Middle-earth: Shadow of War has Lord of the Rings’ first ever black character

Shadow of War Baranor

Monolith are doing their best to update the Lord of the Rings universe to suit a modern audience. With Middle-earth: Shadow of War, it seems like they’re going to be a bit hit and miss.

Check out our list of upcoming PC games for more future hits. 

Recently, we found out they were making Shelob - an angry, giant spider - sexy. That’s one bit of creative freedom that we can take or leave, to be honest. That's probably a miss.

In better news, the developers are using Shadow of War as a platform to introduce the first ever black character to Lord of the Rings. Not only that, but he’s going to have an entire DLC set around him. That's a hit, baby. 

As Waypoint report, the character is called Baranor and we’ll find out all about his story in a DLC called The Desolation of Mordor. 

Monolith say adding a black character wasn’t a conscious decision, it was just “obvious.” It makes sense. I mean, there’s a lot more than just floppy-haired white dudes on our planet. 

"I'm not sure if we looked at [Baranor's creation] as a choice, but it was an easy one to make," community manager Andy Salisbury tells Waypoint. "I don't think we thought twice about it when we were writing the story and when we wrote Baranor. It was just kind of an obvious character for us to write.”

Paladins
Sign in to Commentlogin to comment
Shriven avatarKirk McKeand avatarGodEmperorTrump avatarXerkics avatarmaximnix avatarClutchy avatar+2
GodEmperorTrump Avatar
8
2 Months ago

Actually,

There are lots of black and brown skinned people in the Lord of the Rings universe. Granted, Middle Earth is meant to literally be Europe long ago. Hence the whiteness.

Southrons and Easterlings have a few mentions, loosely based on African and I believe Mongol peoples respectively. The Haradrim are modeled after middle eastern cultures and can be thought of to have similar demographic make ups of peoples of North Africa and the Arabian peninsula. Far Harad was explicitly said to be comprised of black skinned people.

Not sure if the Black Neumenorians are meant to be literally black, although I know of at least two characters from that sub-race which end up as lords in Haradrim culture.

As for Shelob being given form as a woman, well she is a direct descendant of Ungoliant who is thought to be either a force of nature that existed in Ea outside of the traditional creation... errr... path, OR a fallen Maiar. Point is she isn't "just" a huge spider.

Pretty sure in the Silmarillion it says that Ungoliant specifically chooses the form of a spider. Point being, think of Maiar as demi-gods/angels etc. The idea that they can shape shift isn't really that far fetched.

From a creative standpoint... it's a bit difficult to connect with a spider going ***SPREECCCCCCH*** ***HISSSSSSSSSS*** ***BLEGEGEGH***, so humanizing something that already has name recognition to people who have seen the movies isn't what I'd call a "creative miss".

2
Xerkics Avatar
389
2 Months ago

Yes exactly but i think the point they are making is that but he is probably like a black man of Gondor or something to make it more inclusive not an enemy haradrim working for the Dark Lord. Obviously at the time Tolkien was writing Lord of the rings he was mostly writing it from perspective of an English man of that time. All that political correctness we have now is something that he would never have thought of.

4
GodEmperorTrump Avatar
8
2 Months ago

I just hope that whatever they do makes sense. Like a story of a Southron trader or mercenary who travels to Gondor for x,y,z and then gets swept up in to the events. Or better yet a Haradrim who doesn't just follow along with the rest of his culture. The hope is that they actually make him have an interesting story, not just paint a Gondorian black as if though they're hitting quotas.

Taking a check list approach without much rhyme, reason or development to the characters is, in my opinion, a disservice if the goal is to incorporate/include. This dude getting a full DLC based around him is a good indicator that Monolith is on the better track.

4
JTP1 Avatar
14
2 Months ago

Exactly. Mass Effect: Andromeda is a shinning example of that although that is just one of many problems.

2
Shriven Avatar
3453
Shriven(15 hours played)
2 Months ago

I dont know If I should be excited for the PC version of this after Warner Bros fecking up the Arkham Knight game.

1
Kirk McKeand Avatar
292
Kirk McKeand(9 hours played)
2 Months ago

There's been some good ports though. Shadow of Mordor was good, as was Mad Max.

0
Shriven Avatar
3453
Shriven(15 hours played)
2 Months ago

Avalanche were always gonna do a good port. But, Im super aware of the stuff Warner Bros do. I shall await your (?) review.

1
Kirk McKeand Avatar
292
Kirk McKeand(9 hours played)
2 Months ago

I would like to review it, but it's not up to me!

0
maximnix Avatar
1
2 Months ago

It seems a little far-reaching to call Shelob a miss, even if they make her sexy. Heck, we have all through mythology images of alluring mermaids, sirens, etc. This is a miss? Seriously? And she's not seen as a "sexy" half spider, but fully as a woman?

1
Clutchy Avatar
166
2 Months ago

What's next? Giving she-elves The Vote?!

Anyway you slice it, this game is looking like a lot of fun. The expansion of the nemesis system looks fantastic. I'm pretty pumped for this and I didn't quite finish the first game.

1
ThaFemme Avatar
3
2 Months ago

Wow, amaze. People care.

Game looks brilliant though.

1