His Eminence is supposed to provide spiritual guidance for the people of France and their King, but instead plots and schemes for money and power and most of all, planning to assassinate the young King Louis XIII so he could take the throne for himself. He and the Duke of Buckingham are political allies and Anne is a target of his lustful passion. He is also not above killing people himself; despite having tried killing Aramis with a gun. This is the only adaptation where Richelieu is killed off.
Role in the film
The ruthless Cardinal's self-serving conduct and his association with the wicked Captain Rochefort provide plenty of underhanded resistance against everything King Louis is trying to accomplish in his own country. The Cardinal, meanwhile, hopes to reach an agreement with England's Duke of Buckingham to bring their two countries together under their power. Installed as the religious and political leader of the nation, the Cardinal believes he can be unstoppable. Before that can happen, however, the King's guards have something to say about that.
The Musketeers have served the throne for years, but upon Rochefort's orders to disband the guard, there appears to be no stopping the Cardinal's evil plans. Enter The Three Musketeers: Aramis, Athos, and Porthos. They defy the Cardinal by keeping the Musketeers' spirit alive and together with a young Musketeer wannabe, D'Artagnan, thwart his plans to bring the secret alliance with England to bear. However, the plans are more elaborate than they first believed: the Cardinal plans to have the King assassinated as well.
Rushing home to France, the Three Musketeers and D'Artagnan foil the assassination attempt. The Musketeers reunite with their guard brothers to fight off the Cardinal's loyal guards and storm the castle, where the King and Queen are being held. At one point, the Cardinal himself pulls out a gun and shoots Aramis, allowing for an escape attempt. In the end, though, Aramis would return to capture the "man of God" and the King himself would punch his lights out.
Cardinal Richelieu admits freely to those he hopes to ensnare how much of a man he is, a man driven by greed, power, and lust. He schemes to get his hands on everything and everyone and does not abide failure or dissent. He is not as charming as he thinks he is, but he certainly is intimidating. And his years in the service of France and God have taught him a thing or two, particularly: you don't want the Musketeers in your way. It's a pity for him that he couldn't execute his plans - and his King - in time.