Sometimes we ask ‘what if’, in idle distraction, of the works we have encountered, the things we have read, or watched (or experienced). Big questions, sometimes, demanding a certain existentialism about the work in question. So what if Harry Potter was actually sorted into Slytherin? How would his life had changed, how would his outlook have altered? Time to take a stab at hypotheticals, because why the hell not?!
What if Harry Potter was in Slytherin?
‘Not Slytherin, eh?’ said the hat in his ear. ‘You could be great, you know. It’s all here in your head and Slytherin will help you on your way to greatness, no doubt about that.’
-Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Ah yes, a pivotal moment, when Harry Potter had the chance to go to Slytherin and prove everyone wrong about them. And why not? Slytherin House was constantly spoken of to possess virtues of its own – cunning, ambition, resourcefulness – certainly worthy traits of heroes! Slytherins tend to hesitate before acting, so as to weigh all possible outcomes before deciding exactly what should be done. How differently they could have been portrayed, then! I imagine that they could have been, at best, anti-heroes, thinking pragmatically, acting according to well-laid out plans rather blind courage.
Instead, in the books and even moreso in the films, Slytherin are usually presented as nothing more than the token ‘bad guys’. Hell, I think the one likeable Slytherin was Severus Snape, and even he remained a divisive character to the very end. The only other decent Slytherin – Regulus Black (Sirius’ brother) was portrayed as evil until he came to his senses – and it’s important to note that all of that was revealed posthumously.
I know, I know, when Harry Potter came out, it was primarily for kids, and the whole open, straightforward, and wholesome Gryffindor House seemed like a much easier choice, and painting Slytherin as the bad guys just made things easier. Still, considering the darker turn the books take later in the series, I think that a heroic Slytherin would have made a nice counterpoint to everyone else, and would have made Harry an even more interesting foil to Voldemort. It would also have placed an interesting dynamic on the friendship of Ron, Hermione and Harry (which began on the train-trip to Hogwarts), and Harry struggling with the rest of the Slytherins, perhaps even influencing Draco Malfoy somehow?
And think of the setting – Slytherin House is set in the dungeon of Hogwarts Castle, located beneath the Black Lake, the common room lit with pale green light. Its very nature might have led to rather interesting tales.
We’re left to wonder, I suppose.
Famous Heroes of popular culture/mythology who might have been in Slytherin:
-Batman (though he might make a good Ravenclaw, too)
-Invincible Iron Man (Pretty obvious when you compare him to obvious Gryffindor Captain America)
–Severian, Book of the New Sun
–Elric of Melnibone, The Elric Saga
-Tyrion Lannister, A Song of Ice and Fire, along with
–Arya Stark (the rest of the Starks are definitely Gryffindors)
What if the orcs in Tolkien’s Legendarium weren’t actually evil
“The Age of Men is over. The Time of the Orc has come.“
-Gothmog, The Return of the King
The orcs of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are usually portrayed and thought of as Chaotic Evil, without question, and while it’s clear that they hate men and dwarves, are inveterate and eternal enemies of the elves, what’s less clear is whether this makes them evil. Deeper reading of the works of Tolkien’s Legendarium reveals that they aren’t evil, so much as proud and driven by a warrior society, where strength is respected. Their hatred and brutality is forced upon them by their masters – by the cruelty of Sauron and his Nazgul, and the sorcerors and brutal warlords that dominate their society.
This, actually is not so much of a ‘what if’ as much as ‘people didn’t bother to read more’. Tolkien stated that many orcs actually lived quite peacefully as merchants and farmers.
The orcs were less a simplified concept of evil and more symbolic of the changing world.
The Uruks in particular, who were allied to Saruman and Isengard became an army of industry, tearing down trees and building engines of war, making a crossover from old magic to new technology.
If you watched the film trilogy and paid attention to the few orcs and uruks who got any dialogue, you’d have noticed that they spoke with a much more modern tongue. It emphasized how uncouth they seemed when compared to the elves, but that wasn’t the point – the orcs spoke in that manner to suggest that they were the ‘new’ ousting the old – something made emphatic by the fact that the elves were leaving the continent of Middle Earth, the dwarves were scattered and tattered remains of their former glory, and that the kingdoms of men had been in decline since the downfall of Numenor (though Aragorn’s rise and continuing bloodline may keep them in power).
I think that if Tolkien had been able to work further on his Legendarium, we might have been able to see another side of the orcs when they weren’t simply at war with the rest of Middle-Earth. With the defeat of Sauron in the third age, what would become of them? Could they settle into a new era of peace, no longer ruled by fear?
We can only wonder.
What if the Imperial Stormtroopers could actually shoot?
This one’s easy. For those who watched the Clone Wars, you’d think that they just weren’t trying anymore after episode III, as prior to that, they were actually rather decent shock troops. But somewhere along the way, the transition from ‘Clone Trooper’ to ‘Imperial Stormtrooper’ saw a horrible decline in hand-eye co-ordination. I’m sure we remember the details of Order 66, when nearly every Jedi was purged. Somehow they went from that to being unable to shoot someone standing three feet in front of them. What the hell happened?!
If the Imperial Stormtroopers could actually shoot, Star Wars would have ended very very differently. Most – if not all – of the good guys would most probably be dead.
But I suppose this is the benefit of speculative fiction and canon. The room for imagination is boundless, but in the end, we always refer back to ‘what actually happened’ (whatever that means in fiction), and our what-ifs are always responses to that context – for us, we wonder about the alternatives, the other side, the other dimensions in which new scenarios might play out, new people met, new friendships made, new battles fought – there are a thousand worlds in every work!
Troll Magazine is expanding! We take a look at the Suicide Squad in our latest issue. Visit us here!