It is the start of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere; which means it’s time for March Madness! This year, TheOneRing.net brings you Middle-earth March Madness 2023, Rings of Power Edition.
Looking back on Season One of the Prime Video show – and pondering what may be in store in Season Two – our 64 competitors are all characters from The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Who was your favourite amongst the Harfoots (‘Harfeet!’)? Who would win in a showdown between Prince Durin and his father? Will Elendil eventually go up against his own son? YOU decide!
How you decide, of course, is up to you. You may choose to revisit the show on Prime Video and refresh your memory of the plot lines. Perhaps your vote is based on which actors you most enjoyed in their roles; or perhaps you’ll vote according to the characters you felt remained closest to how they appear in the pages of Tolkien’s books. Or maybe you’ll just toss a coin! It’s up to you; but however you decide, now is the time to place your votes!
How does it work, you ask? Simple! Click on one of the orange division buttons below. Then click the ‘Vote Now’ option that appears above the divisional bracket. This year you get to vote in each divisional match-up in one convenient and visual interface. Note – you need to click each division to vote in their respective brackets. So let’s get voting!
The initial posters released by Amazon spawned a million questions, and then the Vanity Fair articles explained some things but spurred even more questions. Just before the teaser trailer, we released a staff “what we want to see” post, with some very specific hopes and questions; and now we find out if any of those were answered. Watch the trailer below, and then read on to see what the staff reactions were.
The world felt familiar and in line with my expectations of what Middle-earth and Númenor should look like. I felt there was visual continuity from the films. It’s difficult to tell much about the story, though there are hints, and I’m intrigued to find out more. Especially about the man in the fiery crater. Also, I’m curious what the meeting of the Elves in the golden woods was about.
Specific things I wanted to see that were shown:
Númenor. I also wanted to know what time-period it was, but of this I’m still unsure. In the last days, Ar-Pharazôn makes sacrifices to Melkor, and the skies become blackened with smoke by the unceasing fires. The skies in the trailer are blue, yet there is a tall tower that is sending out flames, yet it is not the domed tower that the Silmarillion mentions. Could this be the temple of Armenelos, indicating the later days? Or is this the port of Rómenna where the Faithful lived? My guess is Rómenna because the capital city was inland.
Khazad-dûm, I think, in the scene where Durin IV breaks the stone, but the background is out of focus, so we don’t get to see the scope of it or the West Gate.
Galadriel and Elrond. Galadriel’s fierceness and athleticism were as I expected from the hints and photos given prior to the trailer, and also in line with how Tolkien described how she acted in her youth. Though the ice wall immediately reminded me of Game of Thrones. Elrond was a surprise because he looks so angry or troubled, and I would not have imagined him having a contest of strength with Durin. What he is wearing is very cool and unexpected.
Gil-galad! His appearance is satisfying because his countenance and clothes are similar to the way he looks in the War of the Last Alliance in the film, so there is continuity.
A Hobbit–Elanor ‘Nori’ Brandyfoot. She has the look of a Hobbit, and her rustic clothes seem appropriate. I also wanted to see where the Harfoots lived, but we weren’t shown that. Nori speaks of wandering, so maybe there isn’t a settled community yet.
Weaponry. Arondir’s shooting skills seem in line with what we know of Elves from the films. Though it was too dark to make out his bow clearly, the shape, especially the ends of the bow, are similar to the Bow of the Galadhrim that Galadriel gave Legolas in the film version of FotR, and his arrows are also shaped like Legolas’, so I wasn’t taken out of Middle-earth as it was imagined by Peter Jackson and WETA. We also saw him with some kind of axe. In the battle scene, we got visuals of Elven helmets, armor and shields–gold, as in the Last Alliance in the films, but differently shaped. And we saw Galadriel’s dagger (Who else is waiting for a reproduction?) and the top of her sword slung on her back.
How people will sound. We only heard Nori, and she had a sort of Irish accent. I thought there was a hint of Elvish voices in the music, like in Howard Shore’s score for The Lord of the Rings, so I’m hopeful there will be Elvish/Dwarvish/Númenórean languages spoken at times.
Thoughts from Deej:
I liked what I saw, and it piqued my interest in seeing more, which is the whole point of a teaser trailer. I’ve seen a few responses from fans saying it looked too generic and ‘cheap’ – I could not disagree more. To me, it looked very much like the Middle-earth we’ve become accustomed to, just different locations and characters. I do hope that there are more physical sets and ‘bigatures’ (like The Lord of the Rings) and less CGI (like The Hobbit), but at this point, nothing about the show looks cheap.
