Originally Posted by erik myers
Agreed that it's the right choice, dramatically, in having Aragon confront Sauron; there's just no way to do it that in any way enhances Aragon as a character, or completes his arc. There's no winning the battle, and he already passed the "Isildur Test" when he rejected The Ring back in the first film.
Sauron's onscreen absence was always a problem from a screenwriting perspective.
I think having Sauron appear for a duel in which...
a) Aragorn physically bests him, with the Ring's destruction banishing his spirit forever
b) Sauron whomps Aragorn, with Aragorn being saved by the Ring's destruction
...would be a mistake. The first diminishes Sauron, reducing him to a force which can be physically fought against, and physically defeated. I know he's physically fought umpteen times in the whole Middle-Earth history, but in the context of The Lord of the Rings, he's a shadowy force of evil, and that works best for the story's themes.
The second adds an unnecessary ticking clock, and makes the ending a little more obvious. If we know Sauron's about to slam his mace into Aragorn's face, we'll know exactly when the Ring's going to fall into the fire.
I read LotR when I was 12, in the summer before the first film came out. I was initially surprised and disappointed that Sauron never appeared - Star Wars, Harry Potter, and other fantasy stories had taught me to expect a big confrontation with the final villain. It initially seems less dramatic, but ultimately, I am very glad they backtracked on this change.Aragorn vs. Sauron would be a cool visual, but it would be at the expense of the more original, trippier imagery of the interaction between the black gate, Barad-dur, and Mount Doom. There are tonnes of stories - many of which take massive cues from LotR - in which the big villain and the big hero duke it out at the end. The fact they don't is in itself a good thing, simply because it feels compulsory, and the fact that they don't feels more novel. Aragorn is a true king going against the armies of the devil - he's settling a moral score more than a personal one. Sauron's absence from the field makes him seem more nightmarish, which makes Aragorn and his friends seem braver.