A Reaction to The Hobbit’s Tauriel: Strong but Still Not as Strong as a Man

So the Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug has been out for a couple weeks now, decease and yes, it took me this long to get to a point where I had the free time to write this. Starting TWO new jobs, around Christmas time (which is also boyfriend and dad birthday times), just kept me busy. I swear, I’m going to try and get back to posting often, like usual.

Moving on though.

Warning: the following has major spoilers for The Desolation of Smaug. Proceed with caution.

I was going to write an actual review for the movie but…I think I need to reread the book before I can do a fair review. I felt…well, I just am not sure how I feel about the movie yet. But I do feel very strongly about the character of Tauriel, and that needed to be said.

When I first heard they were adding a character, a brand new made-up character to The Hobbit movies, I was extremely skeptical. I knew they were adding Legolas in. Now, while Legolas does not actually make an appearance in The Hobbit, his father does, and he is a pivotal character in the Middle Earth world. So that didn’t bother me. But a whole brand new character? That was weird to me.

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (2013) EVANGELINE LILLY

But then I learned about Tauriel, and why she was created, and it made a lot of sense to me. The fact is, nerd is cool now. And while that irritates the hell out of my sixteen-year-old self (seriously…the teasing, the bullying…), I appreciate that girls, especially, are being introduced to fantasy and science fiction and all that. It makes me incredibly happy. And with that has come a plethora of strong, badass female characters.

Now Tolkien wrote DECADES ago, and so he only has a handful of female characters in his novels: Arwen, Eowyn, Galadriel. Galadriel has a tiny baby part in The Hobbit Part 1, but other than that…its a meat factory. Its all men. In this day and age, and with the fans that The Hobbit has garnered, it just made sense to make a female character. Tauriel, an elf living in the Mirkwood kingdom, was created.

And I’ll say this: Evangeline Lilly rocked this part. She’s a beautiful woman, seriously. I had a major crush on her while she was on Lost. So they definitely had that going for the character of Tauriel.

But they also made Tauriel SUPER badass. Seriously, I was blown away from the beginning at how awesome they made her. Like Legolas, she wields a bow and arrow and two short swords, and she rocks them. She’s quick, clever and brave as hell. She’s a perfect elf warrior, and I would find her completely intimidating in person. She’s a fighter, and an incredibly clever and loyal one, and honestly, Tauriel could have easily become a favorite for me, until…until they introduced her storyline and I felt disappointed, and cheated.

I really liked Tauriel, and the introduction of her character, especially when I learned why they did it. But when I actually watched the movie, and got her storyline…I felt incredibly cheated. Like “here you go…sort of”. I don’t understand how its possible that the directors, producers, writers, whomever, said they created Tauriel in the hopes of creating a strong female character for the female audience in a story that didn’t have one, and then give her a love story.

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Yeah, a love story. Because god forbid a female not have a love story.

They couldn’t just let Tauriel be super badass, wielding her weapons, and being a great fighter, who knew what the right thing to do was, whatever her king said. I don’t know why they felt it was necessary to introduce a love story to the movie, in the first place. The Hobbit is a full story already, and with adding the back story to the leading up to the LOTR, with the extra stories from The Silmarillion and the various appendices, there was just NO need to introduce a love story. It was unnecessary and incredibly stupid. And the fact that they gave it to the female character within five minutes of her being introduced just angered me to no end.

And okay, I love love stories. Fine. I really do. I ship pairs together, and I have my OTPs, and I have yet to write a novel that didn’t have romance in it. Hell, my novel A Little Less than Famous, is all completely a love story. I do love a good love story.

But I don’t feel like a love story was necessary in this movie. It just wasn’t. It detracted and was annoying and unnecessary. It just didn’t fit.

And here’s my thing: if you really wanted to argue for a love story, fine. If they felt like it was so “absolutely, totally, positively necessary” (so much sarcasm in my voice right there) to give Tauriel a love story, all right. Maybe I could have handled that.

But they didn’t just give her a love story. They gave her the most annoying and frustrating of love stories in the whole wide world, one that has been driven into the ground and makes me want to throw things: a love triangle. I mean, seriously? You HAD to make it so both Legolas and Kili were attracted to her, and vice versa. Why? Why?

