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We May Know The Main Villain In Sherlock Holmes 3

It's time to put our deductive deerstalkers on: rumors have begun floating that the as-yet untitled Sherlock Holmes 3 has its villain. HN Entertainment put up the rumor first, but it's also been reported by sites such as We Got This Covered and ScreenRant, so this particular bit of speculation is picking up some significant steam. 

Those evergreen straw men Anonymous Sources (somebody please start a band by this name) are saying that Holmes and Watson will be traveling to America, specifically San Francisco, in the threequel centered on the world-famous detective. Said sources also indicate that the pair's nemesis across the pond will be named Senator Cornelius Guest, a man obsessed with stealing gold.

Official word on this project is still incredibly scarce, as it's been languishing in pre-production for close to a decade due to Robert Downey Jr.'s rather crowded, mostly Marvel-related film schedule. The time is now ripe for speculation, though, as production is slated to begin in January 2020. Is there any merit, much less substance, to this rumor flitting around the internet? Will we see the immortal detective get a little Wild West yeehaw-tastic for our viewing pleasure?

This Sherlock Holmes 3 rumor can't be confirmed or disproved

The great thing about movie rumors before principal photography begins is that the imagination has no limits. Without an official cast beyond those we know are returning (RDJ and Jude Law as Holmes and Watson, respectively), anybody could be cast, and all films need a villain, right?

The fact of the matter is that there is nothing to disprove this rumor, but nothing exists to confirm it, either. It's entirely possible that the name "Senator Cornelius Guest" is a cover to maintain secrecy, and it's worth mentioning the fact that Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows included the iconic Reichenbach Fall scenario (as prominently featured in the BBC's Sherlock series), in which Holmes and his arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty were both presumed dead. 

The scenario was inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes tale "The Final Problem," and it's one that historically, the detective always survives. Moriarty, though, historically does not, though we shouldn't immediately assume that Game of Shadows' version of the character (Jared Harris) couldn't possibly return.

The Sherlock Holmes 3 script has passed through many, many hands in the years RDJ has been occupied wearing the Iron Man suit, so all bets are off as to exactly where it's going to land, plot-wise. It's quite possible that a draft has at some point existed bringing Holmes to America, but is it the final one? Who knows? Nothing is certain until new director Dexter Fletcher (taking over from Guy Ritchie) or studio Warner Bros. makes an official announcement.

Has Sherlock Holmes gone to America in any canonical stories?

Just because there are lingering questions about the rumor's veracity doesn't mean we can't all have some speculative fun here, however. To the casual eye reviewing the rumor, it might feel a touch shark-jumpy to have the English detective appear in America, dealing with an American antagonist. Canonical precedent around Holmes and America does exist, though — albeit in complicated ways. 

There is no American character in Holmes canon that was a senator, much less one named Cornelius Guest. Arthur Conan Doyle never sent him to America on a case, though it is implied that after throwing himself off of Reichenbach Falls with Moriarty, he spent some time overseas before coming back to give Watson the shock of his life by still being alive.

Speaking specifically to the American West, Doyle's first Holmes novel A Study In Scarlet features several American characters and an extended flashback of their lives within the Mormon church in and around Utah. Other parts of America feature in several other canonical Holmes stories, as well. Doyle had his own personal fascination with America (and the Mormons, which is why they ended up in A Study In Scarlet), and cited famous American detective and friend William J. Burns as "the American Sherlock Holmes" as a compliment to his work. 

Holmes' last name, in fact, is a direct homage to famous American poet Oliver Wendell Holmes. From there, we can point to a substantial amount of non-canon stories that actually did take Holmes to America; since the great detective is a public domain character, anybody can do anything with him.

The previous movies didn't directly adapt Sherlock Holmes stories

It also helps to consider that Ritchie had never been interested in directly adapting specific Holmes stories; if we had to pick a phrase, "inspired by characters" from the stories would be the most fitting description of his two Holmes movies. Both of those films plucked up the characters we're most likely to recognize and remixed them with semi-historical context; for example, the first flick's villain Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) seems suspiciously like an off-brand version of Jack the Ripper.

Ritchie's films were also interested in making reference to the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself. Holmes paid the bills for Doyle, and ultimately made him very wealthy — but he never, ever loved Holmes the way the public did (and continues to), and he was forever bitter that no one cared about his books about history, fairies, and spiritualism — his true passions — they way they did about his detective stories. Ritchie incorporated a lot of occult concepts and historical remixes into these stories as his own kind of homage, which might have been lost on average viewers — many of whom would be quite unaware of the (pretty freaking bonkers) life that Doyle lived. 

It remains to be seen whether Fletcher will have similar stylistic preferences, and until we get some kind of official word, we have no way of knowing for sure if the rumor mill has spit out an accurate nugget this time. We're going to go ahead and categorize this one as a firm "maybe" — and of course, once official news breaks about the plot and setting of Sherlock Holmes 3 (not to mention its actual title), we'll be here to cover it.