Since “The Rings of Power” debuted on Prime Video on Sept. 2, fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world have criticized some of the show’s modern adaptations to the Second Age-set universe.
Many of the online complaints are the same topics that the series writers and producers have debated behind the scenes. With that being said, showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay are aware of what naysayers have been complaining about and decided to respond to five of the most repetitive remarks via The Hollywood Reporter.
Fan complaint #1: Beardless dwarf wives
Payne says that the wives “actually do” have beards and they opted for various “versions of what facial hair on dwarf women might look like.” McKay adds, “Tolkien himself has answered this particular question both ways. There’s a very strong argument to be made that dwarf women should have beards, and a very strong argument to be made that they don’t. We’re happy with where we landed.”
Fan complaint #2: Elves with shaved heads? What! Why?
Payne defends the choice saying Tolkien never wrote a “comprehensive style guide to hairstyles in Middle Earth”. McKay explains, “Part of this show is to go deeper and broader into each of these races and cultures.”
Fan complaint #3: Galadriel’s “masculine” act and her trip to Númenor
Payne again says that Tolkien does not state in his body of work that Galadriel never went to Númenor. As for the ‘masculine’ act he says, “One of her nicknames is “Nerwen,” which means “man-maiden.” And, she does not act masculine.”
Fan complaint #4: New costumes — again, why?
While McKay disagrees with the fan opinions, he adds, “I think we are always talking about a lived-in world, and we’re always talking about adding breakdown (to give costumes a more worn-in look). Also, guess what? Sometimes clothes are new.”
Fan complaint #5: “Rings of Power”, why so slow?
Payne, like Tolkein, wants you to take time and “sink into characters to a journey.” He says, “A lot of blockbusters have a breakneck pace where you’re wheeled from one set piece to the next until it all collapses under its own weight. I hope people will have the patience to settle in for a Tolkien epic.”
Payne and McKay’s responses to fan criticisms coincides with THR’s “The Rings of Power” cover story, released earlier this week, where McKay noted: “There are things that didn’t work as well in season one that might have worked in a smaller show… It has to be about good and evil and the fate of the world, or it doesn’t have that epic feeling you want when you’re in Tolkien.”
“The Rings of Power” marks the duo’s first time working as showrunners after landing the Prime Video series job against a number of potential rivals. Ultimately it was Payne and McKay’s passion for Tolkien’s world and deep knowledge of Middle-earth that won over Amazon executives. While the extremely difficult first season taught them a lot, the pair expect season two to be “bigger and better” on “every level … by an order of magnitude.”