It just makes me so incredibly frustrated and mad. I felt incredibly cheated. I felt like the filmmakers dangled this seriously badass, strong female character in my face but then were like “mmm, just kidding, she’s not THAT strong”. Because again, how dare we create a female character who is strong on her own, without any outside influences of romantic love, but just because she knows its the right thing to do. They should have made it so Tauriel chases down the Orcs because it was the right thing to do…and not alluded that she was doing it for Kili and his safety too. It just made me gag.

I feel like…Hollywood creates these strong female characters but they can’t seem to do it 100%. There is always a little bit of anti-feminism going on, just enough to show that the females are strong, but are not as strong as the males, and just enough that it won’t be noticed by most people.

Its like Carol Marcus in Star Trek Into Darkness. She is incredibly intelligent, and sneaks aboard the Enterprise because she knows something is amiss and she’s determined to figure it out. She is integral to some crazy moments in the movie. She gets the missiles open, she is an extremely strong character.

CAROL-MARCUS

And yet, they felt the need to undress her in the movie. Why? Seriously, it was completely pointless. Why couldn’t she just be the incredibly intelligent, beautiful and strong female character WITHOUT taking her clothes off?

Or Uhura, Zoe Saldana’s character in the Star Trek movies. She is also another incredibly strong female character, who is a great fighter, and is fiercely intelligent as well. And yet, while her, Spock and Kirk are heading down to the Klingon planet (an incredible danger that likely would have resulted in death had they not been saved), she feels the need to pull the whole “I’m-fine-but-not-really” stereotypical female reaction when she’s mad at her boyfriend. Seriously? Uhura is NOT like that at all; she is strong and dedicated to her job, and she’s going to do her job, whether she’s mad at Spock or not. And yet, they have her having this pissy, “female” reaction.

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Don’t get me wrong: I do think Tauriel is a very strong female character, and I liked her a lot. I liked her a lot as a character. I think she’s a great warrior and incredibly intelligent. I think we sometimes equate actual strength and fighting for strength in a female character but I also attribute strength to intelligence as well. An intelligent female character is also something that makes me happy.

 But I was incredibly disappointed in her storyline. I thought they sort of negated her purpose of being the strong female character that the movie needed by giving her a soft storyline. I know that even Evangeline Lilly was not into the idea of Tauriel having a love story, and they gave her a love triangle. Its incredibly disappointing to me.

Now, you don’t have to agree with me. I think there are plenty of people who won’t agree with me, but I do think that you should pay a little more attention to the portrayal of women in movies. Because even if you don’t necessarily agree with me, you have to admit it a little bit. Hollywood IS starting to make stronger female characters (like Katniss Everdeen…but really, we have to thank Suzanne Collins for that more than Hollywood), but if you look hard enough, you’ll see that its like “Here’s your strong character…but just not as strong as the boys”.

I hope in the last Hobbit movie that Tauriel will make a return, and in a warrior capacity more than the object of two male’s affections. She has so much potential to be an amazing character, and like I said, I honestly liked her a lot. I thought she had some incredible fight scenes and I think she could have a big impact in the third movie, as a fighter, and as the loyal, caring elf that she is.

But I really hope they phase out that love story nonsense, especially the triangle part of it. It was unnecessary, and frankly, insulting to me. I wanted to watch Evangeline kick ass, and while I did get that, I got an added storyline that had me leaving the movie theater with a sour taste in my mouth.

Take note, Hobbit filmmakers, you have a year to fix this. Don’t continue this baffling love story, especially if you’re doing it just to fill time. I want to see Smaug, and Bard, and the dwarves and Bilbo. I want to see the epic battle. That’s what matters to me.

What about you? What did you think of Tauriel? Share in the comments!  

