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Angels & Demons Ending, Explained

December 1, 2020
6 min read

‘Angels & Demons’ is a mystery thriller based on Dan Brown’s novel of the same name. The story encapsulates the age-old fight between religion and science. While it does take liberties with many historical and theological annals, there is no denying that the movie reels you in Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, and Ayelet Zurer, the film is one you must check out. If you’ve already done so and are curious about the ending, then we have got your back. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Angels & Demons Plot Synopsis

Dr. Vittoria Vetra works as a scientist at CERN and is part of a confidential project that involves creating antimatter (or the God particle). However, one day, her colleague – Father Silvano Bentivoglio – is murdered, and a canister of antimatter is also stolen. On the other hand, four Cardinals are kidnapped from the Vatican hours before the conclave is set to begin. The perpetrators allege to be the Illuminati, the famous secret society that comprises intellectuals.

In a video clip, they state that they will execute each Cardinal every hour, starting at 8 pm. Following this, the antimatter will explode and destroy the Vatican. The Harvard professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, is brought in to help crack the case. Along with Vittoria and some officials, he embarks on a journey to prevent the unthinkable before it is too late.

Angels & Demons Ending

Most Cardinals want the Camerlengo to be appointed as Pope following the heroic escapade in which he saves the city from the antimatter blast. The guards ask him to join the other Cardinals in conclave after his wounds are treated. Back at Commander Richter’s office, Vittoria retrieves Father Silvano’s journals, which is when a hidden screen pops up. With the help of the key that the now-dead Vatican security official gave him, Robert and his partner rewind the security footage and determine that the Camerlengo is the man behind the plan.

During an altercation, the holy man told the commander that the God particle was sacrilegious and that the former Pope should never have supported it. Father McKenna even claimed that he was saving the religion from “internal threats.” He then took the branding iron and placed it on his own chest, making it seem as though Richter was attacking him. Robert and Vittoria show this clip to Cardinal Strauss.

When the Camerlengo goes to the conclave, he realizes that his secret is out of the bag. Although he tries to escape, he sets himself on fire when he sees no other option. Nonetheless, while it is announced that Father McKenna has died, they don’t reveal the truth, and people want him to be declared a saint. White smoke emerges from the building, indicating that a new Pope has finally been chosen. It is none other than Cardinal Baggia of Italy, who adopts the name Pope Luke I.

Cardinal Strauss is now the new Camerlengo. He gives Robert ‘Diagramma Veritatis’ as a thank you. However, he requests that the book find its way back home to the Vatican in the professor’s final will. Cardinal Strauss also tells Robert that God had sent him to protect the church, even though the academic does not feel the same way. In the end, the new Pope subtly acknowledges Robert and Vittoria before heading out on the balcony and greeting the crowd below.

Father McKenna’s Motives Are More Personal Than Religious 

‘Angels & Demons’ is a film that touts a central conflict between the Illuminati and the Catholic Church. As such, the plot becomes all the more potent when it is revealed that Father Patrick McKenna is the man behind the attack on the church and is working under the guise of the secret organization. It’s almost as if this facet of the story adds another dimension to the faith versus science dispute taking place within the movie.

The previous Pope, who was also the Camerlengo’s adoptive father, had invited Father Silvano Bentivoglio to present antimatter as proof of the divine existence to the whole world. But the Camerlengo feels that this claim is entirely laughable and arrogant, so he kills his own father and orchestrates this entire plan to make the Cardinals feel as though Christianity is under attack. The narrative of the weakening of faith and how the God particle challenges the existence of God is presented as the rationale behind the Camerlengo’s decisions.

However, it seems highly unlikely that Father McKenna is motivated simply by theological factors. The burning passion that he brings to his mission has to be fueled by something more personal. In the end, it becomes evident that the Camerlengo has hatched the entire scheme to increase his popularity and be regarded for the papacy. After all, he is the one that puts the canister of antimatter in Saint Peter’s tomb only to dispose of it in the helicopter.

Everyone is in awe of Father McKenna’s apparent selflessness, and the Cardinals even want him to become the Pope by acclamation. If it weren’t for Vittoria and the journals she wishes to retrieve, Father McKenna’s plan would not have come into the limelight, and he could have definitely become the next Pope. Given the power that the papal office holds, especially in Vatican City, it is clear that he never wanted to stop a “blasphemous” revelation. This is also why he kills himself rather than be tried for his crimes and repent his sins.

Throughout the movie, people such as Cardinal Strauss and Commander Richter do reiterate that even though Father McKenna is the Camerlengo, his power is only temporary, until a new Pope is elected. Plus, given that he is the adoptive son of the previous leader, he would have faced many moments in life where people would have attributed the Camerlengo’s success only to the father. This could have made the holy man resent them and prove his worth once and for all by taking the highest office in the Catholic world, even if he isn’t ready for it.

There’s no denying that Father McKenna is a smart man who has also seen a fair share of the world as a former military man. The genius of his plan is that he eliminates his competition, the Preferiti, all while hiding behind the centuries-old battle of ideology and knowledge. If luck were on his side, he could have become the next Pope easily. Although this is what he has wanted all along, suffice it to say that under Father McKenna’s leadership, the amicable relationship between faith and science would have been under attack, leading to more volatility.

Read More: Is Angels & Demons a True Story?

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