George R.R. Martin Thinks Gandalf Could Kick Dumbledore's Ass—Do You Agree?

Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Michael Gambon as Dumbledore.
Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Michael Gambon as Dumbledore.
Image: Warner Bros.

Did you know that Ian McKellen turned down the opportunity to play Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise after Richard Harris died because Harris once allegedly called McKellen a “dreadful” actor? George R.R. Martin probably knew that, and then some, this week when he took a moment at the Tolkien premiere to share some thoughts about Gandalf and Dumbledore.


During the evening’s question and answer event, Martin, Tolkien stars Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins, and director Dome Karukoski discussed the film and their personal relationships to Tolkien’s work. For his part, Martin spoke about how Tolkien’s writing helped inspire him to write the A Song of Ice and Fire Series, and made a surprisingly bold declaration about one of Tolkien’s most iconic characters.

Gandalf, Martin asserted, could kick Dumbledore’s ass, which is a belief that’s sure to spark debate within the characters’ respective fandoms. Naturally, we’re curious to hear what io9 readers think about Martin’s declaration of wizard superiority. What do you think? Is Martin on the level here?

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io9 Culture Critic and Staff Writer. Cyclops was right.


Gandalf isn’t human. He is one of the servants of the Valar, he takes human form but he’s basically a god. His physical body can be killed, but his spirit would return to Valinor and he could be sent back by the gods to do battle again. Sort of how he became Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White.

Dumbledor is human, he died from a curse. He could probably do a significant amount of damage to Gandalf and might win in a wizards’ duel, but in the end, one will sit in the Halls of Manwe the other is waiting for a train.