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The Entire Robert Langdon Movie Timeline Explained

In 2006, Ron Howard directed the film adaptation of Dan Brown's novel, "The Da Vinci Code," which starred Tom Hanks in the lead role as protagonist Robert Langdon. The movie, which Hanks later playfully poked fun at, ended up being the first of three big-screen releases of Brown's Langdon saga, followed by "Angels and Demons" (2009) and "Inferno" (2016). Interestingly, the theatrical order is different from the book order, with "Angels and Demons" and "Inferno" acting as cinematic sequels rather than prequels to "The Da Vinci Code."

The trilogy follows Langdon as he uses his intimate knowledge of history to unravel present day mysteries throughout Europe. He is aided in "The Da Vinci Code" by police cryptographer Sophie Neveu, and in "Angels and Demons" by Swiss scientist Vittoria Vetra. In "Inferno," Langdon works with Dr. Sienna Brooks and Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey. 

Throughout the series, Langdon uses his expertise in ancient and medieval history to solve some of the Bible's and history's oldest mysteries. While Hanks himself acknowledged in an interview with The New York Times that the films may have played fast and loose with historical truth, no one can doubt that at least "The Da Vinci Code" was a massive box office success –- earning more than $760 million worldwide (via IMDb). The series weaves a complicated tale, with a lot of ins and outs, so we're here to break it down for you. This is the entire Robert Langdon movie timeline explained.

Robert Langdon's troubled childhood

While the Robert Langdon film series picks up when Langdon is a middle-aged adult, there are still quite a few details we can piece together about his life prior to the three films. It's known that when Langdon was just seven years old, he fell deep into a well and was unable to escape for hours — crying out and becoming nearly catatonic. The experience traumatized him, and left him with a fear of enclosed spaces throughout his life. 

He was also given a Mickey Mouse watch by his parents when he was a boy. He keeps the watch and wears it everyday as an adult, and it becomes a treasured reminder for him of his parents. His personal life isn't really mentioned, but it is known that at some point he was in a serious relationship with Elizabeth Sinskey, who would later go on to head the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Langdon universe. They split up when Langdon was a young professor at Harvard and Sinskey left to take the WHO job — much to their later mutual regret. 

Before the events of "The Da Vinci Code," it's clear that Langdon has risen to become a respected historian. At some point, he became a professor at Harvard, and he had several books published about symbology. Though it's not entirely clear why, it's alluded to that he had a falling out with religion in his personal life.

Langdon becomes a suspect

The first theatrical film in the Robert Langdon series is "The Da Vinci Code," and his story starts in France. Langdon is there giving a lecture on interpreting historical symbology, when French police detectives approach him during a signing for his book. The detectives want to take him in for questioning and eventually charge him with the brutal murder of a museum curator — who was actually killed by an assassin disguised as a monk. 

Langdon, unaware of the detectives' true motives, agrees to go with them to the Louvre Museum. There, he learns that the murdered party was Jacques Saunière, the Louvre's curator, whom Langdon was supposed to meet earlier that day but never did. French detectives find out about the meeting, and immediately start suspecting Langdon of being involved with Saunière's murder. While at the Louvre, the head French detective, Bezu Fache (Jean Reno), brings Langdon to the body and questions him.

Saunière's body is covered in a bloody pentagram and posed in the same position as Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man. Immediately, Langdon's expertise in symbology kicks in, as he is able to discern the pentagram's pagan origins, though he is still largely confused by what he is seeing. Next to Saunière's body is a cryptic message and series of numbers, which neither Fache nor Langdon can identify. 

Meeting Sophie Neveu

While Bezu Fache is questioning Robert Langdon, a young French police cryptologist named Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) interrupts them. While talking with Fache, Neveu is able to secretly warn Langdon about Fache's plan to charge him with murder, and she helps him escape from the police. Neveu also reveals to Langdon that Saunière was her grandfather, and she believes he was trying to connect them together to solve the mystery of his murderer. 

