Amazon Studios teases ‘Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ series

The series' executive producer recently addressed criticism over casting actors of color in the J.R.R. Tolkien saga

Amazon Studios has shared a teaser for its upcoming J. R. R. Tolkien adaptation, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which adds some new faces to the familiar world of hobbits, wizards, and dragons adored by fans worldwide.

Ahead of the series’ release on Prime Video Sept. 2, the minute-long teaser, issued Sunday during the third quarter of Super Bowl LVI, offers a first look at scenes from the beloved franchise’s newest addition, which showrunners have said will broaden perceptions of who resides on Middle-earth.

In the new series, set 1,000 years before the The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, fans will see younger versions of classic characters such as Elrond, a Half-Elf portrayed by Robert Aramayo, seen in the new teaser appearing to brave the treacherous ascent of an icy cliff.

The Rings of Power will also see new characters added to the mix, including the Silvan Elf Arondir, played by Puerto Rican actor Ismael Cruz Cordova, who is shown in the teaser mid-combat, catching an opponent’s arrow and placing it in his own bow before firing it back.

Amazon has also cast Sophia Nomvete to portray a new addition to the Tolkien universe, a dwarven princess named Disa who also briefly appears in the newly released teaser. Nomvete is the first Black actress to portray a dwarven character in the Lord of the Rings canon.

The inclusions of both Nomvete and Cordova are groundbreaking, as there were no people of color present in any of Peter Jackson’s previous two-film trilogies. 

Lindsey Weber, the series’ executive producer, spoke with Vanity Fair to address the additions of actors of color in The Rings of Power, a decision which has been met with backlash from some fans.

“It felt only natural to us that an adaptation of 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.”

When Prime Video unveiled the first look images and character names earlier in February, revealing that this installment of the series will feature a lot more melanin than fans are used to, a number of internet trolls spoke out against the diverse casting decisions.  

As previously reported by theGrio, 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?”

In response to the wave of criticism, Tolkien scholar Mariana Rios Maldonado told Vanity Fair: “Obviously there was going to be push and backlash, but the question is from whom? Who are these people that feel so threatened or disgusted by the idea that an elf is Black or Latino or Asian?”

Still image from The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (via Prime Video)

Additional actors of color to join the series include British-Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi, who will be portraying the human character Bronwyn, and Black actor Sir Lennny Henry, who will portray aHarfoot,” ancestors to the Hobbits.

Black actresses Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Maxine Cunliffe and Sara Zwangobani are also listed as appearing in all eight episodes of the upcoming series, according to IMDB. Their character names have not yet been released.

The show will be released in more than 240 countries, with new episodes coming out weekly.

theGrio’s Matthew Allen contributed to this report.

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