The release and news arrived yesterday that Billy Connolly will play Dain II Ironfoot in the two forthcoming Hobbit movies, directed by Peter Jackson, and with that, all the pieces of the films are in place.

Here in the underground labyrinth that serves as TORn’s offices (with doors leading to L.A., Atlanta, Kenosha and Wellington among other places) a big sigh of relief could audibly heard. Dain II Ironfoot will be included; a talented actor, somebody who already looks like a Middle-earth dwarf, and is a skilled performer will be handling the role. Awesome.

We have full confidence in Connolly — who is best known for his comedy — in what might be inspired casting. His credibility comes from small, dramatic roles (The Last Samurai) which he handles just fine but more from independent films, playing larger parts and lead roles, giving him a lot of experience in front of the camera. General audiences may only think of comedy (and there may be plenty of that in The Hobbit anyway) but they should recognize his considerable talent.

Much more central the sigh of relief was the clarity that the Dain character is in. The complete absence of this important dwarven hero from news or casting announcement was a genuine concern among those trying to piece everything together. It was a glaring omission.

Speculation ranged from him being either a very minor character or being played by a minor actor that didn’t need an introduction for a non-speaking role.

Those who don’t recall, or haven’t read the source material, may not realize how important Dain was not only to events in The Hobbit but just off screen in the Lord of the Rings and the War of the Ring, as detailed in Appendix A. He played a key role in the history of the dwarves at least three times according to Tolkien’s writings and is, without doubt, one of the greatest dwarves who ever lived. (You can visit the details on our Dain character page in our FAQ section.)

From a purely cinematic standpoint, we just hope we get to see the Weta-designed red ax that he is famous for. Thinking solely about The Hobbit: There and Back Again due in December 2013, Dain’s inclusion gives us assurances that the lead up and execution of The Battle of Five Armies will include hoards of dwarves coming from the Iron Hills — an event in Middle-earth that we haven’t seen before from Peter Jackson. Previously we only glimpsed Gimli but now we will see a dwarf army in all its military might.

He also was key to a pre-Hobbit battle where, at a tender age, he faces Azog, the killer of his own father and the killer and desecrator of Thorin’s forefather. There are some around here hoping fervently that Jackson finds a way to get a good deal of that on film.

Dain was probably announced last because the production that is taking place in New Zealand is heading into its last stretch of filming that will last several months and, obviously will include now include Dain and is believed to be much of the content for the second film, including much of climatic showdown.