Hasbro-owned Magic: The Gathering was blasted by social media users for race swapping Aragorn in their new The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth card set.
The official Magic: The Gathering Twitter account shared an image of the race-swapped Aragorn and captioned it, “And Aragorn gave it a new name and called it Andúril, Flame of the West.”
As noted in The Fellowship of the Ring, Aragorn is the descendant of Isildur, a Númenorean. Tolkien wrote, “‘He is Aragorn son of Arathorn,’ said Elrond; ‘and he is descended through many fathers from Isildur Elendil’s son of Minas Ithil. He is the Chief of the Dúnedain in the North, and few are now left of that folk.”
In The Peoples of Middle-earth it details the two types of people that make up the Númenoreans, the Folk of Hador and the the Folk of Bëor. For the Folk of Hador it notes, “The Folk of Hador were ever the greatest in numbers of the Atani, and in renown (save only Beren son of Barahir descendant of Bëor).For the most part they were tall people, with flaxen or golden hair and blue-grey eyes, but there were not a few among them that had dark hair, though all were fair-skinned.”
It goes on to describe the Folk of Bëor, “There were fair-haired men and women among the Folk of Bëor, but most of them had brown hair (going usually with brown eyes), and many were less fair in skin, some indeed being swarthy.”
In The Nature of Middle-earth, Tolkien makes clear that the Númenóreans, of which Isildur is one, were made up of descendants from the House of Hador and House of Bëor.
It reads, “The Númenóreans were not of uniform racial descent. Their main division was between the descendants of the ‘House of Hador’ and the ‘House of Bëor’. These two groups originally had distinct languages; and in general showed different physical characteristics. Each House had, moreover, numerous followers of mixed origin.”
Specifically detailing the House of Bëor, Tolkien wrote, “The people of Bëor were on the whole dark-haired (though fair-skinned), less tall and of less stalwart build; they were also less long-lived. Their Númenórean descendants tended to have a smaller life-span: about 350 years or less.”
As for the House of Hador, he wrote, “The people of Hador were strong, tall, and for the most part fair-haired. But the chieftains of both Houses had already in Beleriand intermarried. The Line of Elros was regarded as belonging to the House of Hador through Eärendil (son of Tuor, the great-great-grandson of Hador); but it was also descended on the distaff side from the House of Bëor through Elwing wife of Eärendil, daughter of Dior, son of Beren (last chieftain of the House of Bëor, and seventh in direct descent from Bëor).”
Fans blasted the blatant race swap, which resulted in Hasbro hiding numerous replies that called them out.
One user shared a picture of Viggo Mortensen as Aragon and simply wrote, “This is Aragorn.”
Another user tweeted, “This is not Aragorn this is just a random thing you guys did because you felt like changing characters ! This down here is the real Aragorn why did you guys had to messed that up ! Magic: The Gathering whyyy ? Like what’s the purpose”
One user tweeted, “Amazon’s: Magic: The gathering: Universes Beyond: Lord of the Rings.”
Another simply questioned, “Where’s Aragorn?”
Another properly noted, “Aragorn is not african.”
Another user noted they compared the move to Target and Bud Light’s embrace of false gender ideology and were subsequently blocked for it.
The user tweeted “Bud Light & Target” and then included an emoji of a line graph sharply declining. The user then added, “Wizards of the Coast: ‘Hold my beer.'”
Next, the user shared an image of Magic: The Gathering blocking them.
Magic: The Gathering previously justified their changes to The Lord of the Rings lore with the company’s Content Manager Adam Styborski writing in a blog post, “The look and the feel for the world, the characters, the weapons, the locations, and the story moments are going to be intimately familiar yet fresh and relevant for a wider audience.”
He added, “The folks at Middle-earth Enterprises take their roles as stewards very seriously, and every decision about characters has been made with deep reverence to the original.”
Styborski then noted the card set followed two guiding principles: diversity and originality.
He wrote, “Diversity: The Lord of the Rings is about the different peoples of Middle-earth coming together to fight Sauron, finding strength in their diversity. We want to make this appealing story fresh and relevant to an even wider audience.”
He then added, “Originality: The goal of this set is to express the story and setting of The Lord of the Rings in cards for Magic: The Gathering. Countless prior efforts have painted vivid pictures of this world, but our goal is a modern take on the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, lovingly crafted for a new generation of players and fans.”
To that end it also appears that they race-swapped Galadriel and Gandalf as well. Ironically, one of the designers, Justice Geddes, a self-proclaimed “queer-trans writer” noted, “My main contribution to this contemporary re-imagining of the Lord of the Rings was to consistently push for a diverse Middle-Earth setting that stayed true to the Tolkien text. I guided continuity and lore checks, focused on character and society details, and applied primary source material to our work.”
What do you make of these fans blasting the company for race-swapping Aragorn?