Over the weekend, I rewatched The Fellowship of the Ring with Amy the Dentist, because she’s never seen it and just finished reading the book… and I’m not too proud to admit that I cried a little. I did not cry when Gandalf died or any of the times when Frodo was in mortal peril. I did not cry when Boromir died even though I have a long-standing crush on Sean Bean. No. Those would all be too normal for me. When did I cry – you ask?
Frodo and Sam have just set out towards the Inn of the Prancing Pony, and they’re in a field with a scarecrow.
Frodo is all, “Hey – what’s the matter?”
Sam’s response: “It’s just, if I take one more step, I’ll have gone farther away from home than I’ve ever been.”
Frodo is all, “Sam, we haven’t even left the Shire,” but I was all, “That’s so adorable! (tear)”
Then I may have rewound just a bit because Amy the Dentist wasn’t paying attention.
Do you know why I cried at that part? And why I cry when Sam almost kills himself and Frodo trying to save the salt? …
Because the Shire is worth saving.
The Shire is all that is good in the world. It is peace. It is good food and drink. It is innocence and community. It is home.
The Shire is the sort of thing that heroes are forged to protect… that’s why Lord of the Rings is a magnificent story. It’s about preserving everything that is worth preserving.
What does it matter to me if Sauron covers Middle Earth in a second darkness, if there was nothing there worth preserving to begin with?
I don’t like Bruce Wayne.
I don’t like Katniss Everdeen.
And I don’t like Kate Beckett.
For quite a long time now, I’ve felt like a stupid nerd because I love Clark Kent but hate the Dark Knight. Real nerds prefer the Dark Knight, because it’s lame that Superman is so powerful and often seems like he’s about to lose the fight until he just finally summons the strength to defeat the bad guy.
However, I think I get it now. What the hell is Bruce Wayne fighting for? He’s so terribly tragic that I’m not sure there’s anything good in his life. I know he hates evil, but what does he love? What does he fight for? I don’t care about the butcher of villains for its own sake. I, in fact, often feel pretty sad for villains. However, I will feel good about their destruction if – and only if – it means all that’s good in the world will be protected for a little while longer… if one more hobbit will find his Rosie and build a cute little hobbit-hole that doesn’t have any sharp angles in it.
As always, it comes back to hope. My heart rejects hopeless fiction, and there isn’t a more hopeless hero than Bruce Wayne. If he defeats all evil in this world, his life will still be terribly tragic and the world would be a terribly tragic place. However, our hobbits fight to protect something good rather than simply to eradicate something terrible. They fight with hope for the future.