First looks at Prime Video series ‘Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ revealed

Series executive producer addressed criticism over casting actors of color in J.R.R. Tolkien saga.

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Lord of the Rings is one of the most beloved series in American popular cultire. From popular books to a massive film franchise, J. R. R. Tolkien’s world of hobbits, wizards, and dragons are coming to Prime Video’s Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Sept. 2.

Amazon unveiled the first look images and character names this week with a feature in Vanity Fair.

Amazon also released character names and posters on Thursday that reveal this installment of the beloved series will feature a lot more melanin than fans are used to.

Lord of the Rings
(Credit: Amazon Studios)
Lord of the Rings
(Credit: Amazon Studios)

The Rings on Power is set during a period called The Second Age. A major mystery the series will deal with will be Sauron’s disappearance, following the death of his master Dark Lord Morgoth.

The series will center around the characters of Galadriel, who will hunt down Morgoth’s remaining minions, still angry with her brother’s death. 

Morfydd Clark will play Galadriel, who was portrayed in the films by Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett. She will be paired with Halbrand, a new character played by Charlie Vickers.

Other Tolkien characters slated to be part of The Rings of Power are the elf Celembrimbor (Charles Edwards), the young version of the Númenórean Isildur (Maxim Baldry), who goes on to eventually defeat Sauron later in the lore of Tolkien’s saga. 

The Rings of Power have cast Sophia Nomvete as a new character, a dwarven princess named Disa. Included will be Ismael Cruz Cordova, who portrays Arondir, a Silvan Elf.

The inclusions of both Nomvete and Cordova are groundbreaking because people of color were not present in any of Peter Jackson’s two-film trilogies: The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. The issue of racial inclusion has spurned backlash for the Rings of Power series.

Shortly after the images hit the streets, some racist fans have spoken out against the diverse casting decisions.  

One user, @babyface_dadbod, wrote that Lord of the Rings already had numerous races, referring to elves and hobbits, but that “integrating PoC into established Anglo-Saxon/Western European-inspired cultures/races makes no sense to the lore and does no justice to Tolkien.” Another user, @eltbib, wrote, “Cultural appropriation much?”

The comments on Twitter were no better, resembling the backlash of John Boyega being cast as a stormtrooper in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Users were arguing over Tolkien’s intent, with one @RealRyanMickens replying, “let’s remake The Color Purple and fill it with a middle eastern cast and make the slave owners Russian. Just ‘for diversity sake’.”

Lindsey Weber, the series’ executive producer, addressed the criticism of using actors of color in The Rings of Power in an interview with Vanity Fair.

“It felt only natural to us that an adaptation of [author J.R.R.] Tolkien’s work would reflect what the world actually looks like,” Weber said.  “Tolkien is for everyone. His stories are about his fictional races doing their best work when they leave the isolation of their own cultures and come together.”

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