Paying homage to the gold standard of spy movies, the James Bond franchise, Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) has elements of 007 written all over it, but Matthew Vaughn brings comedic relief to the gritty genre and makes Kingsman the feel-good successor to Bond’s infamous legacy. Three years later, Vaughn birthed its sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle and it struck “gold” at the box office. It offered more of everything that made its predecessor so thoroughly entertaining. The third movie, titled The King’s Man, releases in December.
In 2021, four years after The Golden Circle, fans can finally rejoice for the long-awaited release of the third installment and prequel, The King’s Man. It received the eighth and final proposed release date more than two years after it was originally due to come out. It was scheduled for release back in November 2019, when its first trailer dropped but endured several delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, not only has the “hype” died for Kingsman after such a lengthy hiatus, but judging by The King’s Man previews and the severe lack of Eggsy, the franchise should have stopped after The Golden Circle and left well enough alone.
What is Kingsman About?
The Kingsman film series is a collection of action spy films based on the comic books The Secret Service and its sequels, The Big Exit and The Red Diamond by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. Its plot surrounds its central protagonist, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, played by Taron Egerton in The Secret Service and The Golden Circle.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Lee Unwin, a probationary secret agent, sacrifices himself to protect his superior, Harry Hart (Colin Firth), from an explosion. Hart, grieving Unwin’s loss, returns to London to seek out Lee’s widow, Michelle, and her young son, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin. He gives them a medal engraved with an emergency assistance number.
Several years later, Eggsy has wasted his talents and dropped out of the Royal Marines, despite the prospects of a promising career. When he gets arrested for stealing a car, he calls the emergency assistance number. Harry bails him out and confides in Eggsy that he is a member of Kingsman, a private intelligence service founded by the British elite who lost their heirs in World War I and put their money towards protecting the world.
Hart, codenamed “Galahad”, explains that a position is available, as agent “Lancelot” was killed in action. Eggsy is chosen to be Hart’s candidate and passes the rigorous training to become a certified Kingsman agent. He aids Hart in defending the world against eco-terrorist Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) and his personal henchwoman, Gazelle (Sofia Boutella).
Kingsman: The Secret Service can be streamed on FXNow and DirecTV.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Set a year after the defeat of Richmond Valentine, The Golden Circle sees Eggsy settled at Kingsman and dating Tilde (Hanna Alström), Crown Princess of Sweden. Charlie (Edward Holcroft), a rejected Kingsman agent, tries to enact his revenge on Eggsy after losing his right arm and vocal cords in the Valentine incident. Eggsy narrowly evades him in a car chase, but amidst the wreckage, Charlie’s cybernetic arm hacks into the Kingsman servers through the computer in Eggsy’s car.
Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), the leader of the world’s largest drug cartel, the Golden Circle, launches missiles that destroy Kingsman headquarters. Eggsy and Merlin, the sole survivors, hunt Poppy down to avenge their fallen comrades.
Revealing her sadistic intentions, Poppy broadcasts a message to announce that she had added a toxin to her distributed drugs. It causes users to develop symptoms such as a blue rash and signs of mania, before succumbing to paralysis and, subsequently, death. She offers the antidote to the world if the President of the United States will end the war on drugs and grant her cartel immunity from prosecution. Eggsy and Merlin are tasked with destroying Poppy’s operation and bringing her to justice before all hope is lost.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is currently available on both DirecTV and FXNow. Alternatively, it can be rented or purchased at prices starting from $2.99 from iTunes, Vudu, Microsoft Store, or Amazon.
The King’s Man
All we know so far about The King’s Man is a brief synopsis, which states, “a collection of history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds gather to plot a war to wipe out millions, and one man and his protégé must race against time to stop them.” Its cast includes Ralph Fiennes, Harris Dickinson, Gemma Arterton, and Daniel Brühl.
What is Different about The King’s Man?
While the only footage we have of The King’s Man is snippets from its trailers, it was confirmed by Matthew Vaughn that Harry and Eggsy would return for their closing chapter. Vaughn told Digital Spy, “We’ve got to finish off the Eggsy and Harry relationship. The final chapter of their relationship needs to be told.”
However, it was rumored and later confirmed in the trailers that The King’s Man would not revolve around Harry and Eggsy, which was disappointing to hear for fans of the dynamic duo. As The King’s Man is a prequel and Eggsy was either still in diapers or never even conceived, Taron Egerton would not reprise his role. With other fan favorites, Roxy and Merlin, biting the dust in The Golden Circle, it seems unlikely that they will return. However, Harry Hart miraculously survived his encounter with Valentine, so never say never.
Why the Franchise Should Have Stopped After The Golden Circle
Admittedly, The Golden Circle had a poor reception compared to The Secret Service. For whatever reason, its narrative just never resonated with audiences as Vaughn would have liked. Even Egerton commented that The Golden Circle received an “unfair kicking.” Julianne Moore played a convincing part as the power-hungry lunatic, Poppy, while Egerton and Firth always fail to disappoint. Plus, it featured Elton freaking John.
The King’s Man will ultimately feel incomplete without the stars that buried its roots. Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, and Mark Strong will be dearly missed in their main roles, as will terrifying villains like Samuel L. Jackson’s Richmond Valentine and Julianne Moore’s Poppy Adams.
The Golden Circle should have been Kingsman‘s swan song; not every franchise needs to be Pirates of the Caribbean or Fast and the Furious. As the saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Granted, spin-off movies like Statesman would do wonders for Kingsman overlapping plots, but The Golden Circle tied up the loose ends of the main story without the need for further explanation or backtracking. At the very least, there is hope yet for the Kingman franchise to relive its glory days. Matthew Vaughn announced that he was working on a Kingsman Cinematic Universe.
The King’s Man hits theaters on December 22.