As you may have already read, Peter Jackson appears to be nowhere near done with Middle-earth. In 2014, Jackson announced his plans to make a total of 72 movies based on The Silmarillion, a history of Middle-earth. While we have yet to hear more about what’s going to be happening or whether these films will ever get going, we might hope things are beginning to get underway at New Line again.
The Silmarillion— which, unlike The Lord of the Rings, is a history book and not a novel— starts with the creation of Arda, the planet where Middle-earth is located, and ends with Frodo’s journey to Mordor. Tolkien started the history book of elves, dwarves, and men long before he began writing The Hobbit and kept rewriting it for decades until he was satisfied with it.
With that said, there is plenty of material here for Jackson to work with. However, the stories in the book are not fleshed out, and Jackson will need to make a vast amount of additions to make them work as movies. To make 72 movies, he’s obviously going to have to add in a lot of dialogue and scenes that Tolkien never wrote, although he’s got a bunch of plot skeletons to work with. This material starts with a creation myth, the arrival of the elves, and their wars with a dark lord known as Melkor, and then leads into the story of men and their troubles with Sauron.
Here’s a list of stories within The Silmarillion that Jackson will probably use in these highly anticipated films. Since Jackson has said little of what he’s specifically planning, a lot of this is speculation. But there are some obviously interesting adventures he will end up using, so in actuality the predictions aren’t that tough to make. In fact, knowing what Jackson has done before, it’s probable he will make a lot of these stories into two or three films.
Jackson has confirmed that Ainulindalë, the creation myth for Tolkien’s world and the opening segment in The Silmarillion, will be the name of the first movie in the upcoming film series. The story starts out with Eru, the creator, and the Ainur, or gods or angels, singing a song which leads up to the creation of earth, but the song keeps getting messed up by one of the renegade Ainur, Melkor.
Since this chapter is only a few pages long, it’s amazing that Jackson is planning a whole movie around it. We might expect a lot of scenes similar to the Asgard scenes from the Thor movies in this first installment (a lot of Tolkien’s ideas for this came from the Norse myths about Asgard). At any rate, at the end of this opening act, there was a long and terrible series of wars between Melkor and the Ainur before elves, dwarves, and humans were created, so maybe Jackson plans to make up a lot of material about this conflict.
14. The Creation Of The Elves
In the Quenta Simarillion, which makes up the bulk of the history book, the elves are first created, and it is them who become the first inhabitants of the new earth, known as Arda. In these beginning stages, the elves are weak and vulnerable, and the Valar, the gods of the earth, are worried that Melkor will cause too much trouble for them, so they besiege Melkor and imprison him.
This tale might prove the second part in Jackson’s film series, since it may involve a bit more action. At the end of this story, some of the elves sail away on a floating island to live with one of the Valar for protection. The remainder of the Quenta deals with a long saga involving the elves, so we can expect to see a lot of scenes like the Rivendell ones in the earlier movies perhaps. Hobbits and men don’t even crop up until much later, so it might be many films before we actually see either of these familiar faces.
13. The Silmarils
The next part of the book involves how Feanor, an elf of the Noldor race of elves, created three Silmarils, a type of jewel that could burn any evil creature when it’s touched. Melkor becomes obsessed with stealing the Silmarils and after unsuccessful attempts in obtaining them, enlisted the help of the Ungoliant, a spider whose lineage is the same as Shelob’s in the first film trilogy. With the Ungoliant’s help, Melkor assassinates an elf, Finwë, who is protecting the Silmarils, but does not give the prize to the Ungoliant as per her desire. Ultimately, the Balrogs help out Melkor in his fight with the Ungoliant, and Melkor installs the three Silmarils in an iron crown on his head. This could be a real dark chapter in the film series if Jackson starts showing all these feud scenes between dark lords. Nevertheless, it’s an important aspect of the story, and there’s nothing wrong with a little darkness in the series.
12. The Melkor War
When Melkor attempts to take control of Beleriand, the northern lands of Middle-earth, Feanor and the other elves are pulled into a battle to protect it from Melkor’s orc hordes, which have by now filled the place. This turns out to be more than just one battle, and eventually there are four more battles to protect against Melkor’s conquests.
This marks the next saga in Tolkien’s history annals, and we might expect Jackson to go into this part in great detail, knowing his penchant for dramatic war landscapes between orcs, men, and elves. Ultimately, the elves were defeated in the first battle and forced to retreat. In the second, the Noldor and the Sindar (more elf races), join forces to defeat the orcs, but Feanor is killed in a final fight with the Balrogs.
