Today’s Middle-earth: Shadow of War panel at San Diego Comic Con saw the debut of an all new story trailer introducing Shelob, though Middle-earth fans may not recognize her at first. The Lord of the Rings film watchers will remember Shelob in her monstrous, 8-legged form as she chased Frodo through his lair within the Ephel Duath mountains. Just as with many of the characters within The Lord of the Rings, however, Shelob has a rich past and strange powers: powers which Talion and Celebrimbor could find useful.
Up until now Warner Bros. has only hinted at the greater story of Middle-earth: Shadow of War. Obviously Talion and his symbiotic elf ghost Celebrimbor are working to dethrone the Sauron and his dark forces still, carrying over the story of the previous game. It has been revealed that Celebrimbor, through Talion, has created a new ring of power to strengthen themselves. Their increasing search for power appears to lead them to Shelob.
Shelob, in addition to being a Great Spider, also has the power of prophecy within her. She’s able to transform into human shape and show Talion glimpses of the future, or at least trick him into believing it’s the future. And while it isn’t explained in the trailer, it appears that Shelob is wearing a powerful ring of some sort, if not one of Celebrimbor’s rings of power. Obviously none of Shadow of War is canon within The Lord of the Rings, so Warner Bros. can take Shelob and the fight against Sauron in crazy directions.
Within the official Lord of the Rings lore, Shelob is nothing more than a spider. She’s a particularly nasty spider though, the most powerful of the Great Spiders in fact, and intelligent enough to make a deal with Gollum to have him bring her tasty treats. But all she really cares about is eating and Sauron allows her to feast in the Ephel Duath mountains bordering Mordor almost like a pet. Everything within this new Middle-earth: Shadow of War trailer is completely original material, from her human form to her seeming displeasure with Sauron.
Even though there’s little source material on Shelob from which to draw conclusions, there are some key moments in the trailer worth noting. It seems like Talion and not Celebrimbor is willing to trust Shelob. Further, it seems Talion mistrusts Celebrimbor especially and Shelob’s willing to toy with that mistrust. Her claim that Celebrimbor and Sauron being “one” could particularly consequential. Odds are that placing any trust in Shelob would be a mistake though.
With just the trailers that Middle-earth: Shadow of War has released up to this point, the sequel already seems to have a more compelling story than its predecessor by a huge margin. Hopefully that proves true in the full game as well, because the success of Shadow of Mordor has shown how rich the potential in Lord of the Rings is for compelling storytelling in video games.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War is planned to release on October 10 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.