With a single book stretched into three films, Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Hobbit embellishes many details from JRR Tolkien’s original novel. One such embellishment is the battle between stone giants during a thunderstorm, as the Company of Thorin Oakenshield tries to avoid their destruction. However, this scene harbors a big point of contention within the fan base, as many are unsure if the stone giants are accurate or not.
As Bilbo and the Dwarves cross the Misty Mountains for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, they fight against a storm that nearly knocks them off their feet. Amidst the downpour, a solid stone figure appears, measuring thousands of feet tall. He throws chunks of mountains at another giant, the dwarf Balin shouting, “It’s not a thunderstorm. It’s a battle of thunder!” And for something that’s only present for a brief scene, it’s one of the biggest fights of any Middle-earth movie.
As for the accuracy of the scene in Tolkien’s novel, this is where things get tricky. As the company travels through the fourth chapter, it mentions Bilbo waking up one night, reading: “There they took shelter under a hanging rock for the night, and he lay under a blanket and trembled from head to toe When he peeked into the flash he saw that on the other side of the valley the stone giants had come out and were throwing stones at each other for a game, catching them and throwing them. in the dark where they shattered among the trees below, or shattered into little pieces with a bang.”
Sadly, that’s all that’s ever been mentioned about the stone giants, and at first glance it looks like Bilbo sees them playing and moves on. While it’s obvious that Peter Jackson has emphasized the scene for dramatic effect, one wonders if giants even exist. In all of Tolkien’s stories and lore of Middle-earth, giants are never mentioned again, especially those made of stone. And so, many fans theorize that the Stone Giants are actually something entirely different.
While massive creatures like dragons and Balrogs exist, the typical fantastical giant is nowhere to be found in Tolkien’s writings. The species closest to a giant are the Ents, as they are humanoid beings that are tall and as sentient as any man. But as to a type of stone Ent, no details were ever given. And if they were to exist, they certainly wouldn’t have been as prominent as Jackson’s adaptations.
But if the stone giants don’t exist, it raises questions as to what Bilbo really saw. Some theorize the description is a metaphor of lightning striking mountains and large chunks of rock falling to the ground. Others believe it is part of Bilbo’s imagination in the rain, or that he was actually watching trolls in the distance. But in the end, they are mentioned so vaguely that it is difficult to find a definitive answer.
When Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, it was not originally intended to be part of his Middle-earth mythos. But when writing The Lord of the Rings, he went back and adapted the novel to fit better with Middle-earth by changing a few lines here and there. It’s possible that stone giants were an oversight he didn’t think of, or it’s entirely possible that stone giants do exist, and they’re just an incredibly rare species in the vast world that he created.