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The Sauron Fight Scene From The Lord Of The Rings We Never Got To See

"The Lord of the Rings" is littered with incredible fight scenes. From one-on-one battles with a Balrog or a Witch-king to charging armies, oversized elephants, and epic explosions (we'll ignore that one awkward wizard duel), every installment of Peter Jackson's trilogy has fight scenes that leave fans on the edge of their seats.

As the story progresses, all of these duels and battles lead to a final showdown in front of the Black Gate of Mordor. As the Army of the West arrives on the doorstep of the Land of Shadow, it is surrounded by Sauron's forces, and the two sides get right down to business. The fight begins with Aragorn charging a mass of Orcs "for Frodo." It's an accurate battle cry — the whole thing is a giant, deadly ploy to distract Sauron while Frodo and Sam make the last gasp effort to reach the Cracks of Doom and destroy the One Ring.

In the ensuing fight, Aragorn defeats many of his foes until he comes into contact with a fearsome antagonist — a giant, armored troll. Based on the scene from the book, this isn't just any troll, either. It's a hill-troll chieftain. This villain is fearsome enough on its own — remember, the Fellowship has to work together to kill the troll in Moria — but it turns out that this gnarly opponent is actually a dramatic downgrade from the enemy that Aragorn was actually supposed to be fighting when the scene was originally filmed.

Aragorn was supposed to fight Sauron

The behind-the-scenes footage released after "The Return of the King" came out reveals an endless string of fascinating factoids. As is usually the case with this kind of bonus footage, some of the information is cute and useless, while other reveals completely change how you watch a particular part of the movie. In the case of Aragorn's duel with the troll, the original purpose of that footage dramatically changes the story. Why? Because when it was first filmed, the hero was supposed to be dueling with none other than the Dark Lord Sauron.

In the BTS film, the production crew — including Peter Jackson, Viggo Mortensen, and Philippa Boyens — explain that as the story came to a head, they felt that Sauron needed to make an appearance "in the flesh." The villain appears in a humanoid form in the introduction to the first film but is only seen as a too-literal eyeball floating on top of Barad-dûr after that point. The team felt that the villain needed to play a more substantial role in their adaptation of the story. On top of that, Aragorn was in the final act of his long evolution from an exiled ranger to the returned king. What better way to symbolize this culmination of his character evolution than through a duel with the primary villain standing in the way of his triumphant return to Gondor?

So the team went to work. They storyboarded the idea and then actually filmed it — you can see glimpses of the footage in the BTS clip. It doesn't just have a black-armored Sauron. The villain initially comes in an angelic, blinding white light. He's seen as Annatar (an attractive form of the Dark Lord that we might see in Amazon's "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" show) before morphing into his signature Jacksonian black armor and dueling Aragorn.

The scene was cut, but some footage still appears in the film

As Peter Jackson went on to explain, after brainstorming the idea and then filming the massive fight scene for three days, he and his crew decided that it just wasn't working. The oversized suit of armor (worn by a very ordinary-sized actor) looked clunky. The blinding light didn't quite work. Most important of all, the entire vibe of the encounter wasn't helping the story. On the contrary, it detracted from the Frodo and Sam narrative and distracted from Aragorn's importance as a military commander. He's supposed to be a sacrificial leader, not someone hogging the spotlight with a one-on-one duel with the Dark Lord — especially since, you know, that duel doesn't even happen in the books.

So they axed it from the script fairly early in the process. They left eyeball Sauron up on his tower and had Aragorn focus on helping his Hobbit friends. But they felt that now it was too sparse. Aragorn needed something to genuinely threaten him, so they shifted to the idea of a troll.

This seemed like a solid solution, except for the fact that they were already done filming, and, well, they didn't have footage of Aragorn fighting a troll. But then they had an idea. Why not use the footage from the fight with Sauron? That's right — the ending duel between Aragorn and the armored troll is actually taken from the fight that he originally had with the Dark Lord. "In the end, we used what we could, mostly on my side," said Viggo Mortensen for the BTS reel. "And then [we] added the troll."

But the troll fight isn't the only time the footage finds its way into the final product. Mortensen and Jackson go on to reveal that the recycled takes are also used for the scene when Aragorn walks forward as if mesmerized by the gaze of the Dark Lord — who consequently stops staring at Frodo and Sam. The light on Aragorn's face as he walks forward is actually from the glowing Annatar version of the scene. Then he turns and says "For Frodo," and the rest is cinematic history.

Would a duel with Sauron have been realistic?

The thought that the film crew actually went so far as writing and filming a fight scene with the humanoid form of the Dark Lord begs the question: Should that have ever even been an option? Like most things with Tolkien, the answer could go either way.

There is certainly precedence for a duel between a physical Sauron and a man. In fact, if Aragorn had fought Sauron, spirit to man, it would have directly mirrored the fight between Sauron and Aragorn's many-times-great granddaddy, Isildur, which bookends the other side of the trilogy. Additionally, the idea of Sauron in a physical form at this point isn't crazy. While it isn't made perfectly clear, in the books, Sauron does appear to have more than just an eyeball form. Gollum even references how the villain's hand only has four fingers after Isildur cuts the One Ring off.

While Sauron could easily have had some kind of a physical form that isn't a giant eyeball-spotlight combo, though, the idea that he would appear, manifest into a physical body, and then duel Aragorn is pretty far-fetched. Nothing like that happens in the books, to be sure. Sauron stays out of sight (though not out of mind) right to the end of the story, probably because he learned his lesson the first time he tried to fight Middle-earth's heroes and lost.

We don't end up getting a final duel with Sauron in the books or in the movies. Instead, like any good piece of one-off cinematic trivia, diehard fans have to dig through hours of behind-the-scenes footage — or at least search for a shorter version of that footage on YouTube — to even catch a glimpse of the awkward and ultimately cut scene in action. Nevertheless, a duel between Sauron and Aragorn does exist, floating in the ethers of cinematic glory for anyone to find who so desires it.