The recently released trailer for the upcoming Prime Video series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power lit a bit of a fire under me and I’ve been on the hunt for any information I could find on the upcoming series. I was surprised to find quite a few question marks and blank spots that caused my expectations for the series to go on a bit of a rollercoaster ride.
Who’s Running The Show?
Series co-creators Patrick McKay & John D. Payne have a weird resume. Looking at their IMDb pages to get a little context as to what we might expect, you’d probably come away with just more questions. They have no credits for writing or producing aside from doing uncredited work on Justin Lin’s Star Trek: Beyond.
Looking a bit deeper, the two have basically thrived for the last 10 or so years on unproduced and uncredited work. They did drafts/uncredited work for Jungle Cruise, Flash Gordon, Godzilla vs. Kong, and a ton more. It seems like these guys have been writing nonstop since they started and have enough talent and respect to out-pitch a bunch of other potential candidates for this very series.
Taking control of a series this high profile feels like a huge leap, but realistically these two have curated a lot of respect and love in the industry and I’m really excited to see what their work finally come to fruition.
The Cast Doesn’t Stand Out…Yet
The cast of the show might lack that big flashy name like Ian McKellen, but that doesn’t mean all doom and gloom. At one point, they were going after Will Poulter for a role, but it looks like he was poached by Marvel Studios for their upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Top listed on IMDb is Cynthia Addai-Robinson, who some of you might remember as Amanda Waller on Arrow. But even if none of the names are eye-catchers, there’s still a lot of potential talent here. Looking back at the cast of the original trilogy, a lot of them hadn’t hit their big break until that huge stage that was Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. This could do the same and launch the careers of loads of undiscovered stars just waiting to be found.
Story? Or Lack Thereof?
So what’s the draw for this whole thing? Beyond the promise of the return to Middle Earth, and potentially seeing the kingdoms in their golden ages, what’s the reason that people will tune in?
The story promises a broad stroke that will cover events from all over the Second age. Including (but not limited to) the forging of the rings, the rise of Sauron, the tale of Númenor, and the last alliance of Elves and men. If you want to dive further into what these story beats could bring, check out Brian’s breakdown of some of these events in his article. But the important thing about the choice of setting is that they are leaving themselves lots of room to work.
The events that the show is set to go over have only been covered in short flashbacks in the films and in a little bit of writing in Tolkien’s Appendix in The Lord of the Rings and a few other small bits and pieces. McKay and Payne will have all of these events laid out across the Second Age and tons of room in between them to fill in their own story.
Even Peter Jackson had the full writing of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit to work with, but both sagas worked to varying degrees. The fact that McKay and Payne have free reign could work to their advantage, or possibly to their detriment. Tolkien is a legendary writer and The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit is a bar standard for some of the best writing and world-building ever, so they may suffer from high expectations while working from their own pens.
The Lord of the Expectations
There are a lot of question marks surrounding this series. Obviously throwing the title The Lord of the Rings in front of something is going to create some huge expectations. Still, the writers may take advantage of the freedoms they have and craft their own original story within the barriers of the larger world. Hopefully, it’s a hit, but we’ll have to wait and see.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premieres on Prime Video on September 2nd, 2022. What do you think of the cast and crew that’s been assembled for the series? Can they live up to the hype of the monstrous franchise? Or will the series fall short and make us all wish the series was left in the past? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter @mycosmiccircus!