“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” Amazon Prime Video’s massive fantasy TV series based on the works of author J.R.R. Tolkien, made its biggest splash yet at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday, with a brand new trailer that revealed the most complete picture yet for what is in store on the show. The Comic-Con panel was moderated by “Lord of the Rings” super-fan Stephen Colbert.
Just over a week ago, Amazon released a new teaser for “The Rings of Power” that was light on story and heavy on showcasing the many realms of Middle-earth in the show. The new trailer, by contrast, lays down the central spine of the story: We first see Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) standing before a massive pile of empty helmets, signifying the losses incurred in the last great war to eradicate evil from the world. Though his name isn’t spoken in the trailer, Tolkien fans know that evil to be Morgoth — the first Dark Lord of Middle-earth and the mentor of the villain who dominates Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”: Sauron.
And indeed, Sauron looms large in the new trailer. While the people of Middle-earth are basking in a time of great peace and prosperity, we see Sauron already working to regain power as the rest of the characters contend with increasingly intense circumstances — including Galadriel swimming for her life as some kind of sea beast destroys her boat behind her.
Exactly who is playing Sauron remains a mystery, as only parts of the character’s body (mainly his menacing hands and arms) appear on screen. There are also a couple shots of an etherial, sallow-skinned man who appears to be operating on Sauron’s behalf — though, again, Tolkien fans know that Sauron is capable of altering his appearance.
There is no mistaking the creature who bellows at the very end of the trailer, however: the balrog, the monster of smoke and fire who so memorably haunts the mines of Moria — aka Khazad-dûm — in “The Fellowship of the Ring.” That story takes place thousands of years after the events of “The Rings of Power,” however, so it remains to be seen how the balrog factors into this show.
The trailer debuted during the 90-minute Comic-Con panel for “The Rings of Power,” but it was previewed for press on Thursday evening at a lavish dinner in San Diego with the show’s cast, creators, and Amazon executives. The company has long targeted Comic-Con as its launching-pad for the series en route to its global debut on Sept. 2. The stakes could not be higher for the company, which purchased the rights for the series from the Tolkien estate for an eye-popping $250 million in late 2017. The eight-episode first season reportedly cost an additional $465 million, likely making “The Rings of Power” the most expensive TV series in history.
The Comic-Con panel included a rousing musical performance from the “Rings of Power” score — as conducted by series composer Bear McCreary — that included a chorus singing in Elvish and a violinist in full rock star regalia.
Shot in New Zealand in 2020 and 2021, the series also boasts a sprawling ensemble cast of nearly 40 actors, many of whom were on hand during the Comic-Con panel. They include Clark, Robert Aramayo (Elrond), Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Míriel), Owain Arthur (Durin IV), Maxim Baldry (Isildur), Nazanin Boniadi (Bronwyn), Ismael Cruz Córdova (Arondir), Charles Edwards (Celebrimbor), Trystan Gravelle (Pharazôn), Lenny Henry (Sadoc Burrows), Ema Horvath (Eärien) Markella Kavenagh (Elanor “Nori” Brandyfoot), Simon Merrells (Trevyn), Tyroe Muhafidin (Theo), Sophia Nomvete (Disa), Lloyd Owen (Elendil), Megan Richards (Poppy Proudfellow), Dylan Smith (Largo Brandyfood), Charlie Vickers (Halbrand), Leon Wadham (Kemen), Benjamin Walker (High King Gil-galad), Daniel Weyman (the Stranger), and Sara Zwangobani (Marigold Brandyfoot).
Ian Blackburn, Beau Cassidy, Kip Chapman, Amelie Child-Villiers, Anthony Crum, Maxine Cunliffe, Will Fletcher, Thusitha Jayasundera, Joseph Mawle, Fabian McCallum, Geoff Morrell, Peter Mullan, Augustus Prew, Peter Tait and Alex Tarrant round out the cast.
They were joined by executive producers and showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, executive producer and director J.A. Bayona, directors Wayne Che Yip and Charlotte Brändström, and executive producers Lindsey Weber, Callum Greene, Belén Atienza, Justin Doble, Jason Cahill, Gennifer Hutchison, Bruce Richmond and Sharon Tal Yguado.
Season 2 of “The Rings of Power” is already in development, part of a five-season commitment by Amazon to the Tolkien estate. Watch the new trailer below.
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