×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Rings Of Power Season 2 Scoop: Tolkien's Oliphaunts Will Arrive - But What Are They?

Middle-earth is full of fantastic creatures. One of the biggest of these is the oliphaunt — a four-legged, flappy-eared monster-of-a-beast that has become an iconic part of Peter Jackson's epic on-screen adaptation of "The Lord of the Rings." A recent rumor from the fansite Fellowship of Fans indicates that we may not have seen the last of Tolkien's massive Mûmakils on the silver screen, either.

The scoop focuses on the upcoming Season 2 of Amazon Studios' "The Rings of Power" series. It includes details about The Stranger potentially meeting another magic wielder and going on to play a key role in resisting Sauron. Tucked away amongst the story's big-ticket reveals is a little piece of info stating (via X (formerly Twitter)), "Mumakhils/ Oliphaunts are creatures internally listed in the production for #TheRingsOfPower Season 2." The potential of the massive creatures being featured in the show is an exciting one, and it could take the series' already impressive visuals to all-new levels.

For all intents and purposes, oliphaunts are massive Middle-earth elephants — but if you pay close attention, J.R.R. Tolkien makes it clear that they're not exact replicas of the oversized real-life mammals. In "The Two Towers" book, the author indicates that, more accurately, the two are related rather than the same. The text says, "The Mûmak of Harad was indeed a beast of vast bulk, and the like of him does not walk now in Middle-earth; his kin that live still in latter days are but memories of his girth and majesty."

In other words, these are gigantic cousins to the elephants we know. They are bred for war, and they achieve legendary status in the Middle-earth canon due to their terrifying feats on the battlefield.

Exploring the oliphaunt concept

While J.R.R. Tolkien doesn't talk about oliphaunts much, there are a few moments where he provides some fascinating details. The creatures are associated with Harad, a region south of Mordor, which is depicted as an overheated stretch of Middle-earth that closely mimics Africa's weather and geographic proximity to Europe. (i.e., it's an area where elephants could thrive.)

In the book "The Two Towers," Samwise, who is particularly enamored by the legendary creatures, trots out a poem about oliphaunts that describes, for all intents and purposes, an elephant. It even kicks off with the classic oxymoronic comparison "grey as a mouse." Sam adds that Hobbits have heard rumors of the Southlands and how its inhabitants ride on oliphaunts when they fight, adding, "They put houses and towers on the oliphauntses backs and all, and the oliphaunts throw rocks and trees at one another." The description leads Frodo to comment, "I wish we had a thousand oliphants with Gandalf on a white one at their head."

In the source material, oliphaunts show up more than once. Frodo and Sam see one when Faramir and his rangers ambush the men of Harad. After his adventures are over, Sam even goes back to the area in Ithilien to see if he can find the elephant-like creature — but alas, he never sees it again.

Oliphaunts make their biggest mark at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, where they serve as indomitable rallying points for the enemies of the West. "The Return of the King" book summarizes their impact on the battle thusly: "But wherever the mûmakil came there the horses would not go, but blenched and swerved away; and the great monsters were unfought, and stood like towers of defense, and the Haradrim rallied about them."

Where could oliphaunts show up on screen?

J.R.R. Tolkien's towering oliphaunts are already cinema staples due to their prominent role in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields in Peter Jackson's films. They also briefly appear (as more of a wooly mammoth take) in Rankin and Bass's 1980s "The Return of the King" animated film.

Based on the latest rumor from Fellowship of Fans, it appears that there's a good chance that we'll get more Mûmakils in "The Rings of Power," too. It's a fun move, as the show has been particularly good at its visual adaptive elements, and adding massive elephant ancestors into the mix should only make things better. It's also interesting to consider the creatures being used against Sauron's armies — a distinct possibility if we end up seeing The Stranger and others stir up rebellion against the Dark Lord in the eastern regions of the continent.

Yet another place where we may see the massive monsters in action is in Warner Bros.' upcoming anime, "The War of the Rohirrim." When concept art for the film was released a couple of years ago, it included a distinct shot of a Mûmakil once again squaring off against a line of mounted warriors from Rohan. While they're not directly mentioned in the source material for that story, oliphaunts could easily be incorporated into the "War of the Rohirrim" movie without much difficulty. Getting a new iteration of the beasts in animated form could be a special treat, too.

Whether they appear in live-action form in "The Rings of Power," a theatrical animated alternative in "War of the Rohirrim," or any other upcoming Middle-earth film, one thing is certain: Having oliphaunts in the mix is a win for any visual portrayal of Tolkien's world.