11. The Glorious Battle
A peace after the first two battles between elf and orc reigns in Middle-earth for about fifty years. But after perceiving that the elves’ defense has weakened once again, Melkor tries to take over the elf kingdoms. The third battle, the Glorious Battle, commences only for Melkor to eventually be unsuccessful once more. The elves pursue the orcs to their lair in Angband, where they lay siege on Angband for four hundred years. One hundred years after this battle, Melkor tries to take over the land of Hithlum, but is defeated again. Some time after this, Melkor unleashes a dragon called Glaurung on the elves, who repel the creature back to Angband. This part could be reminiscent of the Smaug scenes in The Hobbit films, and it’s highly likely Jackson goes after this story, seeing that audiences really like dragon stories and movies. There are massive time elapses here, so Jackson may opt to create separate films here or do flashbacks spanning this whole siege era, probably the longest on record.
10. The Battle Of Sudden Flame
The fourth major battle between elves and Melkor was called the Battle of Sudden Flame, and it was called this because the dragon Glaurung was closely involved in the whole affair, terrorizing the elves while they laid siege to the orcs. In this battle, the elf Fingolfin challenged Melkor to single-hand combat. Fingolfin wounded Melkor seven times in the fight but ultimately stumbled into a pit created by Grond, the hammer of Melkor, which already appeared in The Return of the King to break the gates of Gondor. Fingolfin died in the fight, but he maimed Melkor’s foot as he passed into the afterlife. Melkor was never able to heal his seven wounds from the confrontation, and he remained lame in his left foot ever since. It’s very probable that this fight appears in the new movies. After all of the battle sequences, it will be nice to see Melkor go down. Even temporarily. And Jackson is unlikely to miss his chance at showing this on the big screen.
9. The Battle Of Unnumbered Tears
In this fifth and final battle against Melkor, Maedhros, the son of Feanor, who is captured and eventually rescued by Fingon, vows to take back the Silmarils. Unfortunately, he does not achieve what he intends, and something much worse befalls Middle-earth. By now, Melkor’s forces fully outnumber the forces of the elves and men, the last of whom only recently appeared on the scene. The result is Middle-earth’s worst nightmare: Melkor takes hold of the northern lands of Middle-earth, an assault that is led by the dragon Glaurung. Many of the elf lords are killed or captured, leaving Melkor as the lord of the northern lands known as Beleriand. After this, with his position secure in the north, Melkor sets his mind on taking over and destroying all the elf kingdoms remaining on Middle-earth. This might be something like Sauron taking over Gondor in the original films, so it seems like this could be a very dramatic and emotionally intense part in the series.
8. Beren And Lúthien
The story of Beren and Lúthien is probably the best-known story from The Silmarillion, and it’s a very high probability that Jackson makes an entire movie out of it or at least fits it in somewhere in the series. The story is similar to the Aragorn and Arwen story. Like Aragorn, Beren is a man who wants to marry an elf-woman by the name of Lúthien, but Lúthien’s father, Thingol, isn’t keen on the match. So, to test Beren, Thingol tells him he can marry his daughter if he retrieves one of the lost Silmarils from the crown of Melkor, also called Morgoth. Lúthien accompanies Beren on the journey, where she puts Melkor to sleep with a spell, enabling Beren to get the jewel. Before they can rejoice, a wolf attacks Beren and swallows the Silmaril. With Beren dying, Lúthien petitions the House of the Dead to release Beren, and she secures the boon. But in so doing, Lúthien, like Arwen, has to forsake her elven immortality.
7. The Story Of Túrin
Túrin was an elf who had a string of bad luck, mainly due to a curse cast upon his family for standing up to Melkor. Death and grief haunt him and those around him. Despite this, Túrin is successful in defeating the dragon Glaurung in a mighty showdown. The victory is short-lived as the spell is lifted and a truth is unveiled. Túrin and his sister, Nienor, had been cursed by Glaurung with a love spell, and the two kill themselves out of guilt for committing incest. In many ways, this is similar to a lot of Greek myths, and it seems a little crazy for a mainstream family-style film release, but Jackson may work the story in there in some way. He’ll probably opt to cut out the incest part, but maybe not. After all, Gladiator flirted with incest scenes, though it was sort of done as a joke on the villain emperor Commodus, played by Joaquin Phoenix.
