The Lord of the Rings films are awesome, and that's an undeniable, rock-solid fact. No ifs or buts or qualifiers, they are just simply fantastic. The Hobbit trilogy was one I thoroughly enjoyed as well, even if I do understand the criticism weighed against them. However, despite having spent six films, and roughly 18 hours (more if you watch the extended versions) we still only really have a glimpse of the absolutely mind-blowingly expansive world that J.R.R. Tolkien imagined.
The Silmarillion is a collection of the history of Arda, this universe's equivalent to Earth, and is far from what you would call an easy read. But if you get into it, and really allow yourself to become embroiled in the rich lore that is presented within then you will find yourself on an adventure like any other. A journey of dragon-slayers, demons, dark elves, gods, monsters, betrayal, heroes, horror, war, and romance. No other world has such an intricately deep well of such incredible material, and it's a well that needs to have more drawn from it. One of the greatest things about it (in this context) is that it simply recounts how events transpired in a brief, bullet-point manner, leaving it free to interpretation for the writers and directors.
But it has to be handled with tact, caution and respect. This is pretty much the life's work of Tolkien, and is basically the fantasy world's bible. Still, it's just dying to be adapted more and more. Peter Jackson laid down his own imagination's take on Middle-Earth, but I for one would love to see different director's ideas come to life on the big-screen. Remember when Guillermo del Toro was going to be directing the Hobbit? It fell apart due to financial reasons and Peter Jackson took the reigns, but I'm still intrigued to see what del Toro would have done with the world. So let's give him and everyone else a chance to give a spin on Tolkien's mythology. And here's how we can do that.
Start at the beginning
Tolkien recounts how Ea (the universe) is created by the Valar, the deity that exist before all else. However, the most powerful spirit, Melkor (or Morgoth as you may have heard him called) attempts to stop this creation, but is unsuccessful. However, even though the Valar eventually succeed in creating the world and its populus, they are hard pushed to protect it very early on as Melkor attempts to eradicate Arda in what is referred to as the 'War of Wrath'. So our first step in this cinematic universe would be to recount the creation of the world briefly and then show the War of Wrath through two films. Firstly, Melkor succeeds in subjugating all of Middle-Earth, which would be showcased in the first film. Then at the end of this film, Eärendil - the child of men and elves (the only two existing races at this time) - seeks out the Valar and pleads for them to aid, which they do, having been moved by his plea. Then, finally, a great war erupts between Melkor and his fellow Valar in a second movie. Sound good so far? Well, I'm moving on either way.
Beren and Luthien
This tale is a heartbreaking one, yet one of the most potent in the history of Middle-Earth. Beren was the sole survivor of a band of men that had battled against Melkor. In his wanderings he happened upon the Elf Luthien dancing in the forest and fell in love. She later fell in love with him as well, despite the disapproval of her father, Thingol, towards a mortal man. So Thingol told Beren that in order to have Luthien's hand he must present him with one of the three Silmarils; famous jewels in the possession of Melkor and stored in his fortress Angbad.
Beren set out to retrieve one of the stones, but was followed by Luthien against her father's will. Beren recruited the help of ten elves, with whom he attempted to enter Angbad disguised as orcs. However, they were imprisoned by Melkor's servants and one by one murdered by a werewolf. One of the Elves, Finrod, managed to break free and kill the werewolf, but in doing so was himself killed. Luthien was then captured but swiftly freed by Huan, a hound of the Valar. With his help she defeated Sauron and forced him to free Beren.
Together they managed to take a Silmaril from Morgoth, but they were unable to keep it during their escape. However, upon returning home, Thingol was moved by their recount of events and allowed Beren to wed his daughter. But Beren insisted on completing his task and retreiving a Silmaril. Tragically, he was mortally wounded in his efforts, but with his dying breath handed the Silmaril to Thingol. Then, after Luthien died in her grief, Mandor, one of the Valar, took pity on her and reunited her with Beren in Lindon, an equivalent of purgatory, thus ending their tale. I dare you to tell me that this wouldn't make an amazing film.
The fall of Numenor
Where did the Gondorians come from? The answer is Numenor; an island created for the Edain (a noble and ancient race of men) where they might live in happiness. It existed for many years (like, most of the Second Age) but it fell due to the pride of its inhabitants, a pride that was manipulated by none other than Sauron, who wished the destruction of Numenor but did not possess the might to conquer it through traditional means.
So he came among them as a counselor as he still had human form. He convinced the people to worship Melkor and helped them grow in strength, knowledge and power. But then he convinced the king to sail to the Undying Lands, an act that had been banned by the Valar. So the Numenorians were destroyed by the Valar, who re-shaped the world in the process, but allowed nine ships to be carried by storms to the shores of Middle-Earth, where their kingdom became known as Gondor. That would be one single, awesome film.
The Fourth Age
The end of Lord of the Rings is where the Forth Age begins. However, it is hardly a land freed from evil. There are no further records of events in this age, leaving a whole world for filmmakers to explore in this universe. This would function as a blank sheet of paper to be filled with new tales that wouldn't be tied down by comparison to Tolkien's lore or the restrictions of an adaptation. A world is established, but needs to be filled with stories.
And there you go, a fully established and fleshed out cinematic universe for Middle-Earth. I know I'd pay to see that, and I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one. Now excuse me, I need to go recover from having to type so many brackets and employ so many information dumps on characters of Ea. So thanks for reading, and feel free to check out my YouTube channel over at Eneition. Cheers.