Amazon’s Lord of the Rings spin-off series, The Rings of Power, has a famously enormous budget, with season one said to cost upwards of half a billion dollars alone. Well, a teaser for The Rings of Power landed over Super Bowl weekend, and yes, this show looks VERY expensive. However this turns out, the aesthetics are not going to be a problem. Twenty years later, The Lord of the Rings still looks incredibly beautiful, and Rings of Power looks every bit as lavish and lush. Good! Living up to Peter Jackson’s (original) standard is half the battle.
The other half of the battle is, of course, the story. Which is a ??? because the writers of Power have cobbled their story together from ancillary Tolkien texts like The Silmarillion, and it’s set 3,000 years before the events depicted in The Lord of the Rings. Because of elves and fantasy rules and such, some LOTR characters will be included in Power, but as their younger selves, such as Galadriel, here played by Morfydd Clark (lately of Saint Maud), and Elrond, now played by Robert Aramayo (aka Young Ned from Game of Thrones). But there are a bunch of new characters, such as the elf king Gil-galad, played by Benjamin Walker, a very good actor who deserves WAY better than the crap Hollywood has been sticking him with. Let’s hope Power works out better for him than Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter or Shimmer Lake or The Choice or whatever in the ever-loving HELL The King’s Daughter is.
Of course, we wouldn’t be talking about a beloved piece of pop culture without a controversy. You may have noticed in the trailer that there are now elves of color, such as Arondir, played by Afro-Latino actor Ismael Cruz Cordova. There is also now a Black Dwarven princess, Disa, played by Sophia Nomvete. Some people are mad! Because some people suck! Those people can get bent! That’s super cool when Arondir catches that arrow and spins it around and fires it back. That’s the kind of slick sh-t that made Legolas so popular in LOTR.
When I think of the elements that identify the world of LOTR, I think of elves doing cool stuff like that, and Hobbits singing about breakfast and friendship. And I might also think about how blindingly white the original trilogy is. And I am aware of all the, er, reasoning behind it and how “Tolkein’s elves are supposed to be extrapolations of X, Y, Z, and Black people never…” But I don’t give a sh-t. It’s a fantasy world. Tolkein was a medievalist who used European history to jump into his made-up realms, but they are just that. MADE UP REALMS. And if you’re arguing about why Black people couldn’t really exist there, you’re wasting oxygen the rest of us could use.