Magic: The Gathering Reveals Clearer Look at Race-Swapped Aragorn for ‘Lord of the Rings’ Card Set

New Line Cinema, Magali Villeneuve/Wizards of the Coast

An upcoming card game based on The Lord of the Rings appears to race-swap a number of major characters, including Aragorn, a central hero of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy saga.

As Breitbart News previously reported, “The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth” — an upcoming set for the trading card game Magic: The Gathering (MTG) — appeared to depict Aragorn as a dark-skinned man. However, the small size of the image left some doubt; the Aragorn character may have had that appearance due to the lighting of a climactic battle scene.

Now, official high-resolution previews from MTG confirm the set’s artists have depicted him with African features, though Tolkien’s novels describe him as having a “pale” face and green eyes.

A fan page previewing dozens of card designs shows MTG, a billion-dollar franchise owned by Hasbro subsidiary Wizards of the Coast, has race-swapped several other characters for the new collection. Legolas the elf is depicted as Asian, Eowyn the human is black, and Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck the hobbit appears to be Hispanic or Native American.

The release of this new artwork depicting Aragorn, famously played by U.S. actor Viggo Mortensen in the Peter Jackson film series, has sparked controversy among MTG fans and in much wider circles, as well.

Some critics have pointed out that the core elements of the fantasy series itself are rooted in historical England, with Tolkien taking mythical, cultural, and linguistic concepts from the island to create an English epic along the lines of Greece’s Illiad, Wales’ Mabinogion, Scandinavia’s Eddas and Ireland’s Táin Bó Cúailnge.

“To make Aragorn black is a political decision,” wrote MTG player, former UKIP campaigner, and political commentator Carl Benjamin.

“There is no other reason to flout canon to such a radical degree than for ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion,'” he added. “Calling out this politicisation is appropriate. It’s not poetic license, it’s attacking the fandom.”


The decision to race-swap Aragorn, along with some other notable Lord of the Rings characters, in the MTG trading card game is not unusual for modern Western media.

Often using pro-diversity sentiments as justification, numerous other fictional characters and historical figures have been depicted as black in recent years, with a Netflix series’ black version of Queen Cleopatra prompting modern Egypt’s politicians to express their disgust at having their cultural heritage trounced — some even calling for Netflix itself to be banned.

Meanwhile, the diverse casting of Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid remake has also caused some controversy, with the film seeing dismal ticket pre-sales for international audiences. Even left-leaning critics have come down hard on the new version, with Rolling Stone describing one new song written for the film by Democrat activist Lin-Manuel Miranda as being “worthy of a criminal trial.”

The idea of such a similar headache befalling the coming Lord of the Rings adaptation is likely a nightmare scenario for Hasbro, whose recent handling of the Magic: The Gathering franchise has greatly upset its fans.

Concern amongst gamers has now gotten so bad that even mainstream financial investors are worried, with Bank of America even deciding to downgrade the company’s stock late last year.

“Hasbro is overproducing Magic cards which has propped up recent results but is destroying the long-term value of the brand,” analysts within the bank wrote.

“Card prices are falling, game stores are losing money, collectors are liquidating and large retailers are cutting orders,” they went on to say.

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