From Madeye Gamgee:
My broad desires were to alleviate concern, particularly by demonstrating faithfulness to Tolkien and his source material; and to create a hunger to see more. For me, the teaser trailer was more successful in the latter area. We saw some iconic and exciting moments: our first-ever glimpse of Númenor, with Meneltarma looming in the background; Galadriel in her full Nerwen/Amazonian self (how’s that for an ironic nod to the money behind this project?); some wondrous, ax-swinging (and singing!) dwarves in their halls of stone; and some really beautiful scenic shots once again cementing the convergent glories of New Zealand as Middle-earth. There were snippets of intriguing characters that seem to have stories to tell, starting with the only words spoken in the entire teaser from young “Nori” Brandyfoot/Markella Kavenagh, alluding to “wonders in this world beyond our wandering” (a very pre-Tookish sentiment!). What is Dwarf Queen Disa singing about? Who is Silvan Elf Arondir fighting, and why is he chained? Why does Durin IV weep, and what is Elrond’s mission among the dwarves? Is that an “ice troll”? What in the world does that meteor portend, and who is this “Stranger” that may have emerged from it? This is a world that seems packed with beauty and history, danger and mystery, all waiting to be explored.
But is it true to Tolkien? We don’t know yet, and it’s unfair to expect this from a one-minute teaser that gives us flashes of 20 different scenes. We saw no rings of power. We heard no actual dialog between characters. We have seen some action but know little yet of the forces and passions that are motivating it. We have been teased. There is what could be an aroma of Middle-earth wafting in from some hidden kitchens, and the scents we’re catching seem promising. I’m happy to stick with my spot at the table as we wait for more. With Dwalin, though, I’ll toss in a hopeful, “where’s the meat?!”
WeeTanya’s 2 cents:
The Teaser Trailer’s opening focus on the large statue was probably meant to make us remember the Argonath, setting up the feeling that we were looking at something thematically familiar and different at the same time — a port city of men? Where is it? I loved that we got to immediately see the vast scope of the world, and that the city felt old and abandoned even for a place that should have been thriving. Where is everyone? Are the humans of that port city long fled? The questions started to mount in my head immediately, and I honestly felt as adventuresome as Galadriel climbing up a cliff.
I loved where the Teaser Trailer took us. We saw a bunch of Elves meeting in a place that looked a lot like Lothlorien, rife as it was with all the golden Mallorn trees (Lindon? Eregion?). We saw one very concerned elf staring up at the sky — who is that? Is it Cirdan, is it Gil-galad? Some breakdowns have already named him Gil-galad, but I am leaving room that it could be Cirdan — I’ve always wanted to see my favorite elf on screen.
The Teaser Trailer gave us a glimpse of Arondir — the way he looked and moved made me feel as if he was spiritually akin to Legolas and Tharanduil’s folk. It’s hard to imagine anyone faulting his grace (OK, I can imagine it) or likeness to other Peter Jackson-themed Sindarin elves. I hope we get to see more of his elf eyes tracking foes in the wood.
I enjoyed Galadriel’s adventures tremendously — she’s climbing the side of a mountain in the Northern Wastes, and hanging out near a waterfall that dwarfs the ones we already know (Rauros, Henneth Annun). She’s in a cave, encountering an albino … troll thing. She’s riding a battle-clad horse at the head of an army. I AM PROPERLY TEASED! I want to know more, these are adventures that probably happened between the words in the Unfinished Tales, and I want to know all about it.
Notes from Elessar:
So here we go.
As I stated I in our preview article I wanted to see the world in action. We got that. A lot of it really for a one-minute teaser trailer. What we saw looks really cool and I walked away pleased with what I saw. We didn’t get a lot of dialogue other than the narrator’s voice. So that was a bit of a bummer, but I’m sure we will get a full trailer this summer. So as someone who went in a bit reluctant, I’m pleased for now.
I wanted, first and foremost, to see Elves acting like Elves, which of course, covers many behaviors and actions, but it is the Action I was most interested in. Early in the teaser trailer, we see Arondir in the midst of a battle, arrows in the ground around him. He is seen reaching out to grab an arrow flying towards a second figure lying on the ground, turns it and let’s fly back to where it came. That sealed it, that was the Elven skill with a bow we have become accustomed to, and it made this teaser trailer for me. But then we got more of Arondir being amazing, when near the end he is seen leaping through the air with an odd looking ax in his hands, about to pounce on something or someone, all while having his ankle in chains.
