There they are! The mysterious Moors where no one dares to venture for fear of the magical creatures that lurk within! Well, I say: Crush them!
~ King Henry (to the soldiers, preparing to attack Moors).
A king does not take orders from a winged elf.
~ Henry, mocking Maleficent.
King Henry is the secondary antagonist of the 2014 Disney live-action fantasy film Maleficent. He was introduced as the main antagonist, only to be replaced by King Stefan in the second half after his death. He is the father of Queen Leila, the father-in-law of King Stefan, and the grandfather of Aurora.
He was portrayed by Kenneth Cranham.
Role in the film
Henry was the tyrannical king of a neighboring human kingdom who desired to take over the Moors and claim all of its treasures by force as he led a large army of knights and soldiers in an attempt to conquer it all. But Maleficent, who lived there, stood up to him as the forest's fiercest defender and rallied an army of tree-men like warriors to drive back his forces. King Henry becomes wounded in battle and was gasping and in great pain as he lays on the battlefield helplessly as a weak peasant boy. Before Maleficent could make a choice of letting King Henry go or kill him as she stands over him, he pulled his right arm and touched her shoulder. Maleficent flies back away from King Henry as she realized the royal armor he was wearing was made of iron, the same element harmful to fairies, before King Henry's weakened soldiers rescued their injured monarch and retreated back to their homeland following their defeat in battle.
On his deathbed, after his unsuccessful war against the magical people of the Moors, the King contemplates on his failure to his people that they would take the Moors and its riches since he made that "promise" when he ascended to the throne. He demanded to be avenged and promises whoever kills Maleficent shall become the new king of his country and marry his daughter Lelia. Stefan takes the task by stealing Maleficent's wings and pretending he killed her so he can claim the throne for himself and so he at least succeeded. Seeing Maleficent's wings and believing Stefan's lie, King Henry congratulates him for accomplishing the task and names him his successor. King Henry passes away shortly afterwards and Stefan is crowned as the new King, marrying Queen Leah and conceiving with her Henry's granddaughter, Aurora.
Queen Leila † - Daughter
King Stefan † - Former Subject, Successor and Son-In-Law
Aurora - Granddaughter
King Henry's Soldiers - Former Minions
Maleficent - Attempted Victim and Killer
In the novelization of the film, it was told that King Henry was responsible for the deaths of Maleficent's parents when Maleficent was a child, which would explain Maleficent's hatred towards King Henry. It was also revealed that upon even learning that Stefan has brought Maleficent's wings in person, King Henry just mocked Stefan as he still thinks that he's unfit to rule, which provoked an angry Stefan to smother King Henry on his deathbed before forging himself a royal proclamation to declare himself as King.
This was possibly based on an early version of the film's script, however, as King Henry was clearly depicted in the film fulfilling his promise and naming Stefan his successor. However, as his killing on Maleficent's parents doesn't contradict the film in any ways, it's unknown if that detail can be considered canonical.
King Henry's death has had a major influence in the film.
His death paved the way for King Stefan to become the main antagonist of the film.
After Stefan's betrayal and ascension to the throne, Maleficent planned to have her revenge on King Stefan, resulting in Aurora being cursed.
King Henry is an original character made for the film. In the original 1959 animated film, there was no indication that King Stefan was born in poverty and doesn't specify if Stefan was already a king from birth.
King Henry gets mistaken for Prince Phillip's father "King Hubert" from Disney's Sleeping Beauty by some fans. This is due to that he nearly bears a physical resemblance to the said latter. King Hubert's later appearance in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, albeit renamed as King John, put this confusion to rest.
King Henry is similar to Pharaoh Seti I; they were the original rulers of their kingdom, but ironically served as the secondary antagonists in their respective films. Their deaths paved the way for someone else to take over and become the main antagonist (King Stefan in King Henry's case, Rameses in Seti's case). However, they both served as Bigger Bads because if it weren't for their actions, the plot wouldn't make any sense.
He was portrayed by Kenneth Cranham, who also portrayed Noah Claypole, Mr Sowerberry's thug like apprentice in the 1968 adaptation of Oliver!.
King Henry is the first villain in the Maleficent franchise to die in their first appearance, followed by King Stefan and Gerda.