices, that this change is not only inexcusable, but that the stated reasoning behind it is even worse than inexcusable."

This a direct argument against the idea that they are merely taking liberties. To reiterate if you had actually read either of the final two books, the appendices, or The Silmarillion, you would not be able to come to the slightest hint of the conclusion that this was taking creative liberties. Ironically before they made their statement you'd almost be able to make a very, very, poor argument that they were just taking creative liberties. However when you take things in context of their statement it becomes quite clear that they are as unfamiliar with Tolkein's universe as you are. Their statement justifying their very dumb decision, makes it clear that they are bastardizing the character, not taking creative liberties.

You do realize that you have made it clear that you are lying and that I'm laughing at you right? Like seriously you haven't attempted arguing anything of substance, instead using "they're taking creative liberties" as a cop out. By all means keep digging that hole though.

It's okay to admit ignorance by the way. Everyone is ignorant to a very large degree of numerous subjects.

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Avatar image for R4gn4r0k
R4gn4r0k

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@Zerabp:

"I know your lying because it is literally, yes literally, not figuratively, impossible to defend their decision"

Funny you accuse others of reading comprehession when you can clearly not even read:

"First I never once claimed you were defending the devs."

Read the sentence above. The one you wrote.

"You do realize that you have made it clear that you are lying and that I'm laughing at you right?"

The stuff you write is just insane and hilarious at the same time.

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Zerabp

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@R4gn4r0k: "defend their """"DECISION"""" (emphasis added). Your lack of reading comprehension strikes again.

"The stuff you write is just insane and hilarious at the same time." ... So you also lack self awareness, gotcha.

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Avatar image for R4gn4r0k
R4gn4r0k

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@Zerabp: All you have written is personal attacks aimed purely at me.

Is that really the best arguments you can come up with ?

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R4gn4r0k

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@Zerabp: I should have ended this discussion at:

"Guess what, game developers, even Peter Jackson, take liberties with the source material."

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Barighm

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Official reason: "Because cool story stuff!"

Real reason: "Needs more boobs."

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gamingdevil800

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Edited By gamingdevil800

The true purpose is for fan service, cosplay and sexy art. Not much of a hero though... I'm Pretty sure Sauron literally considered Shelob a pet cause she basically guarded an entrance to mordor by eating everything.

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Zerabp

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@gamingdevil800: In the appendices she is confirmed to be a servant of Sauron so yeah what you said.

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TwilightAngel

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Would'ave been cool to have interacted with a giant spider.

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gagula94

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Shelob and Gollum heroes? Shelob and Gollum more human than Gandalf and Aragorn? Even if I could swallow her being woman this is just bullshit.

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Zerabp

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@gagula94: Not necessarily where Gandalf is concerned as the wizards of Middle Earth are considered a completely different race. Still not heroes by any stretch.

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gagula94

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@Zerabp: It's not about being different race. It's having human like emotions, characteristics, motivations etc. You know, being humane. That was what I and I believe devs were referring to.

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Zerabp

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@gagula94: I don't disagree.

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bfa1509

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Edited By bfa1509

I identify as a spider and am calling out games developers as Arachnophobic for not having a spider protagonist.

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Xylymphydyte

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Microtransactions AND shitty slash fiction. Guess what I'm not buying!

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yukushi

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Disgusting why would they mess with the story like that, a little change is good but they went too far, as a sign of protest I will not be buying this game on day one, instead I will catch it later on in a sale for cheap.

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Pyrosa

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Because "F U, Tolkien."

Absolutely disgusting abuse of the license. Hope his heirs choke on the dumptrucks of money in this case... I'm a Capitalist, but some art is sacred.

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Zerabp

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@Pyrosa: The Tolkein estate is actually currently suing WBs and WBs Game Studios for breach of contract as they feel the same way you do about these games.

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Zerabp

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Edited By Zerabp

@CallMeDuraSouka: Just read up on it again and unfortunately it's in regards to slot machines, not the SoM games. Hopefully they see this statement and use it to sue for the same reasons. Sorry for getting your hopes up.

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