Who is Tom Bombadil? The Stan Lee of Lord of the Rings, mainly.

Who is Tom Bombadil? The Stan Lee of Lord of the Rings, basically.

There are two sorts of Lord of the Rings e book followers. The ones who despise Tom Bombadil, fingers down the weirdest character in The Lord of the Rings, and those who’ve memorized each phrase of his foolish rhyming songs.

2021 marks The Lord of the Rings films’ 20th anniversary, and we could not think about exploring the trilogy in only one story. So every Wednesday all year long, we’ll go there and again once more, inspecting how and why the movies have endured as trendy classics. This is Polygon’s Year of the Ring.

Then there are Lord of the Rings film followers, who could know nothing of the character, as Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Fran Walsh couldn’t discover room for him of their three-picture adaptation — even within the Extended Editions. Anyone who hasn’t learn the books has doubtless encountered Bombadil Discourse, however could by no means absolutely perceive how one character can encourage such robust feelings.

I’ve a solution for film followers. An reply that may even flip some Bombadil skeptics into Bombadil boosters.

Tom Bombadil is the Stan Lee Cameo of The Lord of the Rings.

Who is Tom Bombadil, actually

Multimedia LOTR buffs know Tom Bombadil as one of the crucial well-known omissions that the film trilogy makes from J.R.R. Tolkien’s books. He’s additionally a particular favorite of famous Tolkien nerd Stephen Colbert.

But to elaborate for the viewer’s sake, Tom Bombadil marks a wierd three-chapter digression early within the pages of The Fellowship of the Ring. Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin take a shortcut by the Old Forest on the border of the Shire, solely to be mesmerized and practically drowned by an clever and malicious tree referred to as Old Man Willow. They are rescued by a cheerful, bearded man “too large and heavy for a hobbit, if not quite tall enough for one of the Big People,” sporting a blue coat, yellow boots, and a hat with a feather in it. He continually spouts nearly nonsensical rhyming couplets.

There was a sudden deep silence, by which Frodo might hear his coronary heart beating. After a protracted sluggish second he heard plain, however distant, as if it was coming down by the bottom or by thick partitions, an answering voice singing:

Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow,
Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow,
None has ever caught him but, for Tom, he’s the grasp:
His songs are stronger songs, and his ft are quicker.

This is Tom Bombadil, “Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!,” who whisks them off to his healthful house to satisfy his stunning spouse, Goldberry, the “River-woman’s daughter.” And along with not being a Man or a hobbit or a dwarf or a wizard, Tom has bizarre powers. A chapter later, he rescues the hobbits from a terrifying undead creature, the Barrow-wight, just by commanding it. He can converse to vegetation and animals (his pony’s identify is Fatty Lumpkin). Weirdest of all, he can placed on the Ring of Power with out turning invisible or being tempted by it.

Readers have tried for many years to puzzle out a spot for Tom Bombadil within the bigger Middle-earth delusion, suggesting that he’s secretly one among Middle-earth’s gods, or demigods. One (humorous) essay theorizes that he’s the Witch-King of Angmar on trip. Even readers who like Tom Bombadil should admit that the he raises the query: Where the hell did this man come from?

Here’s the place Tom Bombadil got here from

For most of his life, Tolkien picked away at what he noticed as his final artistic work, The Silmarillion. When completed, he wished the e book to be an intricate assortment of great heroic delusion supposed to evoke marvel and emotion in adults. But within the meantime, he was within the behavior of creating up tales for his youngsters, essentially the most well-known of which turned The Hobbit itself.

Tom Bombadil sits by a river on the cover of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.

Image: HarperCollins Publishers

But there have been extra than simply The Hobbit. Around 1925, Tolkien wrote a full size story, Roverandom, to console one among his sons who had misplaced his toy canine on a household trip. Tom Bombadil started life as one other story impressed by a family toy. After one among his sons’ dolls — kitted out with a feathered hat — was rescued from a extreme bathroom dunking by the hands of its proprietor’s brother, Tolkien wrote a poem “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil” that specified by element how Tom met Goldberry, daughter of the river, escaped Old Man Willow, and encountered a Barrow-wight.

After the success of The Hobbit, Tolkien’s writer was very fascinated by one other e book about Hobbits for youngsters, and the writer mused on this for a couple of week earlier than he wrote his first try on the first chapter of the sequel, about Bilbo Baggins having an enormous party simply earlier than leaving on a brand new journey.

