Aramis is the third member in order of the Three Musketeers from Alexandre Dumas Pere's novel LE TROIS MOUSQUETAIRES/THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1844). With his fellow Musketeers Athos and Porthos, Aramis makes a dueling enemy and then a comrade out of the young D'Artagnan. Aramis is a rather complex character. A deeply religious man with priestly ambitions, he is nevertheless a swordsman experienced in killing and a libertine who engages in passionate romances with beautiful women. Like his fellow Musketeers, Aramis would appear in Dumas' sequels VINGT ANS APRES/ TWENTY YEARS AFTER and LE VICTOME DE BRAGELONNE or OU DIX ANS PLUS TARD/THE VICTOME DE BRAGELONNE or TEN YEARS AFTER, which is also entitled THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK.
In films, Aramis is sometimes the most neglected of the Musketeers, limited to just being there for appearances' sake (In the 1939 20th Century-Fox/Ritz Brothers version, he gets quickly defeated and impersonated by one of the Three Lackeys). Even the loose adaptations of THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK- whose source material has Aramis driving the plot- are also guilty of the same thing. The following films give Aramis a major role.
The 1974 Richard Lester version gives Aramis a strong presence. His ambiguous nature is demonstrated in a scene where he tricks a Cardinal Guard into prayer- then quickly skewering him. He and Porthos enjoy a close friendship, bickering with each other, being partners in dueling and tennis. Aramis is also a speaking board of cynicism, talking nonchalantly about the pointless reasons for risking their lives (because it is ordered) and religious wars (because the opposing groups read their bibles in different languages).
The 1987 Japanese Animation has Aramis as a woman disguising herself as a male Musketeer (out of respect for a dear twin sibling). This Aramis also has her own OVA special ARAMIS NO BOKEN.
Richard Lester's sequel THE RETURN OF THE MUSKETEERS (1989) gives Aramis a limited role (due to Richard Chamberlain limited commitment to the film). Now The Queen's Confessor (while still enjoying his libertine habits), Aramis is reunited with D'Artagnan but refuses to ally with him for the unpopular Cardinal Mazarin. When it is revealed that he and Athos are supporting Mazarin's enemy the Duke of Beaufort, D'Artagnan and Porthos cross swords with their comrades. His hand cut by an angry D'Artagnan, Aramis breaks his sword in spite and rides away. Later, when Mazarin kidnaps the young King Louis XIV, Aramis secretly infiltrates the Cardinal's fortress and sword-points the Cardinal to sign documents benefiting France, his fellow Musketeers, and himself (he becomes a Bishop). He is reconciled with his Musketeer friends.
The 1993 Disney version gives Aramis a backstory; he was a disillusioned minion of the evil Cardinal Richelieu. When Richelieu kidnaps the King and Queen, Aramis stands in his way. The Cardinal shoots him, but his crucifix takes the bullet. Later, he secretly boards the Cardinal's getaway boat, defeats his guards but allows Louis XIV the honor of punching Richelieu off the boat.
The 1998 version of THE MAN OF THE IRON MASK restores Aramis his source role as mastermind in switching Louis XIV with his imprisoned twin brother, though here the act is made to benefit France rather than his own ambitions