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Death… is only the beginning.
~ Lord Blackwood's most famous line.

Lord Henry Blackwood is the main antagonist of the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes.

He was portrayed by Mark Strong, who also played Frank D'Amico in Kick-Ass, Thaddeus Sivana in Shazam!, Pinbacker in Sunshine, and Prince Septimus in Stardust.

Personality

Blackwood was arrogant, egotistical and callous. He was insidiously reclusive and had a tendency to brag that he was cleverer than Sherlock Holmes. He was very intelligent and had a talent for science and illusions, specializing in physics and biology. He was treacherous and his callousness is evident when he self-righteously murdered John Standish to complete the pattern of his plan and to gain the trust of his fellow conspirators at the Temple.

Ironically, his last words were "It's a long journey from here to the rope!", but only seconds later he ended up falling from the construction site of the Tower Bridge during his climatic face-off with Sherlock Holmes, a chain curled around his neck and severed his spine, choking him that his neck broke at once.

Biography

Background and Arrest

Sir Thomas stated that he conceived Lord Blackwood with one of the women used in their rituals, not his wife. As he grew up, Blackwood becomes an evil person since his youth, and aspires to use the Temple of Four Orders' resources to dominate the world.

To achieve such a goal, he become an infamous mass murderer and occultist. However, in his latest ritual seen at the beginning of the film, Blackwood was eventually arrested by the police with both Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watts help. During the arrest, he nearly sacrificed a girl in a ritual which thwarted by Holmes and Dr. Watts. Blackwood attempted to give a final resistance when cornered with a long but thin glass spike on Dr. Watts, but is stopped by Holmes who was looking for the said spike. Just then, Lestrade and his men came and criticized Holmes for their recklessness whilst they took Blackwood away. Holmes argued that had they chosen to go with him together, the rescue attempt would have likely failed and they were hired by the girl's parents.

Request to Summon Holmes

During his stay in prison, he seemingly cast a spell on one of the wardens which caused the man to suffer the painful possession. This of course, caused the uproar in the whole prison due to the fact that the prison inmates greatly feared Blackwood and became panic, afraid to suffer the same fate. After the staff took away the possessed warden to the infirmary, the other warden cautiously asked Blackwood why he did this, and Blackwood replies that he wanted to meet Sherlock Holmes.

When Sherlock Holmes came for his cells, he spoke incantations and praying, with the cell's walls full of occult carvings. Blackwood was undaunted by the fact that he would be executed via hanging for his crimes, and scare him by stating that he underestimates what would happen in the future: Three more will die and whatever happens, this was beyond what the eccentric detective would comprehend nor handle.

Execution and Supposed "Resurrection"

He was then sentenced to be executed by hanging, with Dr. Watts invited to check his body's condition after the execution. With no pulse on his veins, Dr. Watts concludes that he has died. However, a few days after his execution, Blackwood was reported to rise from the dead with the tomb seemingly destroyed from the inside by the immense force. The police, Dr. Watts, and Holmes were baffled with how this could happen. Whilst the police pulled the coffin out and Watts is busily creating the seemingly catatonic witness, Holmes examines the piece of rubble and even tastes it, in which he tastes something that appeared to be some sort of Egyptian adhesive made from the mixture of egg and honey that can be washed away by the rain.

When the police checked the coffin, instead of Blackwood's body, they found a small man whose body was already rotten and has been murdered 12 hours ago. The man is later revealed to be Reordan, in which Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watts goes to investigate his workshop. They later discovered many experiments under Blackwood's proposal for his next trickery in the workshop, but they unexpectedly also met Blackwood's thugs who arrived to destroy the workshop. The battle ensues, which unfortunately, also caused damages in the nearby harbor that led them into trouble with the police.

Sir Thomas and Standish's Assassination

Not long after Holmes had unexpected meetings with leaders of Temple of the Four Orders (secret magical fraternity with considerable political influence) where they asked his help to stop Blackwood. Blackwood seemingly cursed water that Sir Thomas (one of Temple of the Four Order's leasers) used to take a bath in his bathtub, causing him to lose consciousness and drown, allowing Blackwood to take his ring. An investigation was held on the murder site on the next day. Holmes notices that the bathtub was drained by the constable out of respect, and feels that they might have unknowingly disposed of a possible clue from the water. After the last constable leaves the room, Sherlock begins tapping on the walls, and finally finds a latch that allows him to open up a hidden door. Behind the door is a small space with magic tools/symbols/etc. Holmes rifles through the items and picks up two skulls and a book of spells, which he slips into his coat pocket, believing that it might be helpful someday. As the constables come back into the room, he asks them if they've found the powder. They say yes and he leaves.

That night on the same day, Ambassador Standish, the ambassador to the United States, arrives at a nondescript building that night. Standish is greeted by Lord Coward and other members of the Order, who inform him that Sir Thomas is dead. Coward then tells him that they're voting on a new leader, and has already appointed Lord Blackwood. Standish seems stunned, but Coward says that this is the natural order of things, and stating that Blackwood now powerful enough to make Britain regain its past glory, including winning back to the US. Blackwood appears, and says that the US is currently embroiled in post-Civil War turmoil and is ripe for the taking. He then sits down in the leader's chair.

