The next Lord of the Rings movie won't contain flash forward sequences – despite the inclusion of an actor from Peter Jackson's legendary live-action trilogy.
The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim will be the latest Middle-earth-set film from Warner Bros. when it lands in theaters in April 2024. And, while there had been little news to speak of – regarding its development – in recent months, that's changed now.
How? Because the animated film's main cast has been announced. Revealed by Deadline (opens in new tab), The War of the Rohirrim will star Succession's Brian Cox as Helm Hammerhand, aka the King of Rohan. Other notable names, including Snowpiercer's Luke Pasqualino and A Walk in the Woods' Gaia Wise, will also lend their voices to the piece.
It's the cast inclusion of Miranda Otto, however, that'll pique the interest of Lord of the Rings fans. Otto portrayed Eowyn in two Lord of the Rings movies – The Two Towers and Return of the King – in the early 2000s. But, with The War of the Rohirrim set 183 years before Lord of the Rings, it'll be over 150 years before Otto's Eowyn is even born, let alone play a major role in proceedings.
So, what gives? Is Otto voicing another character in The War of the Rohirrim? Or, more surprisingly, will War of the Rohirrim contain flash forwards to Rohan during Middle-earth's present day, where Eowyn lives?
The answer is neither. As Deadline revealed, Otto's Eowyn will simply be the narrator for the upcoming Lord of the Rings film. Okay, we may see Eowyn at the start of the movie as she recounts the tale of King Hammerhand to her kids, Rohan's townsfolk, or another group of individuals. Even so, we'd be incredibly surprised if The War of the Rohirrim flashes forward at any point during its runtime.
The War of the Rohirrim isn't the only Lord of the Rings production currently in development. Amazon Studios will release its own prequel project – The Rings of Power – on its Prime Video streaming service on September 2. Will it get a permanent place in our best Prime Video shows list upon release? You'll find out later this year once we (and the rest of the world) have watched it.
Analysis: what's the story of The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim?
For those who aren't familiar with the project, The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim tells the tale of Helm Hammerhand, the mighty (and former) King of Rohan whose name is etched in Middle-earth history. Remember Helm's Deep, the Rohan stronghold that takes center stage in The Two Towers' main battle? That's named after Hammerhand for reasons we'll get into right now.
The War of the Rohirrim will focus on the Rohan's last stand against the Dunlendings, a vengeful race of men who sought revenge on the people of Rohan for driving the Dunlendings into the mountains around the year 2510 in Middle-earth's Third Age. Led by the merciless overlord Wulf, who seeks vengeance for the death of his father, the Dunlendings overrun Rohan, forcing Helm and his army to flee to the ancient fortress known as the Hornburg. It's this fort that's later renamed to Helm's Deep to honor Hammerhand and his forces for enduring a lengthy siege against Wulf's Dunlending forces.
While The War of the Rohirrim will seemingly stick to Tolkien's source material, some creative liberties will be taken with its narrative and characters.
For one, Gaia Wise will voice a character called Hera, the daughter of Helm, as she leads the resistance against the Dunlendings. In Tolkien's novels, it was Helm's two sons – Haleth and Hama – who attempted to see of the Dunlendings' dual assault on the Hornburg and the city of Edoras. Additionally, the name of Helm's daughter was never revealed by Tolkien, so Warner Bros. and New Line – likely with the approval of the Tolkien estate – have created a backstory and personality for Hera.
It's unclear if Haleth and Hama will also appear in The War of the Rohirrim. Deadline revealed other casting details in its report, but the outlet didn't specify which characters the film's other actors would voice. For now, then, it seems that Helm and Hera will be the main protagonists in The War of the Rohirrim, with Wulf installed as the primary villain.
Kenji Kamiyama (Blade Runner: Black Lotus, Ultraman) will direct the animated feature, with Sola Entertainment on board as the film's production studio.