Amazon has the chance to totally redefine how casual fans see Middle-earth. The streaming service’s upcoming Lord of the Rings prequel series, The Rings of Power, is set thousands of years before Frodo makes his fateful journey to Mordor, and it’s expected to begin before the One Ring has even been forged. That means the series will bring to life some of the events, locations, and conflicts that are only alluded to in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films.
By taking place when it does, The Rings of Power also has the chance to show characters from the Lord of the Rings trilogy in ways they’ve never seen before. That’s especially true of the show’s unique, unexpected, and already divisive take on Galadriel.
The Galadriel You Know — In the Peter Jackson-directed Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies, Galadriel is played by Cate Blanchett and depicted as an almost mythic figure: An immortal Elf dressed in flowing white gowns, wiser than nearly everyone else on Middle-earth, and capable of wielding powerful magic. She’s defined by her wisdom and soft, whispery voice, and Blanchett’s performance has entered near-iconic status since those films were released.
The Galadriel fans meet in The Rings of Power will be very different. With Saint Maud actress Morfydd Clark taking on the role, Galadriel will not only be younger but more active, and a prolific fighter.
The Galadriel You Don’t — In a recent Vanity Fair feature on The Rings of Power, Morfydd Clark’s Galadriel is described as being “angry and brash,” and is said to be “certain that evil is looming closer than anyone realizes.” One of the photos that accompany the feature shows Clark’s Galadriel standing near a burning home wearing a full suit of Elven armor.
Additionally, the piece reveals that the series will catch up with Galadriel when she’s busy hunting down those who had a hand in slaying her brother in the First Age. That means she’ll immediately be taking a more active and surprisingly bloodthirsty role in The Rings of Power than she ever did in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Now, there are parts of Clark’s Galadriel that should immediately ring true to Lord of the Rings fans — namely, her belief that the initial peace of the Second Age will come to an end sooner than everyone else thinks. The character, notably, is one of the few Elves that immediately suspects Sauron when he shows up as Annatar, the Lord of Gifts, and she’s also distrustful of Saruman long before he betrays the White Council and joins Sauron’s cause.
Galadriel, more than any other Lord of the Rings character, has an innate talent for perceiving peoples’ true intentions. That makes her one of Sauron’s greatest threats, so it makes sense that she’ll be the most suspicious and cautious character in The Rings of Power.
However, the reveal that Galadriel will also be an armor-clad warrior may come as a surprise to some Tolkien fans. The character has always had an imposing presence in both Tolkien’s books and the film adaptations of his work, but the series’ decision to highlight her martial aspect means the show has the potential to greatly reshape viewers’ perception of her.
The Inverse Analysis — Debates are already being had about whether the show’s decision to make Galadriel an Elven warrior makes sense, and it’s clear that many will be going into The Rings of Power skeptical about the character.
Coming off Cate Blanchett’s immaculate performance, that may have been the case no matter how The Rings of Power chose to depict Galadriel. However, by bringing Galadriel to life in such a surprising way, The Rings of Power has the potential to either give fans a rich and nuanced imagining of one of Tolkien’s best characters or just make them miss Blanchett’s interpretation even more than they already do.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premieres September 2, 2022 on Prime Video.