Remember back in 2017, when Amazon cut a deal with the J.R.R. Tolkien estate for a cool $250 million? Before the ink had even dried, word on the street was that Amazon’s purchase of the Tolkien film rights would translate to a television series about young Aragorn, set long before the would-be King of Gondor was fighting wars and ruling kingdoms. But then, the show never got off the ground, and now, The Rings of Power is a month out from launching on Amazon Prime. For years, fans have been wondering: was the young Aragorn show just a pipe dream, or did it ever have a real shot?
Now, we finally know the full story. In a new interview with Total Film, Rings of Power co-showrunner J.D. Payne confirms that the young Aragorn show was a real contender—one of many, in fact.
"When we first went up for the job, we were told there were literally dozens of other people who were also throwing their hat in the ring, and everyone was coming in with different things," Payne said. "Amazon bought the rights to the trilogy, the appendices, and The Hobbit. They said the field was wide open—any story within that material, you could tell. So you had people pitching the Young Aragon show, or the Gimli spinoff, or other kinds of things."
Lord of the Rings fans will remember that after the death of his father, Aragorn was raised in Rivendell as a ward of the elf lord Elrond. Elrond gave Aragorn the name “Estel” and loved the boy like an adoptive son, only revealing his real name and his royal heritage when Aragorn turned twenty. After that, Aragorn’s youthful adventures began: he fell in love with the unattainable Arwen, traveled Middle-earth alongside Gandalf, committed some epic wartime deeds in multiple kingdoms, then “passed out of knowledge” for decades until the action of The Lord of the Rings, which begins when he’s 87 years old (royal genes blessed him with long life). War, mystery, forbidden love—it all sounds like a great television show, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t meant to be.
"They wanted to make something that felt worthy of Tolkien," Payne continued. "And as we really thought about it, and culled through the material, we saw all different kinds of stories. That story of the Second Age—the Dark Lord Sauron and the Fall of Númenor, and the fight against Sauron at Mount Doom—that arc of the major Second Age events felt like such an amazing, untold story."
Chin up, Aragorn fans—in the Rings of Power, we have five seasons of Tolkien goodness to look forward to, starring many of Aragorn’s ancestors (including Elrond himself). Maybe somewhere down the road, we’ll finally get the Aragorn show of our dreams. Just as long as there’s no Tom Bombadil spin-off.
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