Before escaping the Louvre, Langdon and Neveu decipher the mysterious writing by Saunière, which leads them to a key placed behind one of the museum's paintings. The key leads them to a secret vault at a French bank, where they find a wooden rose cryptex device inside that can only be opened with a secret password. Langdon and Neveu are forced to flee police again at the bank, and Neveu helps cure Langdon of his claustrophobia, but their luck runs out when the bank owner tries to rob them of the cryptex. Narrowly escaping, Neveu and Langdon steal his armored truck and drive away into the night.

Meanwhile, Silas (Paul Bettany), the assassin who killed Jacques Saunière, is revealed to be working with a cardinal named Aringarosa (Alfred Molina), a member of the Catholic organization known as Opus Dei. Saunière was a member of the Priory of Sion, a religious organization tasked with protecting the biblical Holy Grail. The assassin murdered Saunière and four others hoping to get the location of the Grail, but none of his victims disclose it.

Working with Leigh Teabing

While Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu are fleeing, Langdon starts to piece together a connection between Neveu, Saunière, and the Priory of Sion. However, realizing he is out of his field, Langdon drives to the home of an English religious scholar who lives nearby in France, Leigh Teabing (Ian McKellen). Teabing and Langdon explain the legend of the Priory to Neveu, explaining to her that the Priory protects the Church's source of power on Earth –- the Holy Grail.

They reveal that the Grail is not an object, but rather a bloodline descending from the child of Jesus of Nazareth and Mary Magdalene. Unbeknownst to Langdon and Neveu, Saunière's assassin Silas has been tracking them, and he confronts them at Teabing's house -– only to be incapacitated himself. They all travel to London to investigate the Grail's location, having now deduced that Saunière was murdered due to his membership in the Priory. 

Later, it turns out that Teabing is actually the one behind the murder of Saunière and the four others, all of whom were high-ranking Priory members. Teabing wanted to expose the existence of the Grail to prove Jesus' mortality and bring down the Catholic Church, which he despises. Eventually, Silas dies and both Teabing and Cardinal Aringarosa are arrested, while Langdon finally solves the cryptex.

Sophie Neveu's royal bloodline

After Robert Langdon solves the cryptex, he deduces that the Grail is hidden in the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland, and he and Sophie Neveu immediately drive there. In the church's basement, they discover a trove of ancient documents, some thousands of years old. Using the documents, Langdon realizes the truth: Neveu is a living descendant of the Jesus-Magdalene bloodline, and Jacques Saunière was not her grandfather but her Priory protector. 

Saunière took on the responsibility of raising Neveu following her faked death in a car accident. They later had a falling out when Neveu was a teenager, which she now realizes was the result of a misunderstanding due to Saunière taking part in secret Priory rituals. When Langdon and Neveu go upstairs, they are confronted with a group of Priory members who call themselves "the keepers." One of them turns out to be Neveu's grandmother, and she informs her that they are her guardians and protectors.

Langdon and Neveu have one last conversation, with the question of whether she will reveal herself to the public being left ambiguous. Later, when Langdon is at his hotel, he has an epiphany where he realizes the current resting place of the original Holy Grail, Mary Magdalene. Realizing the cryptex did not refer to the Rosslyn church, but rather the Paris Rose Line, he runs to the Louvre and prays above the Pyramide Inversée – under which is an underground chamber housing Magdalene's tomb.

The Vatican comes calling

Following the events of "The Da Vinci Code," Robert Langdon returns to his job as a professor at Harvard. However, he is soon called back to Rome to help the Vatican with a series of kidnappings in "Angels and Demons." In the Langdon universe, the Pope has just died and the Vatican is holding the papal conclave to elect his successor. During the conclave, four of the preferiti –- or most favored papal candidates -– are kidnapped by an unknown assassin claiming to represent the Illuminati.

