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Cardinal Richelieu is the main antagonist of the 2011 film The Three Musketeers.

He is portrayed by Christoph Waltz.

The Three Musketeers

After the death of the french king, he becomes the advisor of young king Louis XII, swiftly rising to power. Due to the young king's inexperience, he can be considered the true ruler of France.

After the musketeers fail their task in Venice, having been double-crossed by Milady de Winter who sold the blueprints of a war-machine developed by Da Vinci to the Duke of Buckingham on Richelieus orders, Richelieu disbands the musketeers as a punishment.

After de Winter returns to Paris and meets Richelieu, he asks her of news from England. De Winter tells him that Buckingham is coming to Paris and that he built the war machine she sold to him a year ago. Richelieu pays her for a job well done. They are disturbed by King Louis, who bursts into the room and asks de Winter of news of Buckingham, which shocks de Winter as the king is normally not interested in things as politics. However, Louis specifies that he wants to know which colour Buckingham is wearing these days, which Richelieu comments with a knowing smile. After screaming at his advisors for advising him blue clothes when Buckingham wears green, he leaves, leaving Richelieu and de Winter to their plotting.

While playing chess against Richelieu, King Louis proclaims that the game doesnt make sense as the king should be the most powerful figure. After Richelieu has won, Louis knocks the pieces off the table, asking Richelieu what he thinks of that. Richelieu replies that the king is like a force of nature, to which Louis, pleased by Richelieu's compliment, comments how boldly he took the cardinal by surprise with this move. Richelieu then asks the king whether they could talk a little about foreign politics and informs the king that Buckingham will arrive at Paris the next day to listen to their peace proposal. He also tells the king about the dangerous rivalry between the musketeers and his personal guard. He tells Louis that he has the musketeers to the palace so that the king can punish them severely.

However, when the musketeers kneel before the king, their punishment is completely different to what Richelieu hoped. When Louis is told that they fought four against forty, with Queen Anne speaking for the musketeers, they are instead awarded with new wardrobe and gold for their courage. Louis tells Richelieu to see to it. The king tells the musketeers to not fight the eminence's guards again, as there would be no guardians left in that case, and invites them to the parade for Buckingham the next day.

Plotting further, Richelieu plans to use the arrival of Buckingham to his own advantage by revealing a rendezvous of Buckingham with the queen, proven by forged letters sent by Buckingham to the queen. He orders de Winter to hide these letters in the Queen's chambers. He also tells her that more substantial proof is needed, for example a piece of the queen's jewelry in Buckingham's possession. By this he expects that France has no chance but to go to war and that a more experienced leader, like himself, will be needed for war time.

The next day, Buckingham arrives per airship. Louis, deeply envious, asks Richelieu why he does not have an airship as well. Richelieu sarcastically exclaims that this was a grave oversight on his part. Louis, oblivious to Richelieu's sarcasm, agrees and orders the cardinal to have an airship built for him.

Inside the palace, Richelieu and Buckingham talk about their peace treaty. Richelieu tells the Duke that England cannot afford war on two fronts and that a peace treaty would be most useful for both kingdoms. However, Buckingham responds that his new war machines he will readress the boundaries. During their negotiation, de Winter places the forged letters into the desk of Queen Anne. She also steals a diamond necklace from the Queen's chambers and then meets with Richelieu. Richelieu tasks her with accompanying Buckingham back to England and then hide the necklace in his personal vault in the Tower of London, further compromising him. However, de Winter asks an assurance of him, so he is forced to write a document stating that its bearer did whatever he did for the good of the state.

When the letters are found in the Queen's desk, Louis approaches Richelieu and asks him for advice. Richelieu asks whether a concrete token of esteem is mentioned in the letters and Louis tells him that the letter contains information about the necklace de Winter stole. Richelieu then advises Louis to throw a ball, as this would give him a reason to ask the Queen to wear said necklace, thereby destroying the rumors.

Later, while fencing, Richelieu is interrupted by Queen Anne who tells him that she knows. He tells her that she should be a little more specific, to which she again repeats that she knows. Richelieu responds that while she may expect him to laugh manically and further elaborate his diabolic plan but, as he has no knowledge of any evil plan, he can not satisfy her. Anne tells him that she expected him to say that but, when asked why in that case she still came, tells Richelieu that she wanted to look him in the face when he said it. She then leaves the room.

Expecting the Queen to hire the musketeers to travel to England to steal the necklace back from Buckingham, Richelieu sends his captain Captain Rochefort to kill the musketeers to eliminate possible threats. When Rochefort returns to the Cardinal after having failed to kill the musketeers, Richelieu reprimands him for his failure. He then tells Rochefort to alert Milady and put a bounty on the musketeer's heads. He also tells Rochefort to not fail him again.

Rochefort then sends soldiers to capture the musketeers once they arrive at England but they are fooled by the Queen's handmaiden Constance, who wears D'Artagnan's cloak and hat to lure the soldiers away. Constance is captured by Rochefort and brought before Richelieu, to use her as leverage on the musketeers.

After Louis has told his queen about the ball, he returns to Richelieu and tells him that Anne has promised to wear the diamonds.

After he is informed that Rochefort and his men have been killed by the musketeers, who have returned to Paris with the Queen's necklace, he loses his calm attitude, deeply afraid that his schemes could fail. He tells the palace guards to surround the palace and shoot the musketeers on sight by any means neccessary. The lead guard tries to tell him something but Richelieu tells him not to interrupt him. However, what the guard meant is made clear seconds later when the musketeers land their airship in the palace gardens, just a few feet away from Richelieu. Richelieu then tells the guards to arrest the men but before he can do more, the king arrives and asks what is happening. Arthos tells Louis that they brought him the airship he wanted on behalf on the cardinal. He tells him that sadly the ship was sabotaged by Buckingham's spy Rochefort. Louis then asks Richelieu if Rochefort wasn't head of his guard, but Arthos says that Richelieu was the one to uncover the traitor, handing the king the document given to Milady by Richelieu. Louis then thanks Richelieu for giving him an airship and exposing a traitor at the royal court. When moments later Anne arrives with the jewels around her neck, Richelieu's plot is completely destroyed.

While Louis leaves to dance with his Queen, Richelieu talks to the musketeers, and congratulates them for their political awareness, as making his treason publically would mean the ruin of France. He tells them that he could use men like them, but each of the musketeers refuses his offer. Richelieu tells them that the day will come where they wish they would have agreed,but the musketeers state that this day is not now. Richelieu then leaves the grounds, with the musketeers allowing him to retain his powers and position for the greater good.