'Angels & Demons' Cheat Sheet: We Decode 'Da Vinci Code' Sequel

Everything you need to know, from how a prequel became a sequel to who's back for more adventures.

Clues, riddles and puzzles — oh my!

Brainy Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon ([movieperson id="82404"]Tom Hanks[/movieperson]) has been studying up on religious arcana and witty one-liners. In [movie id="330488"]"Angels & Demons,"[/movie] the sequel to 2006's "The Da Vinci Code," Langdon arrives in Rome just after the pope has died and the papal-succession ritual has been disrupted because four key cardinals have been kidnapped. The Illuminati, an ancient enemy of the Catholic Church, claim responsibility and threaten to turn Vatican City to dust by detonating a stolen clump of experimental antimatter. It's up to Langdon to decipher archaic symbols, unlock long-buried secrets and avoid all manner of double-crossing evildoers before everything goes kablooey.

But relax! MTV News has done some code-breaking of our own and presents the official "Angels & Demons" Cheat Sheet — all the backstory, interviews, videos and inside info you'll need to follow Langdon at breakneck speed through churches, crypts and catacombs.

Remember the "Code"

A little-known author named Dan Brown published a book called "The Da Vinci Code" in 2003, and it went on to dominate the New York Times bestseller list for the next two years. As far back as 2004, MTV News had its eye on the movie adaptation, reporting that Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard were in talks to join the action.

The film hit theaters in 2006 and followed Langdon as he scampered from a murder investigation in Paris' Louvre to a quest to crack the riddles in Da Vinci's paintings. He ended up in the middle of a centuries' old Christian conspiracy involving luminaries like Isaac Newton and the existence of a present-day bloodline from Christ himself. The international all-star cast included Audrey Tautou ("Amelie"), Ian McKellen ("The Lord of the Rings" trilogy), Alfred Molina ("Spider-Man 2"), Paul Bettany ("A Beautiful Mind") and Jean Reno ("Hotel Rwanda").

"Da Vinci Code" reeled in $77 million during its opening weekend and went on to gross more than $750 million worldwide.

Turning "Angels & Demons" Into a Sequel

Naturally, a sequel to the mega-blockbuster was a sure thing. The only problem was that Brown hadn't written another book yet. Luckily, he'd penned another Langdon thriller in 2000 called "Angels & Demons." Insert a couple of clever lines of dialogue, and presto! — "A&D" became a sequel to "Code," rather than the other way around.

Late last year, we spoke to screenwriter David Koepp about his work on the adaptation. "What's interesting is now [Langdon's] not a new character to us, we've met him before," Koepp said. "And what I was thinking going into it is he's now like Sherlock Holmes; this is a detective — in this case of history and literature, science and art — who they come to with these impossible-to-solve mysteries, which he solves using his erudition. And I thought that was really fun."

Recently, Hanks told us Langdon is a hero who relies on "synapses in the brain as opposed to reflexes in the muscle." Still, he's confident the symbologist could take down Holmes — as well as other iconic big-screen adventurers — in a fight.

The Stars

In May 2007, almost exactly a year after "Code" came out, Hanks and Howard entered final negotiations to reprise their respective roles in "A&D." Once they signed on, the rest of the cast began to gather: Ewan McGregor as the deceased Pope's right-hand man, Stellan Skarsgård as commander of the pope-protecting Swiss Guard and Ayelet Zurer as a brilliant antimatter researcher.

The Spectacle

For the film's worldwide premiere, Hanks, Howard and the rest of the core cast traveled to Rome. "Code" had encountered criticism from the Catholic Church, and this time around, a studio-sponsored event was scuttled by the Vatican-owned property at which it was set to take place.

The Visions

The first peeks at anything "A&D"-related began to trickle out last year, and in June, MTV News revealed the film's poster. Since then, we've debuted heart-pounding clips set in the secretive Vatican archives, the Sistine Chapel and other memorable Roman sites.

The Future

Last month, Brown's publisher announced that a third Langdon book, "The Lost Symbol," would hit bookshelves in September. Could a third Langdon film be far behind? Not so fast, Howard told us recently. "Dan [Brown] is a fantastic guy and a great conversationalist, until you ask him about the next Robert Langdon book," he said. "I don't know any more than anyone that's checked on the Internet!"

Will the vampires grab more trophies than the slumdog? What was the year's ultimate onscreen WTF moment? It's up to you to decide the winners of the 2009 MTV Movie Awards. Vote now, and tune in on May 31 at 9 p.m. ET, when the big show airs live from the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, California.

Check out everything we've got on "Angels & Demons."

For breaking news, celebrity columns, humor and more — updated around the clock — visit MTVMoviesBlog.com.