My second point was wanting to see Dwarves, be it miners, builders, fighters, or anything that shows their culture and the realm of Khazad-dûm. We don’t get too much of the scope of their realm, but we do see Durin IV a couple of times. In one scene, he looks rather emotional, but the next time we see him he is splitting a mighty boulder in one blow, sending sparks out. This act is witnessed by at least three, elder looking dwarves with very long, grey beards (Gandalf would be jealous). Finally, we see Disa singing, which turns out to be how the dwarves find out where to dig, and more importantly, where not to dig, which we know they don’t always heed that warning.
There were no answers as to why Galadriel was in the ocean and needed to be pulled onto a raft, but we do see her looking pissed off when the man on the raft touches her hair to reveal her Elven ears. It would be interesting to see what happens next, does she begrudgingly tolerate it, or does she attack him?
As for my wish to see more of Lindon, we got that, with the scene of seeing Gil-galad, looking fabulous, but worried as he watches the meteor shoot through the sky. And later, we see a beautiful gathering area near the edge of a cliff where numerous Elves are meeting, for either a ceremony or a gathering to discuss important matters. Either way, Lindon looks quite lovely, with the golden leaves of white birch trees and waterfalls.
And finally, there was zero information as to why the Two Trees were the first image we saw from the production, but there were indications that there may be flashbacks into the first age, but the writers are walking a tightrope when it comes to that material. This teaser trailer did what it was supposed to, it intrigued me and left me with tons more questions about what we might see next, and that is a very encouraging thought.
Watch TORn Tuesday today at 5pm PT, 8pm ET with special guest Joanna Robinson, the author of many of the articles that announced Amazon Prime’s The Rings of Power to the world.
Amazon Studios’ “The Lord of the Rings” Second Age series has been notoriously secretive during the 18-month production, but inside info is finally trickling out of the billion dollar series thanks to anonymous Spy Reports coming out of New Zealand. We have been able to verify most of today’s report as currently accurate per sources that are involved with the Production.
Most of these Spy Reports have come to us in short form bullet points, and are shared as such below [with additional context and editorial in brackets from Staff Writer and weekly host Clifford Broadway]. Our spy hotline is still the same after 21 years and our DM’s are open on twitter & instagram! To celebrate the hard-working artists and craftspeople working with such passion way down in New Zealand we shed light on their efforts and help include them in the embrace of fan enthusiasm. As with previous intrepid filmmakers tackling a version of Tolkien; the fandom fully indulges our unbridled curiosity with an open hand while shouting support from afar—a grand tradition of an engaged fandom.
Lore, Legal Rights & the Tolkien Estate
First off, we are hearing that the Tolkien Estate is very happy with how things are progressing. Seems they really are more involved in this Production than with any previous LOTR adaptation ever [including the Bakshi version in 1978 and the six Middle-earth films from Peter Jackson; per the terms of the newest deal] and are thus enjoying the creative process. The overall plan for the show has instilled confidence in the Production and more story rights have been assigned to the show.
*CONFIRMED* for the 1st time EVER: elements & passages from “The Silmarillion” and “Unfinished Tales” are licensed by Amazon Studios for this adaptation [we broadly speculate those are sections of the book relative to Númenor and Rings of Power including full rights to stories licensed in the Appendices of “The Lord of the Rings,” which already mention Númenor and much more. Actors had posted instagram pics from Silm over the last 18 months.]
Amazon DOES have merchandising rights
Three lore experts / Tolkien scholars were on set for a time during production
Tolkien Estate is said to be very happy with how things are progressing
Men, Elves and Dwarves have their own sequestered production units for the different Free Peoples [this intriguing bit rather suggests the narrative might be constructed across wide time jumps or told from pockets of different historical viewpoints, perhaps even an anthology approach rotating characters from the various Free Peoples all reacting to the same thing, or just not cooperating with each other in Season 1: but over what timelines we still do not know].
Scripts are only digitally shared among actors and crew under draconian control mechanisms to track any persons who could access them
There is a fake production team shooting decoy footage on fake sets unrelated to the real Production – [thus making some “reports of location sightings” false leads by tricksy hobbitses and we must admit this is very clever indeed! Peter Jackson never used decoys!]
Main unit wrapped shooting in April 2021; while many actors are back in the U.K. or are now on other productions
J.A. Bayona’s episodes are a standalone entry point to the series [like a feature film]
There are more incredible directors and big stars yet to be announced
LOTR & Wheel of Time are sharing crew & directors
They are aiming for a mid-2022 release [that is only one short year away and must mean the pressure on Post Production must be remarkable]
Men, Elves, Dwarves & “Early Halflings”
Welcome to the Second Age of the Middle-earth Cinematic Universe, full of corruption, wandering, and a lack of alliances.
