The “Kingsman” movie series started with a bang in 2015 with “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” A unique take on the spy genre that emphasized a younger protagonist and lots of R-rated violence, it was a breath of fresh air in the world of spy films, which had long been defined by James Bond and Jason Bourne. With an original film this successful, it was only a matter of time before follow-ups emerged.
In 2017, the first sequel was delivered in the form of “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” while the second extension of the franchise is looking to shake things up even further by taking things to the past. “The King’s Man” is a prequel that looks at the origins of the Kingsman organization, which dates back to World War I. A battle with Rasputin, extended fistfights, and guns concealed in swords, among other distinctive elements, are all involved.
Though devotees to the “Kingsman” series can expect the kind of violence and gizmos that “The King’s Man” will deliver, there are still tons of aspects of this production that aren’t common knowledge to even diehard fans. The untold truth of “The King’s Man” covers director Matthew Vaughn’s original creative intent for this project, the costume design aspirations of this prequel, and its struggles to stick to a release date, among other elements. Getting into the nitty-gritty of it all uncovers details that reflect the creative ambition that’s made the “Kingsman” movies so popular.
What does The King's Man have to do with its source material?
It’s easy to forget now, but the “Kingsman” movies didn’t just emerge from the mind of director Matthew Vaughn. They originated as a series of comic books penned by Mark Millar under the name “The Secret Service.” Like many film adaptations of Millar’s works, the “Kingsman” movies have altered many details from the comics that inspired them. This is most apparent in “The King’s Man,” which takes the action back to World War I, but also deviates the “Kingsman” features even further from their source material.
The original comics that “Kingsman” is based on have spawned a trio of storylines, two of which came out after the original film was released and increased the popularity of the “Kingsman” brand name. None of these tales, though, involve the origins of this famous organization. Meanwhile, the principal characters of “The King’s Man,” like Orlando, Duke of Oxford, have never appeared in any media before this prequel. The depiction of real-world historical figures like Rasputin as over-the-top caricatures does mean that “The King’s Man” aligns with Millar’s comedic sensibilities (which informed the first “Kingsman” comics storyline, focusing on actual celebrities being antagonists). But the largely new mythos being crafted for the proceedings indicate how far this series has strayed from its source material.
The King's Man was supposed to film back-to-back with Kingsman 3
Filming blockbusters back-to-back is a daunting undertaking, but it can be a cost-efficient one. After all, if you’ve already got the principal actors, costumes, and sets in one place, why not get the most mileage possible out of them all at once? Franchises like “The Matrix” and “The Lord of the Rings” have famously utilized this filming technique and, for a moment, it looked like director Matthew Vaughn was planning on going this route with his “Kingsman” movies. Such a plan would have involved filming “The King’s Man” and an untitled third “Kingsman” movie, the latter focusing on Taron Edgerton’s Eggsy, back-to-back.
At the time, Vaughn didn’t relay to outlets like Empire any further details on these filming plans. With the benefit of hindsight, the concept of filming these projects back-to-back seems peculiar. Usually, such a tactic is utilized on productions like the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, where there’s a consistent cast across both features. In this case, these two “Kingsman” movies would have used drastically different casts as a result of “The King’s Man” being a prequel taking place during World War I. The reasoning behind this expansive plan was never explained, though, since Vaughn would later abandon this concept and shoot “The King’s Man” on its own.
Classic epics inspired The King's Man
For the first two “Kingsman” movies, Matthew Vaughn was inspired by the concept of taking vintage James Bond adventures and adding his R-rated spin to the property. One would expect all entries in this franchise to adhere to this creative inspiration. However, for “The King’s Man,” Vaughn had a radically different idea for what movies to lean on. Speaking about it at the 2019 New York Comic-Con (as reported by Entertainment Weekly), Vaughn said he was looking to vintage Hollywood epics as a guiding light for the prequel.
Vaughn had grown up watching movies like “Dr. Zhivago” that had sweeping global scopes and elaborate period-era settings. Such titles always held a close spot to the filmmaker’s heart and he was eager to make a movie in this mold. Originally developed as a standalone project, Vaughn would later tweak his homage to these classic features so that it could serve as a prequel to the “Kingsman” franchise. With a familiar brand name on his side, Vaughn had no trouble securing funding for “The King’s Man,” which was as much a tip of the hat to influential movies from the director’s youth as it was to earlier “Kingsman” entries.
The King's Man was meant to work on its own
A common complaint about many prequels is how they just serve to remind people of other, better movies they already love. Rather than delivering stories that prove entertaining as standalone entities, they’re often full of ham-fisted attempts at “explaining” elements from prior films that nobody needed an explanation for. Matthew Vaughn seemed conscious of this problem when he first began talking about “The King’s Man” publicly, emphasizing how this prequel would not just be a commercial for the original two “Kingsman” movies.
