The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay admitted their show does not have a number of rights that depict events from the Second Age of The Lord of the Rings world.
Speaking with Vanity Fair, Payne revealed they only have the rights to The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, the appendices, and The Hobbit.
He stated, “We have the rights solely to The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, the appendices, and The Hobbit. And that is it. We do not have the rights to The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-earth, or any of those other books.”
One wonders why in the world someone would endeavor to bring to live-action the Second Age when you don’t have the rights to the key materials that document the Second Age.
Well, McKay has an answer, “There’s a version of everything we need for the Second Age in the books we have the rights to.”
“As long as we’re painting within those lines and not egregiously contradicting something we don’t have the rights to, there’s a lot of leeway and room to dramatize and tell some of the best stories that [Tolkien] ever came up with,” he added.
Despite the show not arriving on Prime Video until September, the show’s first trailer and the initial images first published by Vanity Fair reveals they have already egregiously contradicted those books.
They turned Galadriel into a commander of the Northern Armies. A northern army was created by King Ondoher and led by him when he defended Gondor from an invasion by the Wainriders of Rhovanion. Ondoher’s creation of this northern army and its use in defending against the Wainrdiers was detailed in Unfinished Tales.
Galadriel was not a commander although “she did look upon the Dwarfs also with the eye of a commander, seeing in them the finest warriors to pit against the Orcs,” as Tolkien noted in Unfinished Tales. There is a difference between being a commander and looking upon someone with the eye of a commander.
However, before he wrote that he also wrote, “Galadriel was more far-sighted in this than Celeborn; and she perceived from the beginning that Middle-earth could not be saved from ‘the residue of evil’ that Morgoth had left behind him save by a union of all the peoples who were in their way and in their measure opposed to him.”
She isn’t leading forces into battle as the trailer depicts her. One would think if she previously did, she would have done so in The Lord of the Rings as well. Instead, she plays a very different role as a guide and ally as the Queen of the Elven realm of Lórien.
The show also introduces us to a Dwarf princess named Disa. In Appendix A, Tolkien wrote, “Dís was the daughter of Thráin II. She is the only dwarf-woman named in these histories. It was said by Gimli that there are few dwarf-women, probably no more than a third of the whole people.”
“They seldom walk abroad except at great need, They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other peoples cannot tell them apart. This has given rise to the foolish opinion among Men that there are no dwarf-women, and that the Dwarves ‘grow out of stone,’ he added.
Disa does not look like any of the other dwarves the show featured. Another clear egregious contradiction.
Nevertheless, Payne and McKay once again showed their hubris and pride that they could do Tolkien’s story better than Tolkien.
McKay previously revealed his hubris when he told Vanity Fair, “Can we come up with the novel Tolkien never wrote and do it as the mega-event series that could only happen now?”
In this new Vanity Fair article, Payne adds, “We took all these little clues and thought of them as stars in the sky that we then connected to write the novel that Tolkien never wrote about the Second Age.”
Interestingly, they try to justify their hubris by claiming, “We worked in conjunction with world-renowned Tolkien scholars and the Tolkien estate to make sure that the ways we connected the dots were Tolkienian and gelled with the experts’ and the estate’s understanding of the material.”
However, the production canned Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey. It’s unclear why he was canned. Vanity Fair suggested it was over a NDA breach claiming he gave “an apparently unsanctioned interview to a German fan site that July, opining on what the show could and could not explore. Not long after that, Shippey was no longer involved with the series.”
Who knows if that theory is true, but canning a prominent Tolkien scholar and then touting you worked with them to justify your egregious contradictions from Tolkien’s lore is despicable.
What do you make of the fact that Amazon doesn’t have the rights to the majority of the works that cover the Second Age?