Some Halflings are dark skin precursors to Shire-hobbits quite possibly “one of three somewhat different breeds” maybe Harfoots; [described by Tolkien in the Prologue to LOTR ‘Concerning Hobbits’ pg. 12: “they were browner of skin,” and also “they moved westward early,” alluding to a time in their Wandering Days, or perhaps earlier when they kept no records of their journeys over the Misty Mountains westward (which may explain a little of why any early antecedents of pre-Shire migration hobbits would appear here in the Second Age instead of Third Age narrative)]
Sir Lenny Henry portrays one such early halfling [Harfoot]
Celebrimbor the ringmaker has been recast
Tom Budge was in that role
Certain creatures are referred to as Ice Trolls because they can’t be called Cave Trolls (Warner Bros. licensing restriction)
Nudity is sparse and not sexualized— contrary to earlier concerns: but rather this artistic choice represents very dark thematic material suggestive of concentration camp-type visuals of victims, a harrowing portrayal of the corruption of the Elves by dark powers to ultimately become Orcs Editors note: if this plays out fully it will may well be one of the most ambitious things undertaken by this production and perhaps by anyone attempting to adapt Tolkien
Elves will have short/ shorter hairstyles [cue the Twitter threads, both pro and con, and the voting polls, and endless constellations of lovely fan art, so please bring it fans; I’m here for it]
Sauron/Annatar will not be revealed in Season One [going with the oldest axiom of show business “Always leave them wanting more.”]
Tune into #TORnTuesday as Quickbeam breaks down all these juicy spy reports in detail. Subscribe on YouTube! We still have a long way to go until Amazon’s LOTR TV show releases, so if you hear anything drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org
Our friends at Asmus Toys just keep turning out some of the best 1:6 figures you’ve seen, of the many beloved characters from Middle-earth. We want to make you aware that there are two more figures out now that folks can order. Fans can buy the incredible-looking Elven Warrior and Elven Archer figures, and start recreating The Battle of the Last Alliance. These very detailed figures can be ordered right now, and ship from our friends at Sideshow Collectibles in the next couple of months, for $190.
Here’s what the folks from Asmus Toys have to say about these awesome figures:
“ One by one, free lands in Middle-earth fell to the power of the Ring. But there were some who resisted. A last alliance of Men and Elves marched against the armies of Mordor, and on the slopes of Mount Doom they fought for the freedom of Middle-earth.
Asmus Toys are proud to introduce the latest releases from their The Lord of the Rings 1/6th scale collectible line: Elven Warrior & Elven Archer!
From the Battle of Dagorlad, where they stood along side Elrond and Gil-galad as the forces of Sauron drew ever closer. These elite High Elven soldiers instantly wowed audiences in the First Age prologue of The Fellowship of the Ring.
The team at Asmus Toys have shown their commitment to delve deep into the world of The Lord of the Rings by giving collectors a chance to own some of the lesser known heroes of the story. This pairing perfectly accompanies the existing Elrond release and allows for so many more display options for those who desire an expanse of both main and background characters.
Both products come with brand new, beautifully crafted gold armored attire! Standing at approximately 30cm tall, with over 34 points of articulation; they also include an Elven shield and spear, long sleeved hooded chainmail and removable helmets which reveal a different head sculpt for each figure!
The ‘Elven Warrior’ carries a devastating double-handed Elven blade, which tucks away nicely into a rear worn scabbard. With an abundance of accessories, it’s hard to know which weapons to display this guy with!
What ‘Elven Archer’ would be complete without their Elven longbow? At around the same height as the archer, its length gave them the greatest shooting range, allowing them to take down enemies from afar. This accessory is accompanied by an elegant quiver and a mighty ten Elven arrows!
Sixty-four began the contest; in the end it came down to just two costumes, in TheOneRing.net’s March Madness 2021: the Battle of the Best Dressed in Middle-earth. Aragorn’s Strider garb took on Legolas’ ‘hero’ outfit – and the voting was fast and furious. Thousands of votes were placed – this final round saw the biggest turn out by far. The lead swung back and forth between the two costumes; but in the end, there could be only one. This year’s Grand Champion is…
‘We come to it at last – the great battle of our time….’ From 64 costumes at the start, we are down to the last two; which of those will be the Grand Champion of March Madness 2021, the Battle of the Best Dressed in Middle-earth? Here are the results of the Final Four:
Strider took on the Witchking. It is said that no man can kill him; but the clothing of a ranger could defeat the wraith’s robes. By a margin of only about 150 votes, it is Aragorn who strides into the final.