If you’re a fan of all things Middle-earth and Lord of the Rings you’ll know Warner Bros recently confirmed it would be working to expand the Middle-earth universe on-screen. Alongside the various Middle-earth videogames and Rings of Power TV series, there will be new Lord of the Rings movies.
These new Lord of the Rings movies won’t be remakes or reboots, though. Instead, they’ll be delving into the treasure trove that is Tolkien’s lore for Middle-earth. They might be direct prequels, telling the story of Lord of the Rings characters we already know and covering ground between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Or, they might look further to the past and put the rise and fall of Morgoth on display. For now, we don’t know.
Perhaps the idea of Tolkien’s Middle-earth being scoured (like the Shire) on an endless quest for ‘content’ fills you with dread. Afterall, it’s a common complaint that there is too much reliance on existing franchises in Hollywood and the constant need to ‘explore’ them in more detail removes the magic. But even before the recent announcement, there was already a new Lord of the Rings movie on the way, scheduled for 2024: it’s an anime movie titled War of the Rohirrim, and it sounds perfect.
When the news broke about the latest plans for Middle-earth, War of the Rohirrim might have slipped your mind. Or, perhaps you never even knew about its existence in the first place.
War of the Rohirrim will be an anime movie set around 200 years before the events seen in the Lord of the Rings movies and will tell the story of the kingdom of Rohan in its fight against the forces of Dunland (and others). It will focus on Helm Hammerhand as he leads his people to the famous Helm’s Deep, and the battles that he and his family face while under siege.
The story is based on Tolkien’s Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers, II: The House of Eorl, which can be found at the end of the Lord of the Rings books. Here, the tale is told in brief, and the movie will work to flesh it out and expand it into something epic.
Rather than reboots or direct prequels, or (as with Rings of Power) stories that almost entirely deviate from Tolkien’s lore, new Lord of the Rings movies would do well to take note of this bold approach. War of the Rohirrim will see places fans know and love and will have familiar names, but it will be something new and exciting too, and draw attention to an under-acknowledged part of Tolkien’s Middle-earth history. This is how it should be done.
Even bolder is that War of the Rohirrim is an anime movie. It’s being co-produced by animation studio Sola Entertainment, and so (if the concept art is anything to go by) will be sure to have a beautiful, striking art style allowing for the creative freedom that a Middle-earth fantasy movie deserves.
This decision especially, to make War of the Rohirrim an anime (albeit with an English-speaking cast), is perhaps part of the reason why it has got so little attention, though. Anime is often seen by unknowing audiences or critics as some kind of niche or even as a ‘lesser’ cinematic medium. Of course, this is a major error in judgement, and it’s not too hard to argue that a fantasy story like Lord of the Rings is actually even better suited to the format than live-action.
This way, we get to see Middle-earth through a new lens, with action sequences that aren’t bound by logistical limitations like corralling extras or creating huge sets. War of the Rohirrim being an anime means that audiences can watch a Lord of the Rings movie in front of a huge cinema screen and see it directly as it’s come from the artists’ imagination.
War of the Rohirrim is just as exciting – if not more exciting – than the other new Lord of the Rings movies on the horizon. Its boldness should be a template for them to follow, with its balance between telling a new story in a familiar setting and its dedication to bringing Middle-earth to a new medium. This is how you keep Lord of the Rings, and Tolkien’s vision, fresh. It makes War of the Rohirrim the most exciting Lord of the Rings project in decades.
Amid all the chaos, please don’t forget about the existence of the Lord of the Rings anime movie. It’s worthy of your attention too.
For more on Middle-earth, check out our guide to the Rings of Power season 2 release date. Or, take a look at our explainers on War of the Rohirrim characters including Eowyn, Freca the Dunlending, Wulf the Dunlending, Frealaf Hildeson, and Hera. Alternatively, keep up to date with all things anime by taking a look at our guide to the best anime series, anime characters, and the Demon Slayer season 3 release date.