I desperately want this to happen… A movie based on the last of the Plantagenet dynasty and their desperate bid to hold on to the crown in the Wars of the Roses. Immortalized - and HEAVILY fictionalized by none other than William Shakespeare (who got one of his greatest plays and villains out of it, Richard III) - it’s practically the Thor-Loki conflict only it really happened in history! It’s the real world basis for Game of Thrones as well (a lot of it anyway).
The Plantagenets were described as tall, blonde, handsome warrior kings who made women swoon and men follow them to the death. The four sons of Richard, Duke of York were fated to fight to the death, not only for the crown of England but the survival of their family.
Chris Hemsworth as Prince Edward, Earl of March, later Duke of York and finally King Edward IV of England. (I dunno, the real guy seemed to look like a cross between Stephen Fry and D.B. Sweeney and that kinda doesn’t fit the bill for England’s greatest warrior king since Henry V). Tall, handsome, charming and lusty, Edward was both avenging angel and genius at war on the battlefield but hopelessly hormonal off it. His bedroom antics would undo both his battlefield success and throw the fate of the Plantagenet dynasty into uncertainty.
Liam Hemsworth as Prince George, later Duke of Clarence. Created Duke of Clarence when his brother became king, George was a vain, hard-drinking, constantly scheming, greedy mischief maker who was hopeless at politics and soon to incur his brother’s suspicious wrath.
Tom Hiddleston as Prince Richard, later Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III. The youngest of the Plantagenet brothers, Richard was dark and unassuming compared to his golden-haired brothers but that disguised a complicated personality streaked with fierce loyalty to his eldest brother, his family and his people matched by a bitter ruthlessness that would make heads roll.
Benedict Cumberbach as Prince Henry Twdr, later Earl of Richmond, later King Henry VII, first monarch of the Tudor dynasty. Henry’s Twdr (or Tudor) family sprang from the lonely loins of Katherine, the French princess who was queen and widow of Henry V. Tucked away in Wales, while her husband fought for and eventually died trying to take her father’s throne, Katherine sought comfort in the arms of her handsome Welsh dancing master, Owain Twdr and sired several strong sons. They were, of course, illegitimate but the Tudor boys found protection in the house of another house tainted by bastardy, the Beaufort family, Dukes of Somerset. In time, young Henry Tudor would come to claim for himself the throne of England and challenge the Plantagenets for the crown.
When he came to the throne, Henry VII would marry Edward IV’s daughter to cement his claim to the throne and systematically wipe out the surviving Plantagenet children to prevent any further dynastic challenges. One might say that the cold, calculating and efficient Welshman was ‘a highly functioning sociopath’.
What really attracted me to this casting was the similarity it had to the Thor-Loki-Jane dynamic in Thor 2. Edward, George and Richard had been under the thumb of their powerful uncle (their mother’s brother) Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick - also the most powerful noble in England, so powerful his nickname was Kingmaker! He tried to make their dad, Richard, Duke of York, king but that failed when the Duke of York and Warwick’s dad, Richard, Earl of Salisbury along with the second brother Edmund, Earl of Rutland, were ambushed by Lancastrians outside their family castle in Yorkshire. With their father dead, the Yorkist fortunes fell upon Edward who proved a great battlefield commander if a somewhat indifferent monarch. When he became king, uncle Warwick tried to matchmake-pair him off with very desirable foreign princesses (desirable in terms of diplomatic power/political clout) but Edward surprised everyone by marrying Lady Elizabeth Grey nee Woodville, the widow of (of all things) a Lancastrian knight. Edward argued that it was a conciliatory gesture to the Lancastrians but everyone knew that the older Lady Woodville (a M.I.L.F. if ever there was one - literally) had charmed her way into Edward’s bed through more than politics (though this hardly stopped the lusty Edward’s womanizing!). Lady Woodville - now Queen Elizabeth of England - also brought a very large and very greedy family with her and she began marrying them off to the choicest heirs and scions in the realm. Which pissed most of the old Yorkists especially Warwick, Clarence and Gloucester (Richard) off. Warwick then made a deal with Clarence - join his faction, rise against the Woodvilles and he would get to marry Isobel Neville, his older daughter. So uncle Warwick and younger brother Clarence broke with Edward in clandestine - and soon open - rebellion. The two most powerful Yorkist earls in the west (Wales) - Lord Stafford and Lord Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, were lured into battle at Edgecote Field (both despised each other and refused to support the other in the field) and were both killed in battle. Then another rebellion in Yorkshire showed that Warwick was behind the rebellion shenanigans and the civil war was on again.
