Face-Off: Bilbo Baggins vs. Frodo Baggins

With the extended edition of THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES hitting shelves today, Peter Jackson's Middle-Earth saga has finally come to a close. While plenty of THE LORD OF THE RINGS fans were left nonplussed by THE HOBBIT films, there is always something special about visiting the land of dwarves, elves, wizards, hobbits, men, trolls, orcs, and more. Two hobbits in particular front these trilogies, with Frodo Baggins seeking to destroy the One Ring in THE LORD OF THE RINGS and a younger version of his uncle Bilbo on a quest to steal the Arkenstone from the dragon Smaug in THE HOBBIT. Which of the Bagginses is the better halfling, though? Let's find out!

NOTE: For balance's sake, we're only looking at Bilbo in THE HOBBIT trilogy. Huge shout out to Ian Holm for being awesome, though.
Martin Freeman delivers a pitch perfect performance as Bilbo. Illustrating the titular hobbit as both frightened and courageous, amusing and somber, this is one of the rare occasions where the fan favorite to play a role actually ended up taking the part.
Elijah Wood takes us on a hell of a journey from the fun-loving hobbit in The Shire to the corrupted ringbearer standing over the fires of Mount Doom. While Wood is a fantastic Frodo, he's not quite the powerhouse Freeman is and tends to take a backseat to some of his powerful costars as a result.
To steal the Arkenstone from Erebor, the dwarven company's one-time home on the Lonely Mountain, where the dragon Smaug now slumbers.
To destroy the One Ring of power and keep it from its master Sauron, who would use its power to destroy all that is good in the world.
Fili, Kili, Oin, Gloin, Dwalin, Balin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Dori, Nori, Ori, Thorin Oakenshield, and Gandalf. The cartoonishness of some of the dwarf-centric scenes contributes a great deal to why these movies feel more immature than their predecessors. The dwarves mostly blend together, too, with only Thorin and two or three others being treated as real characters.
Sam, Merry, Pippin, Boromir, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf round out the Fellowship of the Ring. Eight characters who all play a significant part in Frodo's success. I suppose Smeagol also counts as a companion, but Gollum kind of cancels him out. There's a decent chance Frodo wouldn't have gotten into Mordor without him/them/it/whatever, though, so we'll count that as a plus.
Smaug, a Fire-drake from the North. Voiced by the great Benedict Cumberbatch, the cunning, ruthless, and terrifying Smaug is one of the most impressive CGI characters to date. Granted, he eats it pretty early in the third movie, and Bilbo isn't really responsible for his demise, but still: dragon.
Sauron, a fallen dark lord whose current incarnation manifests itself as a great lidless eye watching over the world and commanding others to do his dirty work. While Frodo is more directly responsible for destroying his adversary than his uncle, Smaug exists as a tangible creature and shares a scene with Bilbo, making him a slightly more satisfying villain.
Bilbo's wit and prowess are directly responsible for getting himself and his companions out of several binds. He keeps the trolls talking until the sun comes up and they turn to stone, out-riddles Gollum, arranges the wine barrel escape from the wood elves, survives an encounter with Smaug, gives the Arkenstone to Thranduil and Bard in an attempt to make peace with Thorin, and joins in the Battle of the Five Armies.
First things first, Frodo agrees to take the ring to Mordor; that should not be considered lightly. That said, Frodo spends a lot of time getting into trouble and being saved by others. He also, you know, doesn't destroy the Ring, but that can't weigh too heavily here, since Bilbo was never faced with that level of personal turmoil. Again, just taking the Ring as far he did is a noteworthy task for Frodo; he just needed a lot of help and luck to do so.
"I'm going on an adventure!"

"Look, I know you doubt me, I know you always have. And you're right... I often think of Bag End. I miss my books, and my armchair, and my garden. See, that's where I belong, that's home. That's why I came back... 'cause you don't have one, a home. It was taken from you. But I will help you take it back if I can."

"I did not come to steal from you, O Smaug the Unassessably Wealthy. I merely wanted to gaze upon your magnificence, to see if you really were as great as the old tales say. I did not believe them. Truly, tales and songs fall utterly short of your enormity, O Smaug the Stupendous."

"What have we done?"

"I'm not asking you to allow it, Gandalf."

"One day I'll remember. Remember everything that happened: the good, the bad, those who survived... and those that did not."
"All right. We'll put it away. We'll keep it hidden, we'll never speak of it again. No one knows it's here, do they? Do they, Gandalf?"

"I will take it! I will take the Ring to Mordor! Though... I do not know the way."

"Mordor, Gandalf, is it left or right?"

"You've left out one of the chief characters - Samwise the Brave. I want to hear more about Sam. Frodo wouldn't have got far without Sam."

"I can't recall the taste of food... nor the sound of water... nor the touch of grass. I'm... naked in the dark, with nothing, no veil... between me... and the wheel of fire..."

"The ring is mine."

"I'm glad to be with you, Samwise Gamgee, here at the end of all things."
Bilbo Baggins
While the HOBBIT trilogy didn't elicit quite as much disdain as the STAR WARS prequels, many fans were pretty let down by Peter Jackson's second visit to Middle-Earth. There's still some good stuff in the series, though, and Martin Freeman's portrayal of Bilbo Baggins sits high on that list. While there is nothing but love for Frodo, he just doesn't shine above the rest of the company the way Bilbo does. Assuming you prefer THE LORD OF THE RINGS over THE HOBBIT, are you able to look at their respective heroes objectively, or does Frodo being in your preferred trilogy mean Bilbo doesn't get a look in?

Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?

If you have a suggestion for a future Face-Off, let us know below or send me an email at [email protected].



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