‘Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ Unveils Intense New Trailer at Comic-Con: Sauron, Orcs and One Angry Balrog

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“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.

“Reading [J.R.R.]Tolkien is swimming in deep water,” the late night host said to the elated crowd. Amazon spared no expense on the panel, which included wrap-around screens unveiled with a booming introduction that literally shook the walls of Hall H and no less than 25 participants who cycled through the stage in groups — and then all joined at the end for a brief Q&A with the audience.

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“We’ve never got in [to Hall H] before — and we’re scared shitless,” joked co-showrunner Patrick McKay (executive producer and showrunner J.D. Payne and executive producer Lindsey Weber). As for plot details, the executive producers were pushed ny Colbert to reveal more about this earlier time in the Tolkien mythos. “The Second Age is more of a question mark — what story are you telling us,” he asked. “How far into the darkness would you go to protect the things you care about the most,” Payne hinted.

What plot detail in particular are the developers excited to see on the screen? For McKay it’s Sauron invoking the One Ring for the first time and Payne, “the downfall of Númenor [the kingdom of men].”

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 it seems that 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,” might not be the creature in question. 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 Second Age is so enormously vast and huge that I don’t think there’s any room for the Third Age,” McKay heavily implied.

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. The composer wanted to bring the somber sounds of the dwarfs from the “Lord of the Rings” movies, when they’re a diaspora, and use the same deep tones in a celebratory fashion since they’re at the height of their power in the Second Age. Watch the video below for tidbits from that performance.

The panel also included five clips from the show that only played for the Comic-Con audience. They included:

  • The elf Elrond (Robert Aramayo) arriving in Khazad-dûm, after which his friend, Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur), challenges him to a battle of breaking stones until their bodies can no stand — while being cheered on by a gaggle of fellow dwarfs.

  • Harfoots Nori (Markella Kavenagh) and Poppy (Megan Richards) discovering The Stranger (Daniel Weyman), a mysterious man laying in a crater surrounded by fire that does not burn. (When asked by Colbert about who the Stranger is, Weyman deftly avoided giving any detailed answer.)

  • The silvan elf Aronir (Ismael Cruz Córdova), captured by a horde of orcs who must remain cloaked to avoid being burned by the sun, coordinating an escape with other fellow elves.

  • Galadriel and Elrond greeting each other in elvish, and Elrond wanting to hear of Galadriel’s journeys.

  • Galadriel and Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) arriving in the lavish island kingdom of Númenor on the ship of Elendil (Lloyd Owen) — easily the most epic sequence previewed during the panel, allowing to showcase the meticulous world-building in the show and McCreary’s soaring music.

The massive cast took over the Hall H stage and  included Clark, Aramayo, Arthur, Córdova, Kavenagh, Richards, Vickers, Weyman, Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Míriel), Maxim Baldry (Isildur), Nazanin Boniadi (Bronwyn), Charles Edwards (Celebrimbor), Trystan Gravelle (Pharazôn), Ema Horvath (Eärien), Tyroe Muhafidin (Theo), Sophia Nomvete (Disa), Lloyd Owen (Elendil), Dylan Smith (Largo Brandyfood), Leon Wadham (Kemen), Benjamin Walker (High King Gil-galad) and Sara Zwangobani (Marigold Brandyfoot).

Nomvete who plays,”the first female dwarf that we have ever seen on any screen, the first female dwarf that we’ve seen in the works of Tolkien.” Described her character, named Disa as relatable. “She’s a mother, she’s a wife… she’s a force of nature and a joy,” Nomvete described. She then regaled the audience with her gripping audition story which happened while she was but days away from the delivery date for her child. Nomvete also revealed that her costume unravels so “I could feed my child between takes… that is the power of a female dwarf!”

And yes, women dwarves will have facial hair, “I was there at 3 in the morning when they put them on!” said Weber.

The show is directed by J.A. Bayona, Wayne Che Yip and Charlotte Brändström, and executive produced by Bayona, Callum Greene, Belén Atienza, Justin Doble, Jason Cahill, Gennifer Hutchison, Bruce Richmond and Sharon Tal Yguado. Ian Blackburn, Beau Cassidy, Kip Chapman, Amelie Child-Villiers, Anthony Crum, Maxine Cunliffe, Will Fletcher, Lenny Henry, Thusitha Jayasundera, Joseph Mawle, Fabian McCallum, Simon Merrells, Geoff Morrell, Peter Mullan, Augustus Prew, Peter Tait and Alex Tarrant round out the cast.

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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