Our First Look At The Orcs In Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power Definitely Look Like Orcs

If superhero movies are only as good as their villains (which in itself is debatable, but work with me here), then epic stories set in Middle-earth need to have antagonists to match. Luckily for "The Lord of the Rings" author J.R.R. Tolkien, he came up with a veritable army of ready-made villains in the form of Orcs who went on to enjoy the limelight in their live-action adaptations. Whether it's the whiny, "Yeah, why can't we have some meat!" dude from "The Two Towers," the Olympic runner who just refused to go down before blowing up half of Helm's Deep (technically an Uruk-Hai instead of an Orc but, once again, work with me here, folks), or the one-eyed dope who almost certainly was designed to make fun of Harvey Weinstein, Peter Jackson's trilogy boasts countless Orc villains who stood out due to their meme-worthy dialogue and impressively practical costume and makeup.

After complaints that Jackson's "The Hobbit" trilogy took the far less interesting route with CGI creations (though that wasn't the original plan!), it seems like "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" series will be going out of its way to make its version of Orcs both familiar and new at the same time. IGN dropped some new details about how the upcoming Prime Video series — taking place thousands of years before the events of Jackson's trilogies, though not set within the same continuity — will depict those classically evil hordes of foes.

'These are the baby versions'

Though Orcs would eventually make up entire armies at the beck and call of the Dark Lord Sauron throughout the events of "The Lord of the Rings," it wasn't always that way. Originally conceived as a sort of twisted version of Elves that were famously adverse to sunlight, Tolkien's Orcs didn't fare so well during the Second Age of Middle-earth, which is when "The Rings of Power" takes place. IGN talked to the show's head of prosthetics Jamie Wilson and executive producer Lindsey Weber, both of whom divulged some fascinating new details on how the creative team approached these far earlier versions of Orcs. Design-wise, it meant a dramatic shift in thinking. According to Weber,

"The way I described it to my team, it's a bit like these are the baby versions. They're not actually babies, but it's them coming out from the darkness. So this is early on. So for example, if you go to past films about them, you'll see them and they're quite battle damaged and scarred and all that kind, because there's been lots more battles. This is kind of before the next range of big battles. So there's a lot more smooth texture. There's still wrinkles, and lines, and shape, and form, but they're not so battle scarred, but they are dealing with some skin conditions because of their exposure to the sun. They're coming back out for the first time again. So it's all a bit new. That's why they're not as dark skinned, necessarily not as muscle-y and not as battle worn as you'd seen in previous productions."

That's just a taste of the attention to detail the creative team brought to the show's secondary antagonists, though there's at least one major new reveal that may surprise some viewers.

'There's some female Orcs that I truly loved'

Well, this is probably going to upset some weirdos out there, for whatever reason. "The Rings of Power" is set to bring female Orcs into the action for the first time in the franchise's history. Weber dropped that bombshell to IGN, saying:

"There's some female Orcs that I truly loved. But there's one Orc in particular, who's very, very tall and strong, who has a particularly enjoyable fight with one of our Elvin characters that I suspect will be, or hope will be, a favorite among fans."

While that may stir up some uncomfortable questions about Orc procreation (a series of words I never expected to type out, but here we are), the crew are remaining tight-lipped about whether we're actually going to see the origins of Orcs at some point in this five-season series. That technically took place in the First Age, according to canon, but Wilson doesn't outright dismiss this possibility. "Well, that would just be telling you too much," he coyly responds. In any case, both Wilson and Weber emphasize that the series will employ a mix of cutting-edge prosthetics and VFX to bring these creatures to life. According to Weber:

"When they are up close to the camera, Orcs are really practical and almost exclusively. And the places where the visual effects team help we're in more numbers when we need larger quantities than you could amass on a film set anywhere in the world."

While fans will have plenty of new (and familiar) heroes to root for, it wouldn't be a Middle-earth story without some Orcs trying to spoil the fun. "The Rings of Power" will air on Prime Video on September 2, 2022.