Although the death of Tony Stark was devastating for moviegoers, it did wonders for Robert Downey, Jr.’s other franchises. He’s starting off a Dr. Dolittle reboot series next year and Warner Bros. have announced a third movie in his Sherlock Holmes franchise. Downey’s last movie in the role of the iconic Victorian detective was released before the Avengers assembled at the end of the MCU’s Phase 1, after which Downey found himself pretty busy, so the threequel has been a long time coming. With a director hired and a release date set, here's what we know so far about Sherlock Holmes 3.
10 Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law will reprise their roles as Holmes and Watson
Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law have been signed on to reprise their roles as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson in the upcoming threequel, which is a relief. Imagine if one or both of them weren’t coming back – it just wouldn’t be the same. The two have been in contact again recently, since Law got in touch with Downey to get advice on taking a role in the MCU when he was cast to play Yon-Rogg in this year’s Captain Marvel, so it’s clear that their chemistry isn’t just confined to the movies and there’s a real friendship there.
9 Guy Ritchie isn’t returning to direct
Despite the fact that he directed both of the original Sherlock Holmes movies, setting the visual style and characterizing Downey’s version of the title role, Guy Ritchie is not returning to tackle the third one. He’s finished up production on his latest movie, The Gentleman, and his planned sequels to King Arthur: Legend of the Sword aren’t going forward for obvious reasons, so it seems unlikely that scheduling issues are to blame. When Ritchie was asked about his involvement in the third movie, he didn’t have much to say: “You probably know as much as me. I have no idea what’s going on there.” So, his absence from the director’s chair is a mystery.
8 Dexter Fletcher is directing
Dexter Fletcher has been hired to direct the third Sherlock Holmes movie for Warner Bros. and Team Downey. Fletcher’s most recent work has been in flamboyant music biopics. When Bryan Singer left Bohemian Rhapsody because the #MeToo movement was giving him panic attacks, Fletcher jumped in to finish the film and led it to storm the Oscars.
This year, he directed Rocketman, the glitzy musical based on the life of Elton John. Sherlock Holmes 3 will mark a huge departure for the director. Funnily enough, while Guy Ritchie isn’t directing Sherlock Holmes 3, his replacement Fletcher did have an acting role in Ritchie’s film Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.
7 It’ll be released on December 22, 2021
Warner Bros. have set the release date for Sherlock Holmes 3 for December 22, 2021. The previous two Sherlock Holmes movies were released in December around the holiday season and they both grossed over $500 million, so as the saying goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In December 2021, the threequel will face stiff competition from Avatar 2 (if it actually makes it to that release slot, since it’s been delayed a million times before – it was supposed to be released in 2015!), Hotel Transylvania 4, and the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Wicked. Still, with Robert Downey, Jr. starring, it shouldn’t have too much trouble standing out in the crowd.
6 Susan Downey is aware that fans will only wait so long
When Sherlock Holmes 3 arrives in 2021, it’ll be a full decade since we last saw Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law as Holmes and Watson on the big screen. Producer Susan Downey (wife of Robert Downey, Jr. and co-founder of the couple’s production company Team Downey) is aware that fans have had to wait a long time and the team has been committed to getting the movie to them as soon as possible, but not without a great script: “At a certain point, it’s going to be too long – we’ve waited too long. We’re working as fast and responsibly as we can to get a great script.”
5 It doesn’t have a title yet
The third Sherlock Holmes movie doesn’t have a proper title at the moment. It’s known only as Sherlock Holmes 3, but there’s a good chance that will change. The trend right now, thanks to the MCU, is to follow the title of the franchise with a colon and a subtitle. The second movie in Downey’s Sherlock Holmes franchise had the awesome subtitle A Game of Shadows (which was original to the film and not taken from one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories), so it seems unlikely that the title Sherlock Holmes 3 will stick – that’s just what it’s being called for the time being.
4 The story is about Holmes and Watson’s co-dependent relationship
Despite the fact that Holmes’ name is the only one in the title, the Sherlock Holmes stories have always been about the eponymous detective’s relationship with his sidekick (and chronicler of his cases), Dr. John Watson. Jude Law, who plays Watson alongside Downey’s Holmes in the Warner Bros. movies, has said that in the third one, “the essence of the story is their co-dependency.”
This co-dependent element has been explored in the previous films, with Holmes disrupting Watson’s romantic relationships, but it’s focused more heavily on how Holmes needs Watson and not on why Watson also needs Holmes. The threequel’s the thing...
3 A ton of writers have worked on the script
The third Sherlock Holmes movie has been in development since 2011, and in that time, a bunch of writers have rolled in and out of Warner Bros.’ offices to tamper with the script. The most recent hire was Chris Brancato (one of the credited creators of Netflix’s Narcos), but other writers have included Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Captain Marvel), Gary Whitta (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy), Drew Pearce (Hobbs & Shaw), and Justin Haythe (A Cure for Wellness). A handful of lesser-known screenwriters – including Justin Malen, James Coyne, and Kieran Fitzgerald – have also done rewriting work on various drafts.
2 The movie is rumored to be set in Old West San Francisco
The third Sherlock Holmes movie will reportedly take Holmes and Watson across the Atlantic Ocean to Old West-era America, with the story taking place in San Francisco. This is reminiscent of how the sequel to western comedy Shanghai Noon took the characters to foggy, old-timey London in Shanghai Knights (just going the other way across the pond with the location change). As the report hasn’t been confirmed and comes from an unnamed source, the Californian setting of the plot is considered to be nothing more than a rumor at this point, but it would be a refreshing change of pace for the iconic detective duo.
1 The team is committed to making it better than the first two
While the first two Sherlock Holmes films were popular among moviegoers, they received mixed reviews from critics and diehard Holmes fans were less than impressed. Jude Law has said of the threequel, “We want it to be better than the other two. We want to make sure it’s smarter and cleverer, but in the same realm. It’s a slow process. We’re all busy. So, getting us together to try to nail that has taken a little bit longer than we had hoped...I hate celebrating anything I’ve done, but I’m so proud of those films. I think it was [producer] Joel Silver who said, ‘Take it out of that dusty room and put it on the street.’”