At New York Comic-Con (per Entertainment Weekly), Vaughn explained that his ways of maintain a standalone quality to “The King’s Man” was through making sure the characters in this project were not connected to individuals that moviegoers were familiar with. Though they work for the same agency as the established “Kingsman” characters, “The King’s Man” doesn’t focus on the grandfathers of Eggsy or Harry. The World War I setting of “The King’s Man,” which sets the movie an entire century before the events of the other “Kingsman” movies, also helped make it possible to detach “The King’s Man” from what had come before it. While many prequels get tripped up with attaching themselves to the past, Vaughn worked hard to overcome that familiar flaw.
The visual ambitions for The King's Man
For the first two entries in the “Kingsman” franchise, visual consistency was maintained by director of photography George Richmond. A British cinematographer whose worked on projects ranging from “Rocketman” to “Free Guy,” it seemed likely that he’d return for the third entry in the saga, “The King’s Man.” However, for unknown reasons, Matthew Vaughn opted to go in a different direction for this prequel. Ben Davis was hired to provide the cinematography for “The King’s Man” — a fine choice given how he had extensive experience with blockbusters after working on five separate Marvel Cinematic Universe productions.
In exploring his visual approach to the film, Davis explained to IBC that the decision was made early on to provide some visual continuity with the original “Kingsman” movie. However, “The King’s Man” was also shot in a style evoking old-school Hollywood epics, complete with more measured cuts and longer lenses. Meanwhile, the film’s elaborately-rehearsed fight scenes employed stunt performers rather than CG doubles as a way of maintaining a sense of tactility with the distinctly human heroes. He also observed that “The King’s Man” employs more subdued colors to remain true to its World War I setting, a choice that immediately differentiates it from the vibrant palette of the prior “Kingsman” movies. Though Davis was a newcomer to the world of “Kingsman,” he clearly brought a distinct creative vision.
The various release dates for The King's Man
Originally, “The King’s Man” was set for a November 15, 2019 debut. This would have been just two years after “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” hit theaters and would have fit in with how 20th Century Fox had released several hit movies (like “Murder on the Orient Express” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”) in early November of previous years. Such a date spelled confidence for “The King’s Man.” However, given that filming didn’t begin until January 2019, it’s no surprise that the production was pushed forward to a February 2020 date, mimicking the February 2015 launchpad of the original “Kingsman.”
Just as marketing was underway for “The King’s Man,” another postponement occurred in November 2019, this time pushing it to a September 2020 date that mirrored the September 2017 debut of “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.” However, this delay would end up plopping “The King’s Man” into the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down movie theaters globally in March 2020. A slew of further delays occurred, with the film bouncing from February 2021 to August 2021. Eventually, Disney, which had purchased 20th Century Fox since “The King’s Man” began filming, set a final release date for December 2021. This placed “The King’s Man” directly against “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and a week before “The Matrix Resurrections,” meaning the prequel would arrive a staggering 25 months after it was originally supposed to.
Daniel Bruhl's multi-film hopes for his King's Man character
Given his experience playing Zemo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in “Captain America: Civil War” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” Daniel Bruhl is no stranger to a role in a modern franchise being a lengthy time commitment. He kept this in mind when he took on the part of the villainous Erik Jan Hassunen in “The King’s Man.” Given that this is already the third entry in the “Kingsman” series, it should be no surprise that Bruhl was conscious of how this role could go on for years and years.
Talking to Variety, Bruhl explained that he enjoyed his time on the set of “The King’s Man,” particularly when he could take lessons in filmmaking from Matthew Vaughn. His time on the production wasn’t lengthy, but Bruhl noted it was “a pivotal part.” More importantly, he saw the role as one that could go on for multiple movies. In fact, Bruhl joked that, on blockbusters like “The King’s Man,” he was immensely concerned with whether or not his character survived to the very end so that he could be guaranteed appearances in potential sequels. As if playing Zemo across various Marvel TV shows and movies wasn’t enough, Bruhl now has a significant “Kingsman” character to his name too.
Gemma Arterton wanted even more action scenes
Although she’s done her fair share of weighty dramas, Gemma Arterton has amassed an impressive amount of roles in action blockbusters. These have included parts in “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” and “Clash of the Titans,” as well as portraying the titular role of Gretel in “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.” She continued this trend with her work as the female lead of “The King’s Man,” although she says she would have liked to get her hands even dirtier during filming.
