Precious

Did the Rings of Power poster just reveal the show’s shocking new villain?

Things may not be as clear-cut as they seem.

Amazon released over 20 new character posters for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power this week, but the images don’t actually reveal the series’ characters. Instead, the posters all show only the figures’ hands and torsos, with fans meant to speculate about who they could be based solely on their costumes and what they’re holding.

Predictably, some of the posters are more ambiguous than others — a character wearing simple robes and holding an apple, for instance, doesn’t give us much insight into their identity. But not even the most obvious poster that Amazon released for the show may be as simple and straightforward as Lord of the Rings fans think.

An Ominous First Look — One of the final character posters that Amazon released for The Rings of Power features an imposing figure clad in black armor and chain mail holding onto the hilt of a massive, ornate black sword with a spiked metal gauntlet. It is the only character poster that wants us to know we’re looking at one of the show’s villains.

Based on how reminiscent the character’s armor is of the kind worn by Sauron in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, many fans understandably assume that the poster’s central figure is the Dark Lord himself. However, while the figure in question could be Sauron, he isn’t the only character the poster could be showing us.

There are three — or 11, depending on how you see it — characters who could be the poster’s mysterious, armor-clad villain.

The poster in question.Amazon Studios

The Candidates — Now, it should be said right off the bat that Sauron may very well be the character seen in the above poster. Not only is Sauron expected to be the primary villain of The Rings of Power, but he also does spend some time in the Second Age of Middle-earth (when the Amazon show is set) in his warlord form. However, he isn’t expected to be wearing his black armor when he shows up for the first time in The Rings of Power.

With that in mind, it’s worth noting that this poster may be a bit of a misdirect on Amazon’s part and could be giving fans their first glimpse at none other than Morgoth. Rumors have been swirling for months now that The Rings of Power will feature the first live-action appearance of Sauron’s former master, and we know that some scenes in the show will be set during a time in which Morgoth is still active. Much like the figure in this poster, Morgoth also notably wears black armor in Tolkien’s books.

So, if this poster is indeed showing us our first look at a live-action Morgoth, then that means The Rings of Power will depict some of the most important moments from both the First Age of Middle-earth and the eras before it. For all we know, that could include the destruction of the Two Trees of Valinor and the War of Wrath.

However, there are reasons to believe the character shown above isn’t Morgoth — namely, he seems too small to be Middle-earth’s first Dark Lord. The books describe Morgoth as tall as a tower, and it’s known that he frequently wields a mace in combat, which is another reason why the figure in the poster, who is holding a sword, might not be Sauron’s former master.

Presenting: The Witch-king of Angmar.New Line Cinema

But if the character in the poster is not Sauron or Morgoth, then there’s only one other person they could be, and that’s one of Sauron’s nine Ringwraiths. Specifically, many Lord of the Rings fans have begun to speculate that the figure could be none other than the Witch-king of Angmar, the greatest of Sauron’s Ringwraiths.

As is the case with most of the Ringwraiths, the Witch-king’s history remains shrouded in mystery. That said, we know that he’s given one of the Rings of Power after they are forged in the Second Age and that he becomes the leader of the Ringwraiths in the same era. Given that The Rings of Power is set primarily in the Second Age, the series can explore the origins of the nine Ringwraiths if it chooses to — including the Witch-king.

If that’s who is in this poster, then that means The Rings of Power will reveal the backstory and identity of Sauron’s most fearsome servant.

Sauron’s greatest servants.New Line Cinema

The Inverse Analysis — Until Amazon reveals more about The Rings of Power, there’s no way of knowing for sure who the villain is in this character poster. Right now, the likeliest candidates seem to be either Sauron or one of his Ringwraiths, but there is a legitimate chance it’s Morgoth as well.

Regardless, the mere fact that these many possibilities exist proves that fans shouldn’t take any of the show’s character posters at immediate face value. After all, as is evidenced by Sauron’s manipulations throughout the time period, things are rarely what they seem to be in the Second Age of Middle-earth.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premieres September 2, 2022 on Amazon Prime Video.