When Amazon cast a person of color to portray an elf, the Internet predictably went crazy.
Three episodes into 'The Rings of Power', it would seem that fans have seen enough of the main characters to make their first judgments on whether they are compelling enough. But with this particular show, the issue of diverse casting is very acute, so when somebody dislikes the character, there is a big chance that they might be accused of racism.
To be fair, the show's cast has indeed weathered a lot of racist hate online, with people demanding that Amazon ditch all POC characters, arguing that there is no place for them in John R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. The scandal was so resonant that even the OG movie trilogy cast, including Elijah Wood, Dominic Monaghan, and Billy Boyd, had to weigh in on it and emphasize that "you are all welcome here", supporting 'The Rings of Power' cast.
Among those who had to face online hate because of their skin color is Ismael Cruz Cordova, a Puerto Rican actor who portrays elf Arondir in the show. With many people being uneasy about the "elf of color", others argue that his character is simply not compelling enough, his skin color not being a problem.
"Everyone keeps saying they like him [Arondir] but never why," Reddit user anyswayze69 argued. "I feel like he could be played by anyone because he is basically no one."
Others agreed that Arondir feels "bland" and "emotionless", but elves are not exactly known for displaying a lot of emotion in the Lord of the Rings universe. If one recalls Legolas, he would sport the same face almost all the time; but Orlando Bloom's acting made it compelling enough.
With Cruz Cordova, things seem to be quite similar – at least for a certain part of the fandom.
"His personality gives me the greatest Lord of the Rings vibes out of anyone. He actually really makes me think of Legolas in the LOTR films, with his quiet, wise, pensieve and emotionally restrained behaviour and being a badass fighter, but at the same time he brings something completely new to the table. You could tell he's in love with Bronwyn from his attitude around her, it wasn't said in words. His eyes and portrayal give the impression of someone who has seen a lot of pain and sadness but he doesn't share or burden it on anyone like Galadriel does." – /MaleficentDecision34
To many people, Cruz Cordova's performance seems to be one of the best elf portrayals in the show. Such praise comes in the wake of Morfydd Clark's Galadriel being grilled for her "arrogance" and "aggression", even though many people argue that she would not face the same amount of criticism if the character was male.
'The Rings of Power' is currently streaming on Prime Video, with new episodes premiering every Friday.