12 thoughts on “A Reaction to The Hobbit’s Tauriel: Strong but Still Not as Strong as a Man”

  1. I liked Tauriel. To be honesty I didn’t pick up on the same things that you did, but I think you make some great points. I’m kind of a sucker for a love story…so, even though I love the action and suspense, I can’t lie that I was all “oooo sexy elf-dwarf forbidden love,” lol. But I totally get what you’re saying. I actually think about this topic (strong female characters) quite a bit, especially as they’re portrayed in novels.

    My only other thought is why a woman being “strong” now seems to always mean physically strong/bad ass. Since typically women weren’t portrayed very often as warriors, there was/is perhaps a need for them, so I’m certainly not saying it’s a bad thing. But there are other ways to be strong, you know? I’m just thinking as I type…..

    1. I agree with you about how “strong woman” seems to equal “physically strong” a lot in lit and pop culture today, and we need to see some more women who have feminine traits portrayed as strengths. I talk about it in my response post, but I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that way!

      1. I enjoyed reading both Sara’s and your posts about this. You both made some great points, but I have to say…yours was spot on for me. :) Exactly the way I’ve been feeling, but I haven’t been able to put it into words like you did, haha! I’m also glad to know I’m not alone. As women we get into this rut where qualities typically associated with a man are good and those typically associated with women/being feminine are bad, and that’s not a good direction to go in, either.

        1. Very true. I love warrior female characters, like Alanna and Kel from Tamora Pierce’s books, but I am getting sick of books (and movies) where the woman is only worthwhile if she can kick ass. I want to be able to wear a bow in my hair and put on a pretty dress and still be a feminist. I haven’t been able to get it into words before, but Tauriel really inspired me I guess :)

  2. I absolutely loved Tauriel. I disagree, however, with the idea that a character that falls in love is somehow weaker for it (this is what I picked up on out of the article, I apologize if it was not the intended message). No one seems to think less of Kili, Aragorn, Sam, or now Legolas for their love interests, so I think it would be an unfair double standard to see Arwen, Eowyn, and now Tauriel as weaker for this same reason. I am a sucker for a love story though, and I would suggest that this is was probably a large reason why she was created… to fill the love-story-void in The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings movies all had some small love story going on at the very least, so I think they were simply trying to stick with the formula that worked before.

  3. I agree with you COMPLETELY on the Star Trek scene where Carol Marcus gets undressed. It was 100% unnecessary and made me want to punch something truthfully. It was an opportunity for them to exploit a woman’s body just for the sake of doing so. Ugh.

    About Tauriel, I didn’t have a huge problem with the love triangle. It was a bit annoying that they felt they had to add that in, but in no way did it detract form her overall badassness for me. I agree with what someone said above that to detract from her character because there is a love interest is unfair. I don’t think that you have to be by yourself and alone to be a strong woman. I think that understanding how to love someone and showing compassion and protecting them also shows strong moral character. About her chasing the orcs to “save Kili,” doesn’t that show strong character too? How many female protectors do you see? How many times do we see a man in trouble and have a WOMAN rescue him? I found that to be a really great change to the normal “damsel in distress” trope. In this case it was a woman saving a man who needed her help.

  4. I like Tauriel, especially because she isn’t overly feminine in the way so often seen on the screen. She is no princess, she doesn’t dress to impress but to fight (no unnecessary cleavage and glittery puffy sleeves stuff, and so far no random undressing, as far as I remember), and she fights really well. I know that many people don’t want to see a woman dressing and behaving more masculine or ‘neutral’, but to me she’s an inspiration – when I ‘fight’, I concentrate on the game, not on looking cute/feminine/*insert random cliché word here*; and I want to be seen as one of the guys, and be treated just like them. Those who want female characters with a focus on traditionally female strengths, well, each to their liking and these characters have their value, I just prefer looking up to the badass ladies who live outside the box :)
    Love triangles are not cool, but I love her interaction with Kili (except for the moment when the healing scene goes a little overboard, so weird) and hope to see more funny/sweet moments between those two. Gonna see part three on Saturday and wear a Tauriel inspired outfit, yeah XD https://starfishskies.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/tauriel-inspired-hair-and-outfit/

    1. When I wrote that, the second movie had just released and I had felt VERY strongly about this. After seeing part three this week, I feel a lot different than I did before.

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