6. The Fall Of Gondolin
The city of Gondolin is a hidden elf city in The Silmarillion, and it is the last elf kingdom to be defeated by Melkor. This is accomplished when Maeglin, an elf living in the city, betrays the city to Melkor in a situation perhaps similar to Grima Wormtongue in the first movie series. During this time, a man named Tuor marries an elf woman, named Idril, who have a son called Eärendil, the ancestor of Aragorn. Together, this family flees Gondolin with a number of other refugees. Eärendil ultimately marries Elwing, the daughter of Beren and Luthien, who gives Eärendil the lost Silmaril her parents gave her. With the aid of the Silmaril, Eärendil and Elwing sail to Valinor, where the Valar live, and plead with these gods to help elves and men in their plight with Melkor. It is a good bet Jackson will use this story, since it relates to Aragorn, a major figure in the first films.
5. The War Of Wrath
After Eärendil pleads to the Valar for help, the Valar decide to wage war against Melkor in a final, climatic battle for Middle-earth. This last battle, known as the War of Wrath, marks the end of the Quenta Silmarillion, and it is a fitting one, as the Valar overthrow Melkor and his orcs, which are ultimately scattered across the lands by the end. Melkor is not killed, but he is captured, and the Valar regain his remaining two Silmarils.
It doesn’t last long as the two Silmarils are then stolen from the Valar by the two sons of Feanor, who get burned by the jewels for their deceptive actions. One of them, Maedhros, kills himself, while the other, Maglor, hurls his Silmaril into the ocean. Meanwhile, the Valar cast out Melkor from the world and confine him in a void, banning him from Middle-earth.
4. The Rise Of Sauron
The next part in Tolkien’s story is called the Akallabêth, which might be another movie name Jackson uses and which might prove another film series in itself after Melkor’s defeat. This is primarily because it focuses on the affairs of humans, not elves so much, although the elves are always a big part of any Tolkien tale. This story relates to how men settled on an island known as Númenor, while the elves become involved in a bitter fight against Sauron, Melkor’s second in command.
The Númenor army comes to the elves’ aid in Middle-earth, but ultimately there are problems with this relationship, leading to anger between the Númenor and the elves. This story might set up the initial movie for the new series about the so-called Second Age. The First Age was about the elves and their struggle against Melkor, while the Second Age is more about the rise of men and the struggle against Sauron. Obviously, we might see many of the events here leading up to Lord of the Rings, and we might also actually see much more of Sauron in person this time.
3. Sauron Corrupts The Númenor
A later part of this story about the Númenor tells how Ar-Pharazon, then king of the Númenor, captured and held hostage Sauron. But Sauron took on a pleasant human form while captive and persuaded the king that he was a good adviser to all his affairs as king. Ultimately, this led to the downfall of the Númenor, as Sauron corrupted the place and convinced many that it was good to worship Melkor. Sauron also persuaded the king to erect a temple of worship to Melkor and to assail the Valar, whom, he argued, were not fit to hold the keys of immortality. By doing this, Sauron was attempting to eliminate both the Valar and the Númenor by getting them to fight against each other. In the end, the Ar-Pharazon and his fleet is killed by Eru, who intervenes to destroy the invasion against the Valar.
2. The Rings Of Power
Toward the end of The Silmarillion, there is some more talk about the Rings of Power and how they came about. Jackson may opt to put some of this additional lore in some later films, but it remains to be seen. This portion of the story tells us how the Elves of Eregion were deceived by Sauron into making 19 magical rings, while Sauron secretly forged the One Ring to rule them all, making the elves believe that they were coming out on top. Sauron rounded up most of the rings, but the elves were able to keep three, the three elven rings, from him. This could be a good prequel movie to The Hobbit, and many fans would undoubtedly love to see it. The story ends tragically with the destruction of Eregion, while the Men of Númenor arrive to help out the elves against the rising might of Sauron.
1. The Arrival Of The Wizards
The wizards, which include Gandalf and Saruman, don’t appear until the early part of the Third Age in the history annals of Middle-earth, and this fact may make us wonder whether Jackson will explore this story in yet another prequel idea. We learn here that the wizards, or Istari, are messengers and helpers from the West, sent by the Valar to help free Middle-earth from its constant assaults by dark lords.
The wizards are mainly quiet early on in the Third Age and do little but provide counsel to other leaders and kings in Middle-earth. Later on, they become involved in rooting out Sauron from his haunts in Mirkwood, as we know from the movies. A lot of this may prove to be rehashing events already covered in The Hobbit movies, but it remains to be seen if Jackson might reprise the role of Gandalf at some point later on. Though, there have been some indications that Jackson will. We know from The Silmarillion that Gandalf has been around for hundreds of years by the time Frodo is on the scene. It would make sense for Jackson to take advantage of this character’s legacy.