The Illuminati is a shadowy organization that Langdon had previously written a book about, "The Art of the Illuminati," although he was unable to finish the book's sequel after being denied access to the Vatican's archives. But the book, along with his previous escapades in "The Da Vinci Code," prompts the Vatican to ask for his help. The Illuminati kidnapper messages the Vatican that he will soon murder the kidnapped cardinals one per hour as a message to the church.

Meanwhile, at the CERN research laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, scientist Dr. Father Silvano Bentivoglio and his research partner Dr. Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer) are working on an experiment involving antimatter. However, just as they are beginning the experiment, Bentivoglio is murdered and the cannister of antimatter is stolen. Vetra is soon taken to the Vatican in Rome, after it is discovered that the kidnapper of the cardinals is the same person who stole the canister –- which is also now in Rome near the Vatican.

Working with Vittoria Vetra and the camerlengo

Once Robert Langdon and Vittoria Vetra arrive in Rome, they are both immediately taken to the Vatican's security headquarters. There, it is revealed to them that the kidnapper plans on exploding the canister of antimatter after executing the cardinals. Langdon starts revealing the history of the Illuminati, saying its members were persecuted by the Church and had since vowed retaliation against them. 

Using knowledge gained from the Vatican archives, Langdon, Vetra, and the Vatican police detectives trace the Illuminati's ancient Path of Illumination to save the kidnapped cardinals and prevent the release of the antimatter. The pope's protégé, the camerlengo (Ewan McGregor), also tries to assist them. Langdon uses his knowledge of history to decipher the four altars of the Path of Illumination, which is where he thinks the cardinals' assassinations will take place. But he and the police are constantly one step behind the kidnapper — who brands each of his victims with an ambigram as an Illuminati trademark before killing them.

While trying to save the cardinals, Langdon and Vetra discover that the pope did not die of natural causes but was instead murdered. Thinking there is a mole inside the Vatican working for the Illuminati, Langdon and Vetra try to figure out who it could be, in addition to saving the cardinals. They both suspect it is one of the security guards, Richter, but he is killed when they catch him seemingly trying to murder the camerlengo.

Discovering the truth

After rescuing the camerlengo from the apparent Illuminatus conspirator, Langdon, the camerlengo, and Vetra are able to discern the location of the antimatter –- which is hidden below the Vatican. Realizing it will inevitably explode, the camerlengo takes it and commandeers a helicopter, flying it as high as possible before jumping out at the last minute as the antimatter detonates.

The explosion is high enough to avoid significant destruction, and the camerlengo incredibly survives by parachuting out of the helicopter. Everyone initially thinks the camerlengo is a hero, but Langdon and Vetra are soon able to discover the dark truth: the camerlengo is the secret mastermind behind the kidnappings of the cardinals, the pope's murder, and the theft of the antimatter. The pope wanted to use the antimatter experiment as proof of divine power, but the camerlengo saw it as blasphemy, fearing scientific proof would replace divine faith among the masses and undermine God.

To prevent this from happening, the camerlengo murdered the pope and stole the antimatter, while resurrecting the Illuminati myth as a scapegoat. After his duplicity is revealed, the camerlengo immolates himself to avoid facing consequences. To protect the Church's image, the camerlengo's deviousness is never revealed to the public, who instead believe that he dies a hero as the result of injuries from the antimatter explosion. A new pope is elected, and Langdon is finally granted access to the Vatican archives to finish his new Illuminati book. 

Langdon gets apocalyptic hallucinations

Following the events of "Angels and Demons," Robert Langdon finds himself waking up in the hospital at the beginning of "Inferno." He is suffering from amnesia, and is having horrific hallucinations and apocalyptic visions -– the apparent result of a gunshot wound to the head. While trying to understand what's happening, an assassin enters the hospital and heads towards Langdon, who only escapes due to the assistance of his doctor, Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones). Langdon and Brooks flee the hospital and go back to Brooks' flat.