Standish says that he will not stand for this, and decides to shoot Blackwood instead. Blackwood suggests he not do so. Standish ignores it, and pulls the trigger, and instantly bursts into flames, which shocks the other members. Standish leaps out the window and falls to his death, while Coward urges the other members to drink to their new leader. By this point, other members believe that he indeed gained dark powers and believed him.

Demoralizing Dr. Holmes

The following night, Watson and Holmes go for a meat factory near the Thames with clues that they gained from one of the bad guys that they fought previously. Upon their arrival, they found another lab similar to Reordan's as it full of scientific equipment, and a biblical quotation that refers to the end. As Holmes and Watson stalk around, Lord Blackwood, who has expecting their arrival whilst keeping himself hidden in shadows, warned Holmes that all of this would happen. Holmes and Watson back up against the wall with their weapons brandished, but they can't figure out where the voice is coming from. Blackwood's face suddenly appears in a crack in the wall behind Holmes and Watson, and both men jump, turn around and shoot at the noise.

However, Blackwood manages to get away, but not before revealed he has kidnapped Irene Adler to deter his plans as much as them and tied her up to the pig line for being butchered alive and packed, surrounded by flames. The duo managed to save Adler, and chases Blackwood. Unfortunately, Blackwood has prepared a booby-trap in the form of explosives with a wire as a trigger for the bomb: Due to him hitting a tripwire by accident, Watts yelled at Holmes to stop before a series of explosions rips through the building. Watson and Holmes are separated by blasts, so Holmes grabs Irene and tries to shield her to the best of ability. The explosions go on for some time, and Holmes finally blacks out. When Holmes finally comes to, the constable from earlier (the one that summoned him to Blackwood's grave and escorted him to Sir Thomas's murder scene) is shaking him. He tells Holmes that Lord Coward has utilized his powers and issued a warrant for Holmes's arrest. He also informs Holmes that Watson's doing okay, but Holmes must flee immediately. Holmes gets up and begins to run.

By this point, it seemed that Blackwood won, having successfully demoralized Holmes by nearly killed Watts with the explosions. For a moment, Holmes did lose hope and blamed himself for Watts' injuries, so much that he disguised as one of the doctors to aid him to nurse him back to health. This, however, doesn't last longer than Blackwood intended: While coping with the setbacks and misfortunes, Holmes, whom recalling everything he found so far, realized that the only way for achieving a breakthrough of the case was by understanding the kind of magic that Blackwood supposedly used with help of Temple of Four Order's spellbook and other mystical equipment that he took earlier. Not only that, Holmes later allowed himself to be arrested so he can get closer to Lord Coward and deduced Blackwood's grand schemes through Coward's belongings before escaped.

Final Showdown And Final Death

As Holmes gets the scope of Blackwood's evil plan, Houses of Parliament started the meeting with Lord Coward announces the return of Lord Blackwood to the disdain, fear, and disgust of most of the room. Blackwood says that they need to join together, and believers will revive England, etc., and claimed that he has summoned dark powers to aid him in his cause as well as guaranteed that all non-believers will perish. Parliament members then started to leave, but members of the Order make to stand at the doors and link arms, to prevent everyone else from leaving. It seemed that Blackwood intended to summon death fog that spew out from air vents, but he activating a machine loaded with poison gas. As he pressed the button, nothing happened: The machine was rigged by Holmes, Watts, and Adler after a brief struggle, with Adler, goes to take the machine away and flees, somehow ended up on the scaffolding for a partially completed Tower Bridge. Blackwood notices her and give chase before catching up with her, took the machine away, and knocked her onto another scaffolding piece below.

With only Holmes stood against him, Blackwood and the eccentric detective fought, and Holmes managed to have Blackwood on his mercy with a rope tied on one his legs which connected to a log that fell onto the water below due to the fight and weighed him, resulting in his hold on the wooden floor for his dear life. Taking his time, Holmes tells Blackwood that he figured out that all of Blackwood's "magic" is just well-plotted scientific tricks(see Blackwood's Schemes below) before saving him by cutting the rope with an axe so that he would be hanged again.

Blackwood's death

Blackwood's death.

Blackwood, undaunted, reaches for the axe to kill Holmes, but damages they inflicted onto the surrounding area due to the fight triggers chain reaction that caused him trips off a scaffolding and landed onto chains that supporting scaffoldings below. As Holmes watches, the chains unable to hold his weight and he fell. To make matter worse, one of the chains unexpectedly ensnared his neck and as a result, Blackwood was hanged to his death. The death was ironic, considering the plans for the original execution.

