Is The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power a Sequel or a Prequel?

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The first trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power dropped at this year's Super Bowl, and it looks like it might be even more epic than Peter Jackson's two trilogies! But those who aren't as deeply immersed into Tolkien's rich world as the more hardcore The Lord of the Rings fan might be wondering: Is The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power a prequel or a sequel? When along the Middle-earth timeline is it set? Let's take a look.

Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
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Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

The brand-new trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power certainly looks promising, but it raises more questions than it answers (which is exactly what a trailer should do, of course). In true The Lord of the Rings fashion, there's a wealth of characters being teased in the highly-anticipated Amazon Prime show.

Some you'll recognize, others you won't. And this is because the show doesn't take place during the timeline of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, or anywhere near them for that matter. In fact, if you have absolutely no idea, and you were to hazard a guess, you'd probably be way off the mark! So when does it take place?

First of all, check out the new trailer below:

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The trailer teases many moments from the upcoming show, which is set to debut on Amazon Prime this year. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is actually a prequel to The Lord of the Rings series of films, set thousands of years before, during the "Second Age". Both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit take place during the Third Age.

The Second Age marks a time when all the kingdoms of Middle-earth are in their glorious heydays - elves, dwarves, and men are all thriving, and there appear to be no signs of Dark Lord Sauron forging a world-ending ring (so far). In the trailer, we first see Numenor, which is the greatest kingdom in the era of the Second Age.

Related: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Showrunner Calls the Show the 'Novel Tolkien Never Wrote'

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Numenor is the kingdom of man at this moment in time, and it appears to be thriving, but its inevitable collapse is a crucial moment in the Second Age. Either way, the stunning visuals in the trailer definitely evoke feelings of the world brought to life by Peter Jackson on the silver screen all those years ago (which feels like a thousand years in its own right).

We then see two figures crossing one of Middle-earth's many epic landscapes, both of whom appear to be carrying antlers - hunters, perhaps? We're then introduced to a "Harfoot", played by Markella Kavenagh. The Harfoots are ancestors of Hobbits, who don't begin to appear until the Third Age.

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And then we see who the star of the show (or at least one of many)- Galadriel, thousands of years younger, of course, and played by Morfydd Clark. In the clip, she's climbing a tall, snowy mountain. But don't be fooled - she might be thousands of years younger, but as an elf, she's still thousands of years old at this point (though looking good for it, all the same).

Other characters in the trailer include Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), Arondir (Cruz Cordova), Bronwyn (Nazanin Boniadi), Gil-Galad (Benjamin Walker), Prince Durin IV (Owain Arthur), Princess Disa (Sophia Nomvete), Elrond (Robert Aramayo). But that barely scratches the surface. Middle-earth is teeming with all sorts of characters, and this show is no exception.

Related: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Teaser Trailer Released During Super Bowl 2022

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So, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will follow a huge number of characters - some of whom have been created especially for the show - with Galadriel being one of the leads, as they prepare to stop Dark Lord Sauron, who, as we know, has created the Ring of Power. As we know, this leads to a great war, long before The Lord of the Rings ever takes place.

With all of that said, despite the fact that The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is set thousands of years before Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, for "legal reasons", the show is actually not at all canon with those movies, which is something that will surprise and likely disappoint many fans, as both trilogies are beloved by many.

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Showrunners Patrick McKay and JD Payne have clarified that, despite their efforts to make the show visually consistent with the movies, and with it the characters, for legal reasons, the series is not a direct continuation of the films. Exactly what this means isn't entirely clear, but it sounds like, in its simplest form, the show will likely take some liberties.

However, McKay and Payne have utilized John Howe, the concept designer who worked alongside Peter Jackson for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies, so as to make the series look as much like the movies as possible. Perhaps, despite not legally being connected, the showrunners won't do anything to contradict the events of the six movies.

Related: 7 The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Character Names Revealed

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The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will premiere on Prime Video on September 2, 2022.

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Its huge cast includes Robert Aramayo (Elrond), Owain Arthur (Durin IV), Maxim Baldry (Isildur), Nazanin Boniadi (Bronwyn), Morfydd Clark (Galadriel), Ismael Cruz Cordova (Arondir), Charles Edwards (Celebrimbor), Lenny Henry (Harfoot), Markella Kavenagh (Elanor), Simon Merrells (Trevyn), Sophia Nomvete (Disa), Megan Richards (Harfoot), Charlie Vickers (Halbrand), Benjamin Walker (Gil-galad), Daniel Weyman (the Stranger).

Amazon, who now owns the television right for The Lord of the Rings, has committed to five seasons worth around $1 billion, which makes it the most expensive TV show ever made, even more so than the highly-anticipated video game-to-TV adaptation, The Last of Us. In fact, filming for the second season has already been scheduled for June/July, in the UK.

Related: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Release Date, Plot, Cast, Trailer & Everything You Need to Know