After a period of information blackout, the teaser trailer, promotional images, and details released by Amazon finally give some clarity about the upcoming The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series.
Fans of the beloved fantasy setting created by J.R.R. Tolkien were kept mostly in the dark. The big question was which of the established stories would be the focus, such as The Hobbit, The Lord of The Rings, or The Silmarillion. However, the new details, characters, and plot threads from the new Amazon show appear to be following its own continuity.
Will fans be happy about the changes and what has been revealed about The Rings of Power? Check out the details below.
Major players in Middle-earth
The casting and promo images surfaced that sets up the key roles in Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power:
- Robert Aramayo – Elrond
- Morfydd Clark – Galadriel
- Charles Edwards – Celebrimbor
- Sophia Nomvete – Disa
- Benjamin Walker – Gil-galad
- Nazanin Boniadi – Bronwyn
- Owain Arthur – Durin IV
- Maxim Baldry – Isildur
- Ismael Cruz Cordova – Arondir
Other cast members include Lenny Henry, Simon Merrelis, Markella Kavenagh, Megan Richards, Charlie Vickers, Daniel Weyman, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Ian Blackburn, Beau Cassidy, Kip Chapman, Amelie Child-Villiers, Fabian McCallum, Geoff Morrell, Tyroe Muhafidin, Peter Mullan, Lloyd Owen, Augustus Prew, Dylan Smith, Anthony Crum, Maxine Cunliffe, Peter Tait, Alex Tarrant, Leon Wadham, Sara Zwangobani, Will Fletcher, Trystan Gravelle, Ema Horvath, Thusitha Jayasundera, and Joseph Mawle.
One can ascertain, from the varied casting, that Amazon Prime’s show is emulating the previous success of Game of Thrones on HBO. It features an ensemble cast, representing the different fantasy races such as the Elven, Dwarven, and the Race of Man as established in The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. Clearly, this is going to follow the similar vein of the political intrigue and conflict between the Seven Kingdoms under the Iron Throne.
The first part of the Amazon series synopsis echoes the setting covered:
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and one of the greatest villains that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness.
As this is going to be set in the Second Age, it would be based on the Akallabêth from The Silmarillion. This was the unfinished series of essays, poetry, and short stories by J.R.R. Tolkien. Akallabêth, specifically, centered on the land of Númenor and its rise and fall at the hands of Morgoth’s former servant Sauron.
The second part of the synopsis lines up the major conflict and scope of the story:
Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared reemergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the farthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.
The Amazon Prime streaming show will be set during the Second Age when the Rings of Power were forged by Celebrimbor at the urging of Annatar (secretly Sauron). Elrond and Galadriel will be playing major roles in the establishment of Númenor, but also influencing a young Isildur which ends with The Last Alliance of Men and Elves against the forces of the Dark Lord Sauron. Effectively, this would set up the events that lead to what we have seen in the Peter Jackson movies.
Dwarven women with no beards and other alterations
It seems The Rings of Power has no scarcity of controversial reactions ever since fandom got their initial introduction to the upcoming Amazon Prime Video series.
The first looks from the teaser and the promotional images released from Amazon Prime as well as through media (such as Vanity Fair) have received mixed reactions from fans of the Tolkien works.
Some Tolkien fans have emotionally rejected the departure of Amazon Studios’ from the canon. Of particular note is the depiction of the dwarven princess not having a full beard, which is a key element in how the race of dwarves was unique. Fans have gone as far as pointing out the appendix where Tolkien states how one cannot tell the difference between the male and female dwarves.
Related to this, there is also pushback that have been vocal on social media with the representation for actors of color, particularly playing dwarves and elves. The rationale for this negativity is that Tolkien never mentioned any of the major races of Elves and Dwarves having different ethnicity and skin color among their kind.
Here's a snippet of last week's Hangout, John and Carl discussed Amazon's The Rings of Power, and why woke remakes are a deliberate form of cultural attack. We hope you can join us for the next one!https://t.co/dt1Zpu0lyd pic.twitter.com/B8ONFvg07U
— Lotuseaters.com (@lotuseaters_com) February 21, 2022
The Woke Cult enjoy trying to ruin your childhood. lol https://t.co/OYuxQFfQpD
— Daniel de la Fé, the Ordinary Idiot 🥚🐍 (@dandelafe) February 23, 2022
I can't.... This is going to be such an amazing time to be alive. pic.twitter.com/n323fIQM6p
— TheQuartering (@TheQuartering) February 23, 2022
Most of the angry reactions have claimed Amazon Prime Video has made The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power a platform for "woke" agenda. Some of these comments on social media have compared it to the Star Wars sequel trilogy with the supposed blatant disregard for canon and even predict this to be a sign of the show's inevitable failure.
Another point of negative reaction from the Tolkien fandom is that it will again be taking liberties from the source in terms of the setting and story. The chronology of events will not completely line up with the stories from Tolkien’s material. An example of this is the inclusion of the characters of Elendil and Isildur who come much later than the other characters and the show’s events.
Overall, the Amazon Prime series will be making concessions to condense the epochs. To certain groups of fans, this is as bad or worse than the changes made by Peter Jackson in The Hobbit trilogy of films in order to have enough material to stretch the story rather than being loyal to the source material.
Amazon makes it official: JOHN HOWE is the sole credited Concept Artist on the billion dollar LORD OF THE RINGS TV Series set in the Second Age. pic.twitter.com/T9JyfgkDMJ
— TheOneRing.net (@theoneringnet) October 27, 2021
This would not be surprising as Peter Jackson himself has been consulted by the showrunners. In fact, the show will be consistent with the film trilogies. According to John Howe, the conceptual designer for the series, that it would be a form of continuation and expansion of what is established in the films, adopting the look and feel that is already familiar to those who watched The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies.
Rule them all
Amazon has invested big on The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Estimates have the show’s first season budget is nearly $500 million, with a rough budget of $1 billion for a projected six seasons. The show’s second season had already been greenlit by the time the teaser trailer was shown during the 2022 Super Bowl.
However, the backlash from certain demographics of the Tolkien fandom might mean this is not a guaranteed home run. Still, showrunners Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne are banking on the majority of the fanbase will be pleased with the results. Moreover, they have dismissed the negative feedback in relation to the choice of increased female representation and roles in Middle-earth for actors of color, taking the cynicism with a grain of salt.
Will the showrunners’ confidence be rewarded? Or will the predictions of the outspoken and loud conservative members of Tolkien's fantasy world prove to be prophetic? The show is certainly taking the mythos of the Middle-earth to new directions that will affect the future of the beloved fantasy franchise.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power begins streaming on Amazon Prime Video September 2, 2022.