Abilities

  • High Intelligence: Blackwood has a genius level intellect when it comes to cunning tactics and fearmongering.
    • Occultism: Blackwood is a genius mastermind who excels in science and occult, with his schemes throughout the film revolving around an ancient Mystical System.
    • Master Orchestrator: Blackwood is a skillful orchestrator, having masterminded the deaths of his father, John Standish, Reordan and five women in convincing 'satanic' ways.
    • Showmanship: Blackwood displayed remarkable skill in managing his performances as a master manipulator, having attained enough reputation and fear from other people to make everyone convinced that he had summoned dark powers.
    • Intimidation Skills: His reputation, showmanship and magic tricks caused most, if not all of London to believe he was a powerful sorcerer. Even when Holmes visited him in prison, he used incredible intimidation skills to make even Holmes feel insecure.
  • Vast Resources: He had a considerable amount of wealth and resources in order to pay off his minions and fund Reordan's scientific experiments that resemble magic.
  • Magic Tricks: Despite his familiarity with Temple of Four Order's mystical arts, he lacked necessary power to utilize the craft at its fullest for his grand scheme in the film, prompting him to rely on mental trickery, fearmongering tactics, and highly sophisticated scientific equipment for such feats and making him nothing more than a fraud as Holmes stated. Out of all magic tricks below, Holmes stated that Standish's death was the most difficult to solve until he discovered the means he blowed up the same wharf and injured his best friend Dr. Watts in process.
    • Possession: Had a subordinate paying one of the guard to pretend to suffer seizure and possession so he can have Holmes visited him as a last request. The trick was successful thanks to his reputation and the whole inmate's fear on him.
    • Resurrection: Faking his death by having a clip on his noose that shifted the weight to his waist and consume a Turkish Potent Paralytic that suppressed his pulse to almost a halt, while keeping him alive in a comatose state. The said drug was potent enough that Dr. Watts was unable to sense his pulse.
    • Superhuman Force: He had limestone outside his grave shattered before glued together by ancient Egyptian adhesive made of mixture of egg and honey that can be washed away by the rain. The adhesive itself was previously made and tested at Luke Reordan's lab by Reordan himself prior to his assassination. The damage done on the limestone was made to made it looked as if it was shattered by supernatural force. Assuming that the watchman who allegedly witnessed his resurrection did not paid to pretend to be catatonic from the event, Blackwood personally shattered the repaired limestone in the middle of the rain from the inside to make it much more convincing.
    • Drowning: Sir Thomas's bath powder was mixed with unique paralytic concoctions that, upon contact with copper (in this case Thomas's ring) and water, will trigger a chain reaction that resulting water become full of sedative substances, which explained how Sir Thomas lost consciousness and drowned to his death. Since the substances perfectly mixed with water, the concoctions won't leave traces when the water drained.
    • Spontaneous Combustion: The Ambassador Standish wasn't killed by spontaneous combustion-inducing spells, but rather through the use of flammable chemicals showered upon him via sprinkle which ignited by sparks from a rigged bullet. Holmes remarked that the use of sprinkler was clever enough for the ambassador to mistake it as rain.
    • Cyanide Gas: The magic he would use to kill his opponents in Parliament. He planned to use a chemical weapon based on cyanide and refined in the belly of dead swines in a slaughter house. The reason the Order members wouldn't have been poisoned by gas emitted from his machine is because Blackwood had them drink the antidote to the poison after the ambassador was killed. The antidote was disguised as holy water that they drank together after Standish's demise.

Known Victims

  1. Susan Willis, 18, of Bethnal Green (killed via sacrifice ritual prior to events in film)
  2. Margaret Coils, 20, of Spitalfields (killed via sacrifice ritual prior to events in film)
  3. Jane Gray, 21, of Whitechapel (killed via sacrifice ritual prior to events in film)
  4. Mary Wilson, 19, of White City (killed via sacrifice ritual prior to events in film)
  5. Sarah Moss, 22, of Whitechapel (killed via sacrifice ritual prior to events in film)
  6. Beatrice Church (Supposed to be killed via satanic ritual; saved by Holmes at the beginning of the film)
  7. Luke Reordan (Killed to leave no evidence; used earth/dirt)
  8. Sir Thomas Rotheram (Killed with sedative mixture; used water)
  9. American Ambassador John Standish (Killed by combustion; used fire)
  10. British Parliament (Intended to kill them using a powerful poison gas; planned to use air)

Trivia

  • The actor who played Blackwood was Mark Strong for the roles of Frank D'Amico and Sinestro for his role of villains.
  • Blackwood has similar looks to Count Dracula.
  • While Lord Blackwood is an original character, it is possible that his name is inspired from the main antagonist of The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone, none other than Count Negretto Sylvius. Negre and Silvi mean Black and Wood.
  • Blackwood's obsession with spiritualism is possibly a reference to Conan Doyle's own occult eccentricity. The way his "magic" is revealed to be nothing more than trickery and elaborate science mirrors the confusion of The Hound of the Baskervilles.
  • Since Sir Thomas conceived Blackwood with one of the women he used for his rituals and not his wife, Blackwood is the product of an affair.
  • Blackwood sits on a throne with the Hebrew word Shleimut (שלמות), meaning "Perfection".
  • Blackwood's last kills were meant to look like elementalism, as he killed his father with water, Reordan with earth, John Standish with fire and planned to kill off British Parliament with air.

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