Once at Brooks' flat, Langdon realizes he has a fingerprint-activated miniature projector that reveals a painting of Dante's Inferno, only with the levels of hell out of order. The painting is signed by Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), who Langdon and Brooks start researching. Zobrist is famous for giving speeches regarding what he saw as the overpopulation of the human race on Earth. He has concluded that without immediate action, overpopulation would eventually lead to widespread war and ultimately the extinction of humanity.

It also turns out that he has died just a few days prior, after jumping off a building while being chased by agents from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Bertrand Zobrist and Inferno

After researching Bertrand Zobrist further, Robert Langdon and Sienna Brooks discover that before his death he created a viral pathogen, known as Inferno, which he has planned to unleash on the public. While they are hiding out at Brooks's apartment, both the World Health Organization (WHO) and a shadowy organization known as The Consortium send agents to try and capture Langdon. The WHO is trying to capture Langdon because they had previously worked with him on trying to stop Inferno –- which he can't remember due to his amnesia –- and The Consortium is trying to kill him after their deal with Zobrist goes south.

Fleeing both organizations, Langdon and Brooks find themselves traversing Venice and Florence while trying to discover clues about the location of Inferno. After Brooks inadvertently kills a Consortium assassin, a WHO agent catches up with them and convinces them he is on their side. However, Langdon soon deduces that the WHO agent is lying, and both him and Brooks escape from the agent's custody. Still trying to figure out where Zobrist is planning on exposing Inferno to the public, Langdon eventually realizes it will be done at the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey.

The shocking betrayal

Fleeing the WHO agent, Robert Langdon and Sienna Brooks find themselves trapped in a sewer. Brooks manages to get a passerby to help get her free, but she refuses to help Langdon escape along with her. She reveals to Langdon that she was working with Bertrand Zobrist the entire time, and the two were previously lovers. Brooks agrees with Zobrist's ideals on culling the overpopulation of the human race, and wants to release Inferno as a means to do so.

Langdon remains trapped in the sewers and is captured by the WHO agent. While the agent is interrogating Langdon to find Inferno's location, the owner of The Consortium, Mr. Sims (Irrfan Khan), sneaks up and murders him. Sims then reveals to Langdon the truth about the entire ordeal. Zobrist and Sims had initially teamed up, but Sims did not realize the true nature of Inferno. When Zobrist died, Brooks found Sims and told him about Inferno, which prompted him to help her try and locate it — not realizing her intentions of releasing it. Sims had Langdon drugged, which caused the amnesia and hallucinations, so he would be susceptible to helping Brooks. 

Langdon had originally become involved in Inferno through the WHO. Zobrist wanted the WHO to sanction mass sterilization, which they rejected, and when he died WHO agents found his handheld projector. The projector contained the misaligned picture of Dante's Inferno, prompting the WHO to reach out to Langdon due to his symbologist credentials.

Inferno is finally stopped

While Mr. Sims is revealing the details of everything to Robert Langdon, the director of the World Health Organization, Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey (Sidse Babett Knudsen), meets up with them and embraces Langdon. Langdon and Sinskey had previously been in a relationship, which is also why the WHO chose Langdon to help them. After they explain everything to him, Langdon, Sinskey, and Sims all travel to Istanbul to try and stop the release of Inferno. On the plane, Langdon and Sinskey talk about their past relationship, with both of them expressing regret that it ended.

Once there, they realize that the plan for releasing Inferno is to trigger an explosion underwater at the Basilica Cistern near the Hagia Sophia. Langdon, Sims, and several WHO agents arrive, confronting Brooks and other followers of Zobrist at the Basilica in a violent and bloody shootout. Langdon tries to reason with Brooks about her misguided views, but she believes what she is doing is right and pushes the trigger, causing the underwater explosion.

Luckily, Sinskey is able to secure the bag containing the Inferno pathogen, so that the virus is contained and not released. Sinskey and Langdon have one final conversation outside the Basilica, where they reveal that they still have feelings for each other. They nevertheless decide to part, after sharing one final kiss.