Early images of the dwarf characters in Peter Jackson’s two-part adaptation of The Hobbit have varied (slightly) in shape and size, ranging from the almost elf-ish Kili (Aidan Turner) to the Santa Claus-like Balin (Ken Stott).

Now an image of Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, a mighty and fearless dwarf warrior, has been unveiled – and his appearance is likewise noticeably different than his peers, including Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) from Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Armitage has a long history as a TV actor, with a resume that includes recurring stints on series like MI-5 and Robin Hood, as well as a well-regarded mini-series adaptation of North & South. U.S. moviegoers will be familiar with the man once they see Captain America, which features Armitage as the villainous Heinz Kruger.

Here is an official description of Thorin Oakenshield, followed by the full image of the character (via TheOneRing.net):

As a young Dwarf prince, Thorin witnessed the destruction and terror wrought when a great fire-breathing Dragon attacked the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. After slaughtering many of Thorin’s kin, the great serpent, Smaug, entered The Lonely Mountain and took possession of its vast store of gold and jewels. No-one came to the aid of the surviving Dwarves, and thus, a once proud and noble race was forced into exile. Through long years of hardship, Thorin grew to be a strong and fearless fighter and revered leader. In his heart, a fierce desire grew; a desire to reclaim his homeland and destroy the beast that had brought such misery upon his people. So when fate offers him an unusual ally, he seizes the chance for revenge.

Jackson’s Hobbit movies will (among other things) explore the rich history of dwarf culture, which will allow audiences to see a side of Middle-Earth only briefly glimpsed onscreen in the Rings trilogy. Judging by the costumes and weaponry boasted by the Hobbit dwarf characters shown so far, that sounds like an appealing prospect.

The variation in appearances and personality between the various Hobbit characters will also allow Jackson’s new adaptation(s) to be a bit more humorous and light-hearted an adventure than the Rings movies. It’s all the more fitting, given the difference in scale and tone between the respective source material by J.R.R. Tolkien.

In case you missed the others, here’s a full rundown of characters who join Thorin on his quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the villainous dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch):

We could add Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) to that list, though, as the ancient wizard told Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) in Fellowship of the Ring, all he really did was give young Bilbo “a little nudge out of the door.” 😉

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hits U.S. theaters on December 14th, 2012.

The Hobbit: There and Back Again arrives in theaters a year later on December 13th, 2013.

Source: TheOneRing.net