Richard resisted the temptation to break with his brother though he despised the Woodvilles and their greed and power-hungry machinations. He fought alongside Edward against his uncle and brother - Clarence soon gave up and came back to Edward’s side humiliated - and at Barnet, uncle Warwick the Kingmaker died. The resurgent Lancastrians under Queen Margaret and Prince Edward (who Warwick had roped into an alliance by marrying Edward to his younger daughter Anne Neville) faced Edward and Richard at Tewkesbury and this time the Lancastrian hopes were utterly crushed.
It was into this weak happy peaceful time that Richard of Gloucester would come into his own. Worn out by love and war, with Clarence scheming for the throne again, word of Lancastrian rebellion in the air again, this time with the exiled Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, Edward IV was a sick man and Elizabeth Woodville and her family stood to inherit all the power in England through control of her young sons by Edward. Richard knew he would have to destroy Elizabeth and her family as well as her Yorkist supporters if the Plantagenets of York were to survive…
Also… there were so many amazing female characters in this time period!
Queen Katherine de Valois - widow of Henry V, her romance with Owain Twdr would give birth to a new dynasty of British monarchs that would conclude with the first of the great English queens, Elizabeth I. It’s actually thanks to Elizabeth I’s connection with a certain Mister Shakespeare that we have a lot of the (heavily skewed to the point of propaganda) images of the Wars of the Roses we have today. Shakespeare was a Tudor apologist and a British nationalist and had no trouble making St.Joan of Arc look like a slut and Richard III look like a fratricidal, psychotic, soliloquizing devil.
Queen Margaret d’Anjou - wife of Henry V’s son, Henry VI. A weak-willed, religious, slightly insane man, Henry VI was dominated by Queen Margaret who became known as The She-Wolf of France. Realizing that she was the power behind the throne, various nobles began to curry her favor - the Beauforts of Somerset, the Pole’s of Suffolk, the Staffords of Buckingham, etc. while the Hundred Years War really began going downhill for England. The once united ‘Band of Brothers’ began to break at the seams as the ‘court party’ began to alienate other powerful nobles including the Duke of York (Richard Plantagenet) and the Earl of Salisbury (Richard Neville - and his son Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, later known as The Kingmaker). When war broke out, as nobles were singled out for assasination on the battlefield or execution by beheading afterwards, the hope for peace rapidly was extinguished and all out war ensued. Margaret was more a soldier than her husband and encouraged her nobles and her son, Prince Edward, to be particularly brutal. When Richard of York and Richard, Earl of Salisbury were captured she had them both executed and a paper crown placed on the Duke of York’s head mounted on the gate of the city of York, so “York could rule over York.” At the disastrous battle of St.Albans, where her husband Henry VI was recaptured along with two Yorkist knights who had been his bodyguards, Queen Margaret asked her son, Edward, what punishment should be exacted upon the two Yorkist knights, Lord Bonville and Sir Thomas Kyriel - the latter a a hero of the recent Hundred Years War. Prince Edward sentenced the two knights to death. She was as much a model for ‘the Queen of Hearts’ as Shakespeare’s “Off with his head” Richard III was.
Elizabeth Woodville - beautiful, sensuous and power hungry, she knew how to bend men to her will. Her father, Richard Woodville, was a handsome, dashing knight who became famous at the European tournaments and swept a beautiful duchess, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, off her feet. She and her entire family were among the most beautiful faces in all of Europe and among the most greedy. Elizabeth’s marriage to Edward was blessed with two sons - Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York (note who Edward named his sons after - himself and his favorite little brother!) and their succession would mean that Elizabeth - not Richard, Duke of Gloucester - would rule England. Thus (to Shakespeare’s mind) Richard III became the precursor to Uncle Scar and sent Simba errrm Edward V and his brother Richard, to the Tower of London from where they would never emerge.
Anne Neville - while very little is known of Anne Neville, I think that Richard (contrary to Shakespeare’s plotting villain) really loved Anne. They had one child together and were heartbroken upon his death. While Shakespeare blames Richard for George of Clarence’s death (I believe it was Edward’s doing or Buckingham’s), Richard actually named George’s son, his nephew Edward of Warwick as his heir, though he later passed him over for the more capable John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, another nephew. While she was made a pawn of her father between the houses of York and Lancaster, I believe that Anne and Richard were a love-match that was doomed, like Romeo and Juliet, to tragedy and untimely death.