King Arthur: Legend of the Sword arrives in theaters offering a very different take on the classic legend. Director Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Sherlock Holmes) is known for his slick, stylish, frenetic filmmaking, and seeing the tale of King Arthur in that vein certainly is a new experience, to say the least.
In truth, Legend of the Sword is more like an origin story - one that ends on a note which only looks somewhat like the legend that fans know. One of the most exciting changes to the story is no doubt the legend of Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone. Read On for the SPOILERY details of How 'King Arthur' Changed The Legend of the Sword Excalibur.
How the Sword Got in The Stone
In Legend of the Sword, the legendary sword Excalibur is wielded by the noble king, Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana). In a spin on the classic tale, it is Uther (not Arthur) who must face the traitorous mage Mordred; in the film's opening sequence, Mordred uses his magic to lay siege to Camelot - a siege that Uther ends by facing Mordred with Excalibur in hand, with the mythical sword besting Mordred's dark magic.
Uther has barely defeated Mordred and returned peace to Camelot when his brother, Vortigern (Jude Law) betrays him. Vortigern makes a pact with the evil sirens that lurk in the waters surrounding Camelot: by spilling his beloved wife's blood in those waters, Vortigern is rewarded with dark magic powers - powers that allow him to transform into a horrific Grim Reaper creature, wielding a double-bladed scythe.
As Uther tries to escape with his Queen and young prince Arthur, Vortigern/Reaper meets them on the dock, to duel his brother. The Queen is slain in the battle, and Uther ultimately falls, as well.
Before he dies, Uther makes two big sacrifices: 1. Getting his son onto a boat, headed to safety. 2. With his last breaths, he throws Excalibur into the air, kneeling down and allowing it to plunge into his back. The sword's magic turns Uther's body to stone when it penetrates; that stone statue breaks through the docks, and sinks into the waters of Camelot. The enchantment stops Vortigern from being able to claim the sword, and sets into motion Arthur's rise...
How the Sword Gets Out of the Stone
Arthur Pendragon grows up in Londinium without any knowledge of his true, noble, heritage, spending his days as a local gangster and pimp. One night, when a rebel fighter is caught hiding in Arthur's brothel, the would-be gangster is hauled away by Vortigern's men, as he is one of the only men of age who has not tested as the "born king."
When he's hauled off to Camelot, Arthur finds that the waters around the castle have been drained away, revealing the stone prison of Excalibur. Totally unaware of the epic change of fate about to befall him, Arthur swaggers through the crowd and up to the rock to take his turn - only, the sword comes free of the rock when in his hands, flooding Arthur's body with so much mystical power that he passes out.
Over the course of the film, Arthur tries repeatedly to deny his destiny - and at one point we get a nod to Arthurian legend as Arthur tries to throw Excalibur away into a body of water, only to have the mysterious "Lady of the Lake" appear to him and return the sword to his hands. In the end, Arthur accepts his fate and masters Excalibur, and faces his traitorous uncle.
In a fight sequence that looks ripped from a God of War video game, Arthur faces Vortigern/Reaper in combat, and slays him. After that, Arthur becomes the King of legend with a mystical sword, creating The Round Table and knighting his band of friends into being knights.