'The Rings of Power' has received a lot of criticism since its first episode release at the start of September.
Fans of the beloved 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy have been especially guarded over the fictional universe of Middle-Earth that Tolkien first wrote about in his novels. It is therefore unsurprising to find some very targeted fan hate across various channels, aimed specifically at the characters of this new Tolkien-inspired original series. But which characters are fans hating on the most, and why?
Of all the criticism the show has faced so far, the majority seems to be aimed at Galadriel, played by Morfydd Clark. Galadriel is an established character from Tolkien's books, who makes a prominent appearance within the LoTR novels. Her portrayal within this original story written for the show is a representation of the character's younger self; long before her introduction in The Fellowship of the Ring. It is because of fans' familiarity with the character they find it so difficult to accept an alternative version of Galadriel. Her calm and wise, yet powerful stoicism is the fundamental characteristic of her personality. Which is of great importance in helping Frodo and the fellowship in their quest to destroy the ring.
Her depiction within The Rings of Power is rather different. Although she still demonstrates an air of wisdom. She has little restraint and a hot head. Considerably less complaisant and much more aggressive. Galadriel is a battle-hardened warrior, whose drive is for vengeance and to defeat Sauron himself. The contrast between these two versions of the character could not be any more different. And it is because of such a dissimilarity from the original source material that fans find her character a bitter disappointment.
All of the Harfoots
Although this includes more than one character, fans have a strong dislike of the Harfoots inclusion within the show in general. The Harfoots are the ancestry of the Hobbits of the Shire. Except at this point in time, the Shire is yet to be founded, and their people are tribes of wanders, travelling from location to location. Although their representation does not stray too far from the lore, their inclusion does raise some disapproval. Partially this is due to the lack of noteworthiness Hobbits have within Middle-Earth's early history. Until Bilbo goes on his adventure in The Hobbit, little importance is notably achieved by any of the halfling race to influence the development of Middle-Earth. And yet they are clearly a prominent part of the story, which will likely affect events heavily going forward.
Another point of distress is the appearance of the Harfoot characters. Some have raised questionable doubts as to why some parts are played by black actors. Most notably is the character of Sadoc Burrows, as portrayed by British comedian/actor Lenny Henry. One Reddit user commented on the character's appearance, asking 'why is one of the Hobbits made to look like Don King?'. Other questionable choices of the Harfoot's appearance include their 'unclean' and 'simpleton looking' resemblance. Plus the use of some rather contentious 'stage-Irish' accents. Which some have taken as potentially offensive.
Another character that received criticism again partially because of their skin color is Disa, the Dwarven Princess played by Sophia Nomvete. As you can imagine quarrels over the portrayal of a character concerning the ethnicity of an actor comes with much controversy. The actors and producers of 'The Rings of Power' state that the inclusion of actors from a mixture of backgrounds and races is appropriate for the mass representation of these characters. However, some fans see things very differently. It is well known that Tolkien based his works and the people of Middle-Earth on familiar and authentic surroundings. Much of the Shire was an imagined version of his home in Oxfordshire. Therefore his descriptions of characters and their features in his books are often specific and vast in detail. To the fans, Disa does not fit the descriptions that Tolkien conveyed about Dwarves. And the representation of Disa by a black actor is illogical for the story.
Debates over skin color set aside, another representation has fans even more infuriated over her appearance. There are a number of references within the original source material which mention women dwarves having beards alike the men. It was an immediate source of dispute when Disa was introduced beardless into the series. Strict LoTR enthusiasts call this a disregard and disrespect of Tolkien's works. While others probably couldn't care less. What is clear is that for a character yet to only briefly appear in the series at all, she has already created a lot of contention among fans.
Again facing similar criticism for his appearance is Arondir. Played by Ismael Cruz Córdova, Arondir is an elvish soldier stationed within the Southlands to watch over the inhabitants of mankind. An original character, his name or mention does not appear in any of Tolkien's original works. This may have been why the producers of the show decided to make his character's look seem more unconventional than other elves depicted in the series. Arondir is the only black elf to appear in the show so far. To points similar to what has been mentioned previously about Disa, die-hard fans find this a misrepresentation of the race described at length in the books.
More so, Arondir sports a rather contemporary hairstyle. As seems apparent, most elves depicted have long and flowing hair. Arondir's short hairdo may be a reference to his more favorable attitude to humans than the other elves. He has an evident attraction to Bronwyn, the human healer from the village. It may also be a style imitative of military buzz cuts. A hairstyle that was popularised by the French Foreign Legion in the 1800s. Either way, it is a style that has not won everyone's approval.
Any character who is uninteresting
Again this is not strictly one character, but it is a point that has been raised frequently by fans about the show. Many of the characters both main and secondary have received disapproval as being written as boring or uninteresting. The dialogue, in particular, has received criticism for being unimaginative and bland sounding. Making many of the characters less likeable or relatable in particular scenes.
Others have commented on much of the style as being forced or 'over-fantasised'. Meaning the aesthetic of the show appears more 'generic fantasy' instead of a unique and original style, based on the LoTR universe. For example, costumes worn by the elves and harfoots have been questioned as unpractical. Either looking poorly designed or overly manufactured, breaking the immersion of the story the series is meant to be depicting. A similar thing has been said about the special effects used throughout the show. Creating a barrier for the audience to feel immersed within the world, and instead looking obvious, fake and unnecessary. These shortcoming has meant some fans have turned away from the show almost immediately. Citing these failings as too much of a distraction to keep their interest in the show.
Overall The Rings of Power is clearly facing some fairly prominent backlash from its fans. However, not all feel as equally about some of the series' decisions. Those that are less familiar with Middle-Earth backstory and lore, feel considerably less strongly about some of the specific inconsistencies raised by Tolkien fans. And others who are fans of both, are simply happy to welcome more LoTR narratives in whatever form they may take. If The Rings of Power is a marmite production, then there will be fans who both enjoy the creative decisions and changes the show has made, and others who will ultimately despise them. For the series to continue to succeed in its viewership, it will have to make the most of the choices it has made for its characters. And maybe in some cases, work hard to improve those characters altogether.