If you want to be technical about it, we already got our first look at Moriarty in ”Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” albeit as an afterthought in the background of the giant head posters for the film that arrived over the weekend. Well, Jared Harris finally gets his due as USA Today has unveiled the first look at the villain in the film and also a few details on the story that until now have been kept on the down low.
The film will borrow plot elements from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's short story, "The Final Problem," first published in 1893. The tale, which Doyle himself ranked fourth on his own list of favorite Holmes stories, starts off in a crakerjack fashion with Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) surviving three murder attempts from the nefarious Moriarty. Holmes teams with Watson (Jude Law) to finally capture Moriarty who heads up a criminal organization and the two take off across Europe to track him down. Where the film will likely deviate from Doyle's tale is a larger role for Mycroft (Stephen Fry), Holmes' brother who only briefly appears in the story, and the inclusion of the gypsy Sim played by Noomi Rapace.
"Moriarty is one of the most famous villains of all time," director Guy Ritchie said. "But we didn't want to make him a conventional character. The challenge was to still make him modern, believable."
As for the decision to do a sequel at all, Ritchie, who was hesitant at first, says it was pretty much a no brainer to make a followup to the hit film. "I can't help myself," he said. "They wanted this to be a franchise, which, in my mind, needs at least two movies. But I really liked working with the team on the first movie, so this was an easy choice."
All in all, it looks like 'A Game of Shadows' will respectfully look at the past while pumping it up with all the things people expect from a contemporary blockbuster. If it remains as breezy and surprisingly light as its predecessor, we'll be pleased. The first trailer should be dropping any moment now and the film hits theaters on December 16th. Update: Robert Downey Jr. talks (uncomfortably) with ET below and hints about a third film.