And if anyone would know, it’s Frodo, right?
Speaking to Empire Magazine (via /Film), Lord of the Rings film trilogy star Elijah Wood mentioned his confusion over the name of Amazon Prime’s upcoming prequel show, which will take place in Middle-earth’s Second Age, thousands of years before the events chronicled in Lord of the Rings.
“I find it bizarre that they’re calling it Lord of the Rings as a shorthand, because it’s not Lord of the Rings! It takes place in the Second Age of Middle-earth,” Wood explained to Empire. “I am fascinated by what they’re doing with the show. They’re calling it The Lord of the Rings, but I think that’s slightly misleading. From what I understand, the material they are working on exists chronologically further back in history in lore of Lord of the Rings or Middle-earth than any characters represented in Lord of the Rings. It sounds more Silmarillion era. Not to get nerdy, but it’s the Second Age of Middle-earth.”
My dude, if you’re talking about Lord of the Rings, you’ve already gotten nerdy. Which is fine! But the man behind the hobbit is completely right, as in-universe, Lord of the Rings is a tome written by Frodo about his adventures with the One Ring until its destruction at Mount Doom. In our real world, Lord of the Rings also refers explicitly to the book and movie trilogy about Frodo acquiring the One Ring from his uncle and getting rid of it. This is why Tolkien’s The Hobbit novel and The Hobbit film trilogy are called The Hobbit and not Lord of the Rings (or Lord of the Rings: The Hobbit, for that matter).
So it would seem that calling the upcoming Amazon Prime show Lord of the Rings: Anything is a misnomer…unless you believe the Lord of the Rings isn’t only a title but an epithet, given to the character of Sauron, the villain of Lord of the Rings. If that’s the case, then you’re all right, because Sauron is also the main bad guy during Middle-earth’s Second Age, which culminated when Isildur chopped off Sauron’s finger and yoinked the One Ring for himself. The Rings of Power are very much a part of the Second Age, as is Sauron.
The question of who or what “Lord of the Rings” does or should refer to is an argument that has endured to this very day. Of course, the real answer as to why Amazon is calling its show Lord of the Rings is because the title has brand awareness and the mass audiences that went to see the movies are going to be infinitely more likely to check a show with this title rather than something like Middle-earth: The Second Age. But that begs its own question: If people tune into a show called Lord of the Rings and Frodo and Samwise and the gang never show up, will they keep watching?