In Battle of the Five Armies there is a scene of the Orcs summoning the "earth eaters" and then a while later the were worms bust out of the Earth. I was kind of excited to see what kind of havoc these creatures would wreak. But then they don't show up again. What was the point of the were-worms in the movie?

If you don't tell me now I will never find out because I am not watching the Hobbit movies ever again!

  • 24
    +1 for "If you don't tell me now I will never find out because I am not watching the Hobbit movies ever again". I thought I was in a minority of one! I loved the LotR movies, despised the Hobbit Movies! May 25 '15 at 14:19
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    @BinaryWorrier I just hate so many things about the Hobbit film adaptation: it had very little heart (I don't remember feeling much of anything during these movies); it added way too much stuff; it was far far too long (at ~8 hours total it would take less time to read the book, and be more worth your time).
    – zipquincy
    May 25 '15 at 14:49
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    @zipquincy: I adore the book, and have done since I read it aged 10 (that's 35 years ago, gulp). I have never been more disappointed with a movie adaptation. Jackson didn't so much translated the Hobbit for cinema, he made 3 massive epic movies as prequils to the LotR movies, and the book got lost in the noise. I'd love to see a movie (possibly one) which captured the tone, the spirit and the story properly. God knows Jackson didn't do that (and again, I'm a Jackson fan, loved LotR, King Kong, Beautiful Creatures, Lovely Bones etc) May 25 '15 at 14:55
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    I liked the scene in Bilbo's house at the beginning.
    – Mr Lister
    May 25 '15 at 17:33
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    They are Nidus worms from Starcraft 2, which are meant to transport units into an enemy base, which is what they did, they don't cause havoc directly.
    – Maxim
    May 25 '15 at 18:02

They were referenced only as mythical creatures in the books, so all we have to go by is what happened in the movie.

Most likely, the were-worms were only useful (for whatever reason) for digging the tunnels the Orcs were traveling through, and could not be used in battle - perhaps they simply aren't trained well enough to fight, maybe hate noise and being outside, maybe they are really easy to kill, we don't know. All we know is that after the Orcs used them to dig the tunnels, they were apparently done with them.

Transporting your troops through new, secret tunnels does definitely offer a huge advantage - it's not like they were worthless.

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    I must have went to the bathroom when the Orcs came out of the tunnels.
    – zipquincy
    May 25 '15 at 14:46
  • @zipquincy; Good choice!
    – JohnHunt
    Nov 18 '21 at 19:19

Tell me what you want done, and I will try it, if I have to walk from here to the East of East and fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert.


Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Sauron knows them not; they are older than he.

These two quotes, from Bilbo in the first chapter of The Hobbit and Gandalf in the chapter called "The White Rider" in The Two Towers, represent everything we know about the film portrayal of these strange creatures. Whether Tolkien intended both these quotes to represent the same beings is unknown, but the appearance of them in the Battle of the Five Armies film was unexpected to say the least. Their main purpose was to create tunnels to hide the approaching forces of Sauron until the last possible moment. I think it was nothing more than a shout-out to the fans of the books, but I enjoyed their presence nonetheless.

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    Source for the second quote having anything to do with the were-worms?
    – Lexible
    Nov 18 '21 at 16:39
  • @Lexible I think "Sauron knows them not" already speaks for itself. In the movies, Sauron explicitly commands the orc army from behind the scenes... it's pretty unlikely that he doesn't know about one of its main strategic assets.
    – Annatar
    Nov 19 '21 at 10:35

They bring the Orc armies to the battlefield quickly and unseen, and Peter Jackson thought they sounded cool.

Peter Jackson: And of course, what happens at this point, but the secret weapon of the Orcs appears, the tunneling machines of the Orc-world.
Philippa Boyens: The "Were-worms of the Last Desert"
Peter Jackson: The Were-worms appear because what we had to do was to arrive an entire Orc army onto this battlefield very very quickly without our heros looking stupid. Now, having just seen Dain's army coming up over the ridge and arriving to surprise the elves, we can't do that twice, we can't have look at the other ridge and here's another army coming to surprise everyone. You can't do things twice. So we just simply had a situation on our hands where we had to figure out some imaginative or inventive or stupid way of getting the Orc army onto this battlefield really fast.
Philippa Boyens: Arriving unseen
Peter Jackson: And so that was the way we choose to do it. I mean we could have had them parachuting off of bats or something.
Philippa Boyens: Well they do burst forth from under the ground. That's in the book.
Peter Jackson: Well yeah.
Philippa Boyens: You just wanted to do giant Were-worms.
Peter Jackson: Well, yes, I did, yes.
Philippa Boyens: As soon as you knew they existed.
Peter Jackson: Well yeah, no, as soon as you mentioned Were-worms, I thought good were having some of those thank you. We'll have about six of them please. Thank you.
Philippa Boyens: And it also, Bilbo talks about possibly seeing the great Were-worms of the last desert in the book. That was a nice way to actually do it.
The Battle of the Five Armies - Director's Commentary [1:17:32-1:18:58]

The lines Philippa Boyens refers to from the book are these:

As soon as I saw your funny faces on the door-step, I had my doubts. But treat it as the right one. Tell me what you want done, and I will try it, if I have to walk from here to the East of East and fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert.
The Hobbit - Chapter 1 - "An Unexpected Party"

Tidings they had gathered in secret ways; and in all the mountains there was a forging and an arming. Then they marched and gathered by hill and valley, going ever by tunnel or under dark, until around and beneath the great mountain Gundabad of the North, where was their capital, a vast host was assembled ready to sweep down in time of storm unawares upon the South.
The Hobbit - Chapter 17 - "The Clouds Burst"

(Fun fact: In the original manuscript the line actually went "if I have to walk from here to the last desert in the East and fight the Wild Wireworms of the Chinese.")

  • Funny how the tunnels were arguably only used in the book to get to Gundabad, and not all the way to Erebor.... Nov 17 '21 at 23:21

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