What do your elf eyes see?
So basically I had this theory that Thranduil wasn’t showing Thorin EVERYTHING. He only unglamored a piece of his face for a moment, we don’t know how far the scarring went. And considering he was definitely blind in his left eye from that scarring, the headcanons…grew.
If Thranduil were completely blind, it would explain why he hardly ever goes outside and has become detached from the outside world, and even, weirdly, explains movie!Legolas’s penchant for announcing everything he sees, no matter how obvious. I realized it could be a centuries-old habit, nonchalantly announcing things he sees as if that’s just a thing he does, helping his father out without embarrassing him.
And there’s that…oddness, about his gaze. The way he doesn’t blink, that slightly unfocused look even though his eyes are very wide. I began to seriously wonder if Lee Pace is actually playing him as blind.
If you go back and watch his scenes…he never seems to look directly at anything. When he shows up at the destruction of Erebor, Thorin is definitely making eye contact with HIM, but he doesn’t look directly at anyone. Then he tilts his head. Like he’s listening. And if you notice, in that scene, he doesn’t carry a bow or any arrows, despite Legolas and all the other Greenwood elves using them extensively.
Because he can’t see the targets.
He has every step of his palace memorized, and can walk through it as freely as a sighted person. But when he appears outside, it’s on a mount.
When he uses his sword, he DOESN’T LOOK AT WHAT HE’S DOING. Seriously, he just slashes while not even looking. It’s undeniably badass, but is it JUST badass?
In every single scene of his, I can’t help but think that he looks blind. Even when he senses a presence near him and says vaguely “I know you’re there,” (and Tauriel answers before Bilbo) it’s that very kind of…like he’s showing off that you can’t sneak up on him, but he doesn’t actually know who’s there, and can’t just look.
And I think he’s not just hiding disfigurement with that glamor. He’s hiding something that could be interpreted as weakness. He doesn’t want his enemies to know he can’t see them. I think he was afraid to show Thorin the full truth, but he showed him half of it, and that’s still a very vulnerable moment for him. I feel like maybe he craved forgiveness from Thorin, or at least understanding—because Thror had been his friend. And it really wasn’t that he didn’t care.
So here you have it, a bit more of his scarring, and his secret. In the next movie we may learn how close I guessed it….
Wow so this has gotten a ton of notes, and I am absolutely delighted! The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and I am awash in a sea of happiness from that. However there seem to be a few questions that crop up multiple times, and to spare any confusion (and my askbox) I’m going to post some clarifications, and links to questions I’ve already answered.
On the topic of him apparently reacting to the jewels in the extended edition of AUJ:
An alternate reading of that scene in the first part of this response, and the variation on the theory where he could potentially be legally blind and have enough vision to see a bit of something shiny with the glowing light sources in magic gems here and on the bottom of this.
On him valuing silver and white gems at all:
On his fighting abilities, both in the current canon and in the upcoming movie:
Initially addressed here, gone into in more detail in the second part of this. Honestly, this is the question I’ve gotten most, and while it’s awesome that you guys are thinking about this theory so much, and as you can see I’m happy to clarify things in any way I can, this particular question has begun to irritate me because of the ableist implications of it—basically that he can’t be disabled and also do things and have accomplishments befitting of a magical elf in a fantasy world, which he is.
Further speculation on the possible timeline:
Here! Potentially useful for fic ;) though of course other interpretations are always welcome.
On whether his scars are scars:
I can’t prove creator intent here, and any work of fiction has multiple possible readings. If you think his wounds were fake, or meant to represent fresh injuries in the past, that’s your headcanon and it’s valid. But do keep in mind that this is Hollywood CGI and is not going to perfectly represent medically accurate real-life injuries.
On incongruities with the book canon:
This is a movieverse theory. I adore the books, but am the first to admit there is no basis for this theory in them.
On incongruities with the upcoming movie:
I’ll hold off speculation there until I see it. It’s easy for things to be taken out of context. But some of the above links address issues with that too.
I may add more here if I get other common questions!
Edit 2, The Fun Stuff:
Okay so this theory is 100% free to use, modify, have fun with, make fanworks of, use in RP, etc, with or without credit to me, at your pleasure. But because I enjoy it so much and because you, dear reader, may also be craving more, I will add links to works relating to this theory (depicting Thranduil as blind or having severely impaired vision in both eyes) here. If you have a work you’d like added, please send me an ask and I’d love to do so! I can’t find them all on my own. Similarly, if I’ve linked a work of yours here and you don’t want it here, send me an ask and I will remove it promptly.
An animation showing his illusion and his scars.
Thranduil topless with full-body scarring. (full view)
A short comic of him with young Legolas.
Thranduil with his fresh injury bandaged, and after his recovery.
With young Legolas and a seeing eye dog.
Having received an unusual Christmas present from Erebor.
A page of pencil sketches.
Commanded to Stay
Posted anonymously on hobbit-kink:
Thorin/Thranduil Insecurities towards blindness/Fanboying over battle scars
Credit and thanks to the original creators. <3