Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Revealed An Epic First Teaser Feb 14. 2022. The teaser provides a peek at key settings and familiar characters, but also tees up some tantalizing mysteries.
In 2017, Amazon Originals splashed into the news when it purchased the global rights to a television adaptation of The Lord of the Rings for a cool $250 million. The modern Lord of the Rings films, directed by Peter Jackson and adapted from the beloved novels by J. R. R. Tolkien, are among the most profitable and awarded films of all time, racking up $2.9 billion at the global box office and earning 15 Oscar awards during their run. The importance of Tolkien’s novels can’t be understated; they are definitive works of fantasy about power, courage, and loss, mythopoeic masterpieces credited with launching the genre into the modern age.
In September 2019, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Amazon would film its series in New Zealand, where the Jackson films were famously shot (and where Lord of the Rings fans drive over $27 million a year in tourism). And then it was... nothing on the news front for a while. But now, Amazon has begun unveiling major pieces of the puzzle, including some curious decisions about the plot breaking from the source material, plus a swath of characters who will be featured. And finally, a short teaser aired during the Super Bowl, giving us our long-awaited first look at footage from the series. What will the series be called?
Fans were in the dark about what to call the unnamed series for years on end, but now, we finally have a title. In a video, Amazon announced that the series will be called The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. In the clip, molten metal mixes with the elements as a woman (presumably Galadriel) narrates Galadriel's familiar words from the Fellowship of the Ring prologue, saying, “Three rings for the Elven kings under the sky. Seven for the dwarf lords in their halls of stone. Nine for mortal men, doomed to die. One for the dark lord on his dark throne in the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.”
“This is a title that we imagine could live on the spine of a book next to J.R.R. Tolkien’s other classics,” said show-runners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay. “The Rings of Power unites all the major stories of Middle-earth’s Second Age: the forging of the rings, the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, the epic tale of Númenor, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. Until now, audiences have only seen on-screen the story of the One Ring—but before there was one, there were many… and we’re excited to share the epic story of them all.” What will the series be about?
An official synopsis from Amazon confirms key details about the world-spanning series, including its setting. The synopsis reads: 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 the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien's pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. 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 re-emergence 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 furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.
When Amazon released a map of Middle Earth as a teaser about the series last summer, captioned, “Welcome to the Second Age,” it revealed a pivotal plot clue. You see, the history of Middle Earth is divided into four ages. (You’re likely most familiar with the Third Age, the latter years of which see the action of The Lord of the Rings transpire.) The Second Age sees the rise and (temporary) defeat of Sauron, the big baddie from the original films. So the official synopsis's reference to "the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien's pen" all but confirms an appearance from Sauron, while the mention of Númenor suggests a storyline familiar to fans of the novels.
Fans have speculated that Amazon will tell Tolkien’s epic tale of the Fall of Númenor, given its choice to release a map that prominently features the island. During the Second Age, men with Elvish heritage settled the island of Númenor, where they became great seafarers. The Númenoreans lived in days of peace and glory until they fell under the sway of Sauron, who promised them the eternal life they coveted in the Elves in exchange for their aid in his war against the gods. As punishment, the gods transformed the formerly flat Earth into a globe. The ocean subsumed Númenor, drowning everyone on the island but Sauron. The surviving Númenoreans, who were sheltered on their ships, fled to Middle Earth, where they founded Gondor and gave rise to a long line of kings, which would one day include Aragorn.
Amazon has released a first image from the series to celebrate the wrap of filming in New Zealand. And while Vanity Fair confirmed that the image is from the show's first episode, the identity of the person pictured remains unconfirmed. Tolkien fans suspect that the city pictured is Osgiliath, seen in the Peter Jackson trilogy when Frodo and Sam pass through on their way to Mordor, after the city had long ago been reduced to rubble. Osgiliath is a solid hypothesis, given that it was built near the end of the Second Age, and once stood proud as a reflection of Numenorean splendor. The city came under threat from Sauron's forces during The War of the Last Alliance, making it a compelling setting for a series planning to unravel the rise of Sauron. Key to it all are those troublesome rings that fans of the films remember so well. “Rings for the elves, rings for dwarves, rings for men, and then the one ring Sauron used to deceive them all," show-runner Patrick McKay told Vanity Fair. "It’s the story of the creation of all those powers, where they came from, and what they did to each of those races.”
The first look image contains a major clue: two glowing trees, spotted in the distance. These trees are likely Telperion and Laurelin, also known as the Two Trees of Valinor. These trees light the known world and come to define an age called The Years of the Trees. Melkor, from who trained Sauron as his lieutenant, incites a war with the gods over his creation of the Silmarils, three jewels crafted with the light of the trees within them. The epic conflict ends with the destruction of the trees, forcing the gods to invent the sun and the moon to light the known world. This all happens way, way pre-Second Age, suggesting that the Amazon series may turn the clock back even further.
The first image from Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series Will any characters from the films reappear?
We'll be seeing a host of familiar characters. Chief among them is Sauron, whose greed, evil, and hunger for absolute power shaped the trajectory of the Second Age. In the teaser trailer, we get a glimpse at Elrond, lord of Imladris, a relative of the Númenorean kings and a chief leader in the Last Alliance between elves and men. Amazon has also confirmed the return of Galadriel, Elrond’s mother-in-law, who possessed a ring of power and had great knowledge about the nefarious dealings of Sauron. According to Vanity Fair, as the series begins, Galadriel is hunting down the last remnants of Sauron's evil collaborators, who killed her brother. The synopsis's mention of the elf capital of Lindon suggests that we can expect to visit Galadriel in her home world. If the new clip's sumptuous visuals of a port city and a woodland glade are anything to go on, we've likely already seen sneak peeks of Lindon.