GUEST POST – My friend X from List of X (http://listofx.com/) has decided to tackle an age-old question: Star Wars or Lord of the Rings? This is a topic dear to my heart. Below is X’s well-considered analysis of the issue – thanks X, for wading in on the matter with your usual humour and insight!
This post was inspired by Trent’s post Hobbits Versus Lightsabers (http://trentlewin.com/2012/11/07/hobbits-vs-lightsabres/), which got me thinking about the clash of Star Wars’ evil Galactic Empire and Tolkien’s Middle Earth from Lord Of The Rings. So I have decided to apply my analytical skills to predict how exactly the war between the two famous fantasy franchises would go.
First, let’s review the strengths and weaknesses of the opponents, Galactic Empire and the planet which is home to Middle Earth. (I don’t know if Tolkien gave a name to the LOTR planet, so I’ll call it Lotria.)
So in a close combat Lotrians could have the advantage despite their primitive weapons. However, the Empire has the technology like lasers, cannons, flying ships, rockets, and those walking tank thingies that are great for stomping out rebellions. All that technology would easily prevent Lotrians from ever getting within the arrow range. Besides, their tendency to fight in densely packed groups would make it very easy for the Empire to wipe them out without having to spend that much ammunition. (Those laser rays aren’t cheap, people! You just wouldn’t believe just how much the galactic military contractors charge Empire per pound! They’re the evil ones, I tell you!).
And Middle Earthers can’t really count on their hyped-up wizards being much help, because, let’s face it, if Gandalf, Saruman, and Sauron were really that powerful, they wouldn’t need to raise armies of stick-wielding brutes to do their fighting for them in the first place. LOTR’s most powerful benevolent wizard Gandalf, unfortunately, way too often has better things to do elsewhere, instead of doing boring day-to-day chores like fighting. Saruman will likely be the first to greet Darth Vader and ask how he can help – for example, he could shave his beard to make a nice wig for the emperor who has to wear a hoodie because he’s very self-conscious about his visible bald spot, or Saruman could get a job as Count Dooku’s body double.
Finally, Sauron, supposedly the scariest and most powerful being of LOTR, hasn’t actually done that much impressive magic throughout the entire trilogy, other than looking at people from a great distance and messing with their heads, which isn’t that different from the type of magic that anyone with a Skype account can do.
On the other hand, Darth Vader and Emperor probably won’t even show up for the action, because for some reason they seem to think that catching a lone rebel fighter and engaging him in multiple protracted lighsaber duels is the most productive use of their time.
So what happens when the opponents actually meet?
Because neither side is interested in a peaceful resolution, a war inevitably breaks out. Lotrians see some initial success against the vanguard contingent of stormtroopers (or, as the Empire refers to them, “military advisers”), especially because they will have an element of surprise on their side – unlike the stormtroopers who in their shiny white armor can count on an element of surprise only when they attack someone in a public restroom. But then the Empire comes down hard and fast, bringing their latest and greatest military hardware, operated by the cutting-edge 1980’s computer technology, and with a just-developed breakthrough in war machinery that changes the future of warfare forever, namely, an inside lock on the walking tanks’ entry hatch.
As a result of their overwhelming technical superiority Empire takes over the entire Middle Earth in about a week after crushing all of the elf, human, orc, and dwarf armies, and the Emperor gives a victory speech aboard the imperial cruiser under the “Mission Accomplished” banner. However, just days later those few surviving freedom-loving elves, dwarves, and orcs begin an insurgency campaign. And considering the highly wooded and mountainous terrain of the Middle Earth, and the Lotrians’ tradition of living in those mountains and forests rather than towns – because it’s not like these towns have Wi-Fi or even working sewers anyway, they can basically wage a guerrilla campaign from the comfort of their own home.
And guerilla warfare is where the Lotria’s magic and quirks like hiding cloaks, masking spells, and fun-sized dwarf warriors really come in handy. Eventually even orcs figure out that they can use the blasters they’ve captured for more than just smashing stormtrooper helmets, so the military hardware disparity levels out quite a bit. Very soon, “Ewoks on crack” doesn’t even begin to describe what Empire’s forces encounter outside the walls of their few protected military bases. They aren’t even fully safe within the walls, because ragtag bands of Hobbits keep sneaking inside to throw garbage and various magical objects into Empire bases’ incinerators, hoping that this would somehow destroy the Empire (hey, it worked with Sauron!). The Middle Earth invasion turns into Empire’s Vietnam – while the Empire holds the bases and few towns and claims nominal domination of the entire planet, the stormtroopers only venture out for military missions to take out various #2 leaders of Elf Qaeda, or mete out random punitive carnage like the Shire massacre.
However, unlike the United States during the Vietnam era, the Empire is a brutal dictatorship with zero freedom of speech, and their mainstream mass media consists of something like Fox News circa 2002 (“Emperor is great!!!”) and the opposition media being like Fox News circa 2007 (“Emperor is kinda old, but still pretty great!”). The Empire has no problem drafting more stormtroopers; however, with their resources spread pretty thin by the rebel alliance, they have to take drastic measures. Yes, I’m talking about the Death Star.
Of course, the Empire could justify the use of Death Star by legitimately claiming that they found weapons of mass destruction hidden in caves after they encounter Balrog or Smaug. But in reality, the Empire doesn’t even have to explain anything to anyone, because, as you may recall, they already blew up the planet Alderaan to pieces solely for the heinous crime of being listed first in the Galactic Yellow Pages.
In the last ditch effort to get Middle Earth to surrender, Darth Vader claims to Frodo that he is his father (hey, it worked with Skywalker!), but his plot fails when Vader refuses to get a DNA test. Frustrated Darth Vader orders the strike, Death Star fires on Lotria, and the planet blows up. The end.
Suddenly giant eagles fly in and whisk Bilbo and Gandalf 10 seconds before the explosion, but… unfortunately they all perish anyway because eagles and hobbits apparently can’t breathe or fly in a vacuum. The END.
Somehow Gandalf survives by making a large magic air bubble around him, ends up on Tatooine, and steals the identity of Obi-Wan Kenobi who had actually retired to Florida years ago. Because there aren’t any gullible hobbits on Tatooine to do Gandalf’s dirty work, Gandalf finds Luke Skywalker and enlists him to avenge the destruction of the Middle Earth and finally bring down the Galactic Empire.