That’s Not Bilbo! Eagle Tries To Snatch Kid

Plus: a discussion on why the Eagles don't bring Bilbo et al to the Lonely Mountain.

The above video popped up on Reddit, and it reminds us that our position at the top of the food chain is a tenuous one at best. The eagle really gets that kid off the ground, but I suspect he decided the potential meal was way too heavy and let him go. It's okay to laugh because nobody was hurt (and the Good Guy Cameraman actually tried to help). The slomo replay with the Chariots of Fire theme really makes the video.

Now, on to The Hobbit, in an attempt to tie this into something hit baity: many people complain, wondering why the Eagles don't bring Bilbo and the company of dwarfs all the way to The Lonely Mountain. These are the same people who wonder why the Eagles didn't just bring Frodo to Mordor in Lord of the Rings. One answer is: It wouldn't be much of a story if they did. In fact an early attempt at adapting Lord of the Rings (led by none other than original fanboy Forrest J. Ackerman) met with Tolkien's anger when the script made the foot journey too simple by adding in more Eagles. In an angry, nitpicky letter to the producers, Tolkien said,

But would [the screenwriter] think that he had improved the effect of a film of, say, the ascent of Everest by introducing helicopters to take the climbers half way up...?

The other answer - the canon answer! - is that the Eagles are sentient beings. They aren't servants, they're helping. And they're helping as much as they're willing to help. They have no interest in The Lonely Mountain, but they're okay with lending their buddy Gandalf a hand. In Lord of the Rings using them wouldn't make much sense, as the Fellowship is trying to keep their mission a secret. And we know that Mordor's skies are guarded by Fell Beasts.

If we're going to get really geeky, Eagles aren't just sentient beings - they're avatars of the Valar, the gods of Middle-Earth. That's revealed in The Silmarillion and it means the Eagles intervene only when the gods will it. The gods wanted everybody to walk to Mordor. 

Tolkien never thought Lord of the Rings should be made into a movie, largely because he thought fantasy doesn't work as drama. And this is why: the amorphous, sometimes illogical rules of fantasy become glaring plotholes when turned into films.