Amazon Studios The Rings of Power is four months away. We want all Spoilerites to have the best viewing experience possible and have the widest knowledge base about the Second Age of Middle-Earth. This is a weekly Let’s Get Nerdy article series highlighting a different piece of Tolkien I think you need to know about!
In past articles I have answered the question:
- What Are the Rings of Power?
- What is Númenor?
- What is the Second Age?
- Who are the Harfoots?
- Who is Prince Durin IV?
- What is Khazad-dûm?
- Who is Celebrimbor?
- What is the Last Alliance of Men and Elves?
- Who is Elendil?
- New Pics! Who are Bronwyn and Theo?
- What is Rivendell?
- The Rings of Power First Reactions Are In!
- What is Lindon?
- What are the Nine Human Rings?
- Empire Magazine’s The Rings of Power Covers
Galndalf The Grey – and later Gandalf The White – is easily one of the most recognizable characters in The
Lord of the Rings canon thanks in part to J.R.R. Tolkien’s incredible writing and in part to Sir Ian McKellen’s phenomenal portrayal. When The Hobbit trilogy of films rolled around we added Radagast to Sauron to fill out the wizard canon worldwide audiences think of. One of the most burning questions about The Rings of Power is whether or not Sir Ian McKellen will reprise his role as Gandalf for the third time or – more broadly – whether we’re going to get any wizards at all?
In the iconic Vanity Fair interview which set The Lord of the Rings fandom aflame a few months ago included the following quote from showrunner Patrick McKay:
“We have a group of actual wizards that work on the show and they came up with a huge bag of tricks in which we are constantly able to keep the audience guessing.”
Sooo … TL;DR … yes, there will be wizards in The Rings of Power, but no one seems quite sure where or how? In The Rings of Power teaser trailer we saw during the Super Bowl there is a hint of a wizard if you squint, tilt your head to the side and look really close:
Ashley V. Robinson is the biggest Lord of the Rings fan in the entire Universe. What does she think of the Rings of Power trailer that debuted during the big…
At the point in the trailer where a man falls from the sky? That’s my bet on the first wizard reveal from The Rings of Power! Gandalf, specifically, is referenced as being sent by the Valar to Middle-Earth to fight back the threat of Sauron. Although McKay goes on to state in the same interview:
“Well, I would say those are not the only beings, those names, in that class. So maybe, but maybe not. And the mystery and the journey of it is all of the fun, I would say.”
Fun fact: there are five Istari (or Maiar because everything has multiple names in Arda!), including two wizards we haven’t seen on screen yet. Could there be more than five? Theoretically, yes, based on the sheer power of the Valar. Their creative force is unparalleled. Per J.R.R. Tolkien’s written canon there are five. Having stated that, I fully acknowledge that The Rings of Power can and will expand the canon.
One of the reasons I believe The Rings of Power is likely to expand the canon where the Maiar are concerned
is because of Tolkien’s pre-stated timeline. The threat of The Dark Lord Sauron comes to a head at the end of the Second Age. The Istari aren’t sent by the Valar until the Third Age. Gandalf and the others don’t even set foot on the soil of Middle-Earth until after Sauron has been defeated by The Last Alliance of Men and Elves. One of the first things we ever learned about The Rings of Power was that the series is firmly grounded in the Second Age of Middle-Earth. You can see where these two details may feel at odds with each other even though the showrunner, as quoted above, has confirmed wizards will appear in The Rings of Power in some way, shape, or form.
Were it my choice I wouldn’t touch Gandalf with a twelve foot pole. The Rings of Power has to tread a delicate balance between acknowledging and learning from the juggernaut that is The Lord of the Rings film trilogy with its numerous accolades and worldwide fanbase and turning its focus and face toward establishing a unique identity. In my opinion if they retred on Gandalf it would be looking back rather than moving forward. I’d love to see either of the Blue Wizards.
Yes, that’s right “Wizards”, as in, multiple characters who share the same colour (and rank), within the Maiar. These two characters are named Alatar and Pallando, collectively known as The Blue Wizards or Ithryn Luin. Canonically they spend a lot of time in the eastern most reaches of Middle-Earth which is the exact opposite of where Númenor is lying off the West Coast. Other than these details there’s not a ton of material dedicated to Alatar and Pallando, but there is also nothing to say they must only have gone into the East right away. Nothing to state they never lingered and performed any good works in other locations or along the way to their ultimate fate in Tolkien’s history.
I’ll leave you this week with a quote about Alatar and Pallando from J.R.R. Tolkien, himself: