Shelob is the giant spider character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium. Appearing in the fourth book. she’s a terrifying and menacing beast that is said to predate the events of The Lord of the Rings by many ages. And she’s independent of Sauron and his actions and influences, she remains herself sinister.
That being said, despite being an enormous spider, in Warner Bros. and Monolith Production’s upcoming Middle-earth: Shadow of War she is less enormous and not a spider at all. She’s a woman: news that was not well-received by some of the series’ more hardcore fans.
Controversy aside, many fans were simply wondering why Monolith Productions decided to flex some creative freedom and depict the character in not the the traditional manner. Well, according to Monolith’s creative vice president Michael de Plater, not only did the change make sense for the game’s story, but it actually is plausible within the series’ lore.
Shelob is notably the daughter of Ungoliant, who described by Tolkien himself is an evil spirit that takes on the form of a spider. And while Shelob follows suit of her mother and assumes the form of a spider, the point is she doesn’t have to. She chooses to be a spider, but could take the form of whatever she pleased. Thus within the context of the lore, de Plater and co’s decision to have Shelob take on the form of a woman is completely possible.
The creative vice president goes on, offering his take on why Shelob takes on the form of a spider to begin with:
“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.”
Further, because Shelob has a need to communicate with Talion on his quest, it makes sense that she might opt to take on the form of a woman rather than a hulking spider.
Wherever you may fall on the decision, one thing that is clear is Monolith is clearly passionate about the series, and has invested a lot of time with its lore and characters.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War is set to launch for Xbox One, PC, PS4 on October 10, 2017. It will support both Xbox One X and PS4 Pro.
In other recent and related news, Warner Bros. and Monolith Productions announced and detailed Shadow of War’s endgame, as well announced the addition of microtransactions and loot boxes (an announcement that didn’t go over well).