Jonathan Prime
August 15, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT

Fans of author Dan Brown’s symbology expert Robert Langdon have been waiting a long time for his third film outing — seven years in fact. But returning director Ron Howard says there’s a “reason for the wait,” revealing his rationale for a break between sequel Angels and Demons and a subsequent feature.

“None of us are under contract,” Howard says of reuniting with star Tom Hanks for the franchise. “We’re not cranking out a series. It’s about making a movie when we all believed and agreed we had something exciting, fun, and worthy to share.”

Howard hopes that Inferno – which revolves around Langdon’s quest with a whip-smart doctor (Felicity Jones) to prevent a madman (Lone Survivor’s Ben Foster) from using Dante’s 14th-century description of hell as key to his warped plan for global destruction — reminds fans why he and Hanks launched the series in the first place.

“This one felt fresh,” says Howard, noting that Langdon’s a battle with amnesia acts as a severe crutch in his mission. “It felt like a fun, fascinating performance opportunity for Tom …the fact that Langdon is part of the mystery and not just an observer. He’s really in the mix, that gives it a psychological thriller component that was never really in the DNA of the previous movies.”

Important too, was the best-selling author Brown’s use of imagery in the original novel, on which Inferno is based.

“The fact that the historical component that Dan Brown chose is Dante in hell give me, as a director, all kinds of vivid cool moments, images, sounds and cutting styles to deal with,” says Howard. “So it was a really fun creative departure and undertaking for me, and for all of us.”

Which begs an all important question: Were Brown’s Dante references the deciding factor in adapting the fourth novel in the Da Vinci Code series over the third novel, The Lost Symbol?

The Lost Symbol is a terrific novel, and we tried to adapt it, but it never reached that point where we could all look at each other in the eye and say, you now, this is something progressive and interesting that we can do,” shares Howard. But hell, as it turns out, is a devilishly good jumping off point for film.

“I realize now that Dante was not only defining hell for Western civilization and Christianity, but he was inventing the horror genre because of all of his vivid descriptions of the punishments of the sinner,” Howard explains. “It’s everything you’ve seen repeated in every great shock moment in a cool horror film.”

Inferno hits theaters on Oct. 28. 

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