The Hobbit is a really episodic story, doubtless resulting from its origins as a bedtime story conceived by a tough working father. Bilbo encounters trolls, goblins, wargs, elf kings, and even Beorn the skin-changer and passes them by inside a chapter or two. There’s no actual try and weave them into detailed system of world constructing. And you’ll be able to see the remnants of Tolkien attempting to duplicate that format within the opening chapters of The Lord of the Rings, as he peppers the story with unusual and comparatively unconnected adventures.

A Black Rider appeared to menace Bilbo’s nephew, Bingo Baggins — who Tolkien had shortly determined can be the brand new hero of the story — and his cousins Odo and Frodo, however they have been rescued by a pleasant farmer. Then they met some elves, and it was solely at this level that Tolkien seized on the concept that the ring had been made by the “Necromancer,” a villain vaguely alluded to within the pages of The Hobbit however who by no means truly turned concerned within the plot. The Black Riders have been searching for the ring, and Bingo’s job was to take it to Mordor and destroy it.

Frodo’s identify was nonetheless Bingo when Tolkien inserted Old Man Willow, Tom Bombadil, and the Barrow-wight into the narrative. He had not but even conceived of characters like Aragorn and Faramir, and even why the Necromancer wished the ring so badly. It was solely as he received Bingo and his cousins to Rivendell that Tolkien got here up with the origins of the Ring Quest, upgraded the Necromancer to Sauron, and realized this e book was a automobile for his goals of writing a grand and heroic romantic epic. The Hobbit, the favored youngsters’s story he’d penned, might be set after the precept occasions of The Silmarillion.

To perceive Tom Bombadil is to know that Tolkien wrote the primary seven or eight chapters of what would grow to be The Fellowship of the Ring as if it have been The Hobbit 2, a cheerful, easy sequel of journey, suspense, and delicate asides to its supposed viewers: youngsters.

Which brings me to Stan Lee

stan lee and the watchers at the end of Guardians 2

Image: Marvel Studios

Stan Lee is an actual comics creator and fictional character who has appeared in practically two dozen Marvel Cinematic Universe films. In the movies, he seems seemingly with none regard for the continuity of time, house, or the common human lifetime. In playful makes an attempt to make his appearances match with the remainder of Marvel mythology, followers have instructed that he’s an immortal, has supernatural powers, or may even be one of many fabled Watchers.

The greatest criticism that Bombadil Detractors have about him is that he doesn’t really feel coherent with the remainder of Tolkien’s mythology. Tolkien connects nearly all the parts of the early Fellowship chapters to his bigger mythology with later additions — the Barrow-wight encounter is even instrumental to Eowyn’s slaying of the Witch-King.

But there’s nothing else within the Lord of the Rings like Tom Bombadil. He has bizarre powers with out rationalization, and he’s utterly, as he and Gandalf each aver, unconcerned and unconnected with the destiny of the Ring. But that every one is sensible in case you consider Tom Bombadil as a cameo.

The trendy viewers understands that Stan Lee is an actual particular person whose accomplishments make him worthy of inclusion in each film or TV present based mostly on a Marvel property (and some that are not). He is a reference that everybody is accustomed to. And to Tolkien’s youngsters, the supposed viewers for The Hobbit, Tom Bombadil is a reference that everybody is accustomed to.

In one other manner, Tom Bombadil truly makes The Lord of the Rings extra like an actual world mythological system than not. Our understanding of historical mythology is replete with unusual additions, like Athena springing absolutely shaped from the pinnacle of Zeus, that many teachers imagine is because of these tales being adopted from different mythologies — a deific cameo. Tolkien’s favourite mythological system of all, Norse sagas, are additionally stuffed with references that we could by no means know the origins of, as a result of incomplete and in some circumstances biased textual document of residing oral traditions.

And because of this it’s totally affordable that Boyens, Jackson, and Walsh declined to incorporate Tom Bombadil of their films. The cameo didn’t make sense anymore as a result of the reference had grow to be the sort of factor you need to learn an entire biography of J.R.R. Tolkien to tease out.

So who is correct? The Bombadil haters or the Bombadil lovers? It all may come right down to how you are feeling about Stan Lee cameos.

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