Talking to Yahoo, Arterton revealed that, though she had some action beats, the majority of the hand-to-hand combat in “The King’s Man” went to the male characters. But Arterton still praised her character’s efficiency when it came to dishing out violence, noting how she came in, got things done, and quickly left. Arterton added that this quality came from how her character works as a nanny when she isn’t helping the budding Kingsman organization save the world. It’s encouraging that Arterton had such specific character details to work with in “The King’s Man,” even if it is surprising that this movie didn’t give more stunts to a performer who’s well-versed in action material.
The unique costume design decisions of The King's Man
It’s true that “manners maketh man,” but so do the outfits those men wear. The characters of the “Kingsman” franchise adorn themselves in glorious suits that make them look as polished as they are deadly. It’s only fitting that “The King’s Man” would maintain the detailed costume design of previous installments even with the action shifting to World War I.
Costume design Michele Clapton explained to Icon that the attire for this film strove for a balance of capturing the past without alienating moviegoers in the present. “For ‘The King’s Man,'” she explained. “We explored 1910’s dress codes, designing luxurious tailoring, military-wear and casualwear that represents the way of dress for men from 100 years ago, but with a ‘Hey, that looks fresh contemporary spin.'” British military wares became especially prominent in the costumes worn by the main characters, as did three-piece suits. Vaughn’s own inclinations for fashion influenced this part of the production, with the director noting his fondness for high-cut double breasted suits. With all those extensively-researched details, “The King’s Man” maintained the stylish costume legacy of the “Kingsman” franchise while also delivering a new vision of what Kingsman agents could look like.
The rumored but debunked title The Great Game
The first two “Kingsman” movies each got subtitles — even the very first installment in the series. Going that route with the inaugural film, “The Secret Service,” subtly promised moviegoers that this standalone adventure could spawn further installments. Films like “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” can attest to the hardships of naming your first movie in a fashion that tees up sequels, but it’s worked out well for the “Kingsman” series. Due to the ubiquity of such monikers in the franchise, it’s no surprise that there were once rumors of “The King’s Man” also getting a subtitle.
Initially, this prequel was presumed to be called “Kingsman: The Great Game.” However, Matthew Vaughn would later clarify that this was not the title nor had it ever even been considered as a title for the project. Instead, the prequel would eschew the subtitles of its predecessors for a comparatively streamlined title: “The King’s Man.” This approach would indicate the sparser nature of the titular organization in its earliest days during World War I. Fans of the franchise will just have to keep waiting for an entry named “The Great Game.”
Original plans for Kingsman Cinematic Universe
When it was first revealed that “The King’s Man” was moving forward, it wasn’t the only “Kingsman” project in the pipeline. Talking to Empire, Matthew Vaughn revealed that it was one of several projects in the “Kingsman” cinematic universe that he was plotting. In addition to the already announced third “Kingsman” film starring Taron Edgerton’s Eggsy, the director also revealed that there were plans for an eight-hour-long “Kingsman” TV show as well as a spin-off project focused on the American Statesman organization introduced in the film “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.” The world of this franchise had already expanded mightily with “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” and now Vaughn wanted to build on all that dense lore across various mediums of storytelling.
With the “Kingsman” franchise expanding its scope wildly from the characters introduced in “Kingsman: The Secret Service” back in 2015, it only made sense for one of the first projects out of the gate to be a prequel like “The King’s Man” that explored where all this lore originated from. While “The King’s Man” eventually became a motion picture, there has been no word on the other prospective installments in this franchise, particularly the TV show or the “Statesman” project. For now, the ambitions for a larger “Kingsman” universe remain just ambitions.
Matthew Vaughn's potential extended cut of The King's Man
Some fans of the “Kingsman” franchise just can’t get enough of these films. Such devotees likely don’t just wish there were more installments in this series, but that the entries that do exist were significantly longer. To those individuals, Matthew Vaughn has some good news. There is an extended cut of “The King’s Man” and it lives up to the ribald nature of this saga.
Talking to Empire, Vaughn revealed that 40 minutes of footage was cut from “The King’s Man” that included truly raunchy material. While not divulging official plans to issue this version, Vaughn did remark that an extended edition could be released, jokingly dubbing it “The King’s Man Vaughn cut” in a nod to the “Snyder Cut” of “Justice League.” Interestingly, this isn’t the first time the concept of a “Kingsman” movie receiving a separate extended cut has emerged. Colin Firth previously teased that there was a director’s cut of “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” while Vaughn also separately said there was enough material trimmed from that sequel that there were brief considerations to split “The Golden Circle” into two halves.
Despite all that excess material, there hasn’t been an extended version of “The Golden Circle” in the years since its release. Given this, it’s unknown if all the deleted material from “The King’s Man” will ever officially surface either. The ongoing appetite for all things “Kingsman” suggests there’d certainly be an audience for it.Internet Explorer Channel Network