An ancient evil rises in Middle Earth. The drums of war are beating. And another crack at bringing J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world to life will reveal itself very soon. Ahead of the big trailer reveal on Super Bowl Sunday, Vanity Fair published a first look at the series, giving us a hint at what we’re in store for as Amazon lights the fires on The Lord Of The Rings’ first season, The Rings Of Power.
As reported earlier, the infrastructure of Lord Of The Rings is shaping up to be one of the most expensive in TV history, costing nearly five times as much as Amazon’s other big fantasy gambit, The Wheel Of Time. All told, Vanity Fair estimates that by the time the show concludes its five-season run, it will likely cost Amazon more than a billion dollars. No sweat for Bezos, a supposed Tolkien obsessive and, also, one of the richest men in the world. It’s more of a reputational risk than a financial one.
The investment is necessary. Based mostly on Tolkien’s appendices and his history of Middle Earth, The Silmarillion—both of which Amazon bought at auction in 2017—the series takes place during the second age of the Elves, after their arrival on Middle Earth and before Sauron’s fall at the beginning of Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship Of The Ring.
Amazon’s biggest hurdle is becoming a global hit like Game Of Thrones, the obvious template for tentpole fantasy on TV. But Tolkien is not George R.R. Martin,so don’t expect any nudity in The Lord Of The Rings. Showrunner Patrick McKay explicitly said that he and partner J.D. Payne want to “make a show for everyone, for kids who are 11, 12, and 13, even though sometimes they might have to pull the blanket up over their eyes if it’s a little too scary.”
The series will only feature a handful of legacy characters from Jackson’s trilogies, including Elven royals Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Elrond (Robert Aramayo). More importantly, it’s introducing new characters, including Arondir (Ismael Cruz Córdova), Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi), and Halbrand (Charlie Vickers. Arondir, an elf, and the human Bronwyn will even engage in a little forbidden-love remix a la Aragorn and Arwen—probably because the story of Beren and Lúthien happened in the first age.
Finally, what everyone wants to know is, will there be Hobbits in this show? The answer is sort of. Hobbits weren’t really around at this point in Tolkien history, according to the showrunners, but their ancestors, the harfoots, did. Vanity Fair writes:
McKay and Payne have constructed a pastoral harfoot society that thrives on secrecy and evading detection so that they can play out a kind of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead story in the margins of the bigger quests. Two lovable, curious harfoots, played by Megan Richards and Markella Kavenagh, encounter a mysterious lost man whose origin promises to be one of the show’s most enticing enigmas.
Whether or not audiences will still show up for Middle Earth after the forgotten Hobbit trilogy remains to be seen. One thing’s for sure, both The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit film and gaming rights are now up for sale. So if you don’t like this Lord Of The Rings, it’s very possible another will be coming down the pike soon.