Rings of Power intends to make the famously goofy dwarves “cool again,” and while this sounds promising, dwarves were never “uncool.”
The dwarves of Middle-earth will be explored in the upcoming Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, allowing the series to address a complaint about Gimli in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Dwarves were featured heavily in all six live-action Middle-earth films, with Gimli serving as the sole dwarf in the Fellowship of the Ring and Thorin’s Company making up the majority of The Hobbit trilogy’s ensemble cast of protagonists. For the most part in both trilogies, the dwarves largely serve a comic relief role, leading the Rings of Power’s showrunners to want to improve their image, but whether or not the dwarves are in need of improvement is a matter of opinion.
While Thorin’s Company were generally comedic characters in Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Gimli’s literary counterpart is depicted as a wise, thoughtful, warrior whose defining characteristics are his sentimentality, honor, and loyalty. In the Lord of the Rings films, Gimli is one of the main sources of comic relief, commenting on situations with dry wit and lightening dire situations with physical comedy. This, understandably, has led to a degree of criticism from fans of Tolkien’s novels, who took issue with Gimli’s more comedic portrayal, despite the trilogy being quite faithful to the books for the most part.
Due to the goofy image that viewers likely have of Middle-earth’s dwarves, it’s equally understandable that the Rings of Power’s San Diego Comic-Con panel came with the promise that dwarves would be “cool” again. This most likely means that characters like Durin IV and Disa will be portrayed in a more serious manner and the dwarfish traits of loyalty and honor will be showcased along with their renowned skill in combat, mining, and crafting far more than comic relief. This side of dwarves will be excellent to see in Rings of Power, but the dwarves of the six live-action films, despite their sillier portrayal, were never “uncool” to begin with.
Were Dwarves Ever “Uncool?”
Thorin’s Company was certainly the source of much of The Hobbit trilogy’s comedy, but the 13 dwarves were not one-note characters. While members of the company like Balin and Thorin received perhaps the most character development of the group, all 13 dwarves sought to reclaim their kingdom of Erebor, coming from various backgrounds and being united by a desire to reclaim their land and resources from Smaug. Whether or not the members of the company were warriors, they all fought bravely for Erebor and when members of the company perished, their deaths carried significant weight for the viewer.
Between Gimli’s numerous comedic moments in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, he is still shown to be one of the finest warriors in the Fellowship and someone whose skill in battle is matched by his emotional strength. The cinematic Gimli is unafraid to feel, weeping openly at the remains of the dwarves in the mines of Moria before his grief turns to unbridled rage towards their killers in the ensuing battle. Among Gimli’s defining moments in the film trilogy is his immediate attempt to destroy the One Ring (demonstrating his indomitable will and preference for direct methods) and his request for a sentimental gift from Galadriel while everyone else wished for a practical one. Gimli and Thorin’s Company are by no means “uncool” in the films, but the more serious dwarf portrayals in Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will nevertheless be welcome.