Is he, like, a supreme wizard? I'm asking this because I just got done (over the past day) binge-watching all 3 parts of The Hobbit. And there's a scene in it where (forgive my lack of Middle Earth knowledge) Gandalf goes to this abandoned castle where The Necromancer is. And he kinda gets his butt kicked, until Galadriel shows up and cleans house.

Then, in the Battle of the Five Armies, he's confronted by some large creature in Dale. He muddles around trying to get his staff to glow until Al ends up accidentally catapulting himself into the monster's throat, thus saving Gandalf.

So, is there some Middle Earth canon that explains why Gandalf is one of five great wizards (him, Saruman, the brown wizard and two brothers that only get mentioned once in The Hobbit), yet seems to be rather poor at wizardry?

  • 1
    Those terrible movies aren't canon by no means.
    – Mithoron
    Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 19:13
  • 2
    @Mithoron They are every well canon for the Lord of the Rings movie franchise.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 19:16
  • 1
    The question is pretty simple; why is the guy portrayed as such a screw-up if he's supposedly one of only 5 great wizards. Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 19:59
  • 2
    From SFF:SE What are Gandalf's powers?
    – user7812
    Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 21:07
  • 3
    From SFF:SE Was Gandalf the greatest of the Istari?
    – user7812
    Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 21:10

1 Answer 1


The Istari, (better known as "Wizards" in the mortal world), are the Middle-earth counterparts of angels. They were sent by the greatest spirit, Manwë, to answer the threat of evil. In the line of succession, Olórin, (better known as Gandalf), was the third who was sent to deal with the resurgent threat of Sauron. Gandalf in particular was fearful of such a task, as he saw himself as being a weaker Wizard, comparatively speaking. However, Gandalf gained more respect and power through the ages, which was a prime example that Curumo, (Saruman), became jealous and betrayed his sacred covenant.

So, yes, to answer your question, Gandalf would appear to have been a weaker Wizard. However, his own powers grew to the point that even the most powerful Wizards would come to feel intimidated by him by the events of The Hobbit.

With regards to the canon of the films, the scene where Gandalf and Sauron encounter one another for the first time was intended to emphasize that even in his weakest form, Sauron is still beyond the powers of the most powerful beings in Middle-earth.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .