Manners Maketh Man... And A Sequel - What I'd Do With Kingsman 2
Contains massive spoilers about the original Kingsman film, and wild conjecture about the sequel.
It's always fun when a new movie is released of a familiar genre, but does something so original that it reinvents the concept in the process.
Kingsman: The Secret Service did that this year. Matthew Vaughn created an incredible film (with a Jane Goldman co-written script based on Mark Millar's comic book), that violently, swearily, and humorously kicked new life into the spy film. A love letter to classic Bond, with colour splashed lavishly across the page. But, if you've re-invented a genre, what do you do when it comes around to making a sequel?
Vaughn has - until now - had a "no sequel" policy, but it was recently announced (by the man himself) that he's working on the second script right now, and if he can get it to the point where he's happy, then Kingsman 2 is on (hopefully, there'll be a subtitle - though Kingsman II might be appropriate).
For me, this is outstanding news - I left the cinema after watching the first one immediately ready to see more; it was so much fun and left such scope for future stories that I couldn't wait. The mid-credits scene (the "Manners Maketh Man" reprise where Eggsy goes to get his Mum) hints at the fact that Eggsy has now been accepted into Kingsman - presumably as the new Galahad, with Merlin as the new Arthur (see below). But, where do you go from there? Well, here are the seven things that I would include in the Kingsman sequel:
1) DON'T IGNORE THE ORIGINAL
One of the things you virtually never get with the James Bond films is Bond referring to the events that occurred during his previous missions (there's a few exceptions, such as Quantum of Solace being a direct sequel to Casino Royale, etc, rubbish though it was). His task - as was Harry Hart's in Kingsman - is preservation of the peace, without the general public knowing they were ever at risk. Kingsman 2 won't have that luxury; the world changed in a major way during the first film, with virtually every major world leader (including Obama and the Royal Family) killed by Valentine's implants. I'd love for the sequel to pick up just a few months after the original ended. We could see Kingsman rebuilding (presumably most of their agents could've been wiped out by Valentine's machine, so Eggsy & Roxy could be the only UK agents left, requiring them to work on missions rookie agents wouldn't usually be assigned to), and dealing with the ramifications that came from stopping Valentine. It'd be nice to have a spy franchise that develops the story as it grows, rather than each installment essentially being a standalone. This leads me to...
2) DON'T REVERSE THE DEATHS, BUT ADD MORE COLIN FIRTH
One of the things I heard early on is that if a sequel were to happen, Vaughn would look to bring Firth back in, despite his sudden, game-changing departure from the first installment. I'm all for this, I'd love to see Colin Firth kicking ass again as Harry Hart, but... this isn't a Marvel movie, so I want both his and Michael Caine's deaths to stick. Therefore, I'm hoping that flashbacks are embraced rather than anything more elaborate. According to an interview with Vaughn I read last week, a flashback was shot for Kingsman with Michael Caine digitally altered to look (roughly) like his 30 year old, younger self, in a scene depicting him robbing a Russian bank when he was an agent, but it was cut for pacing.
Stuff like that would be awesome to see in the sequel, as it expands the Kingsman mythos, and could serve as setup to the mission Eggsy has to go on. What happens when Eggsy opens Harry's locker and finds a few skeletons in there? We know very little about the history of the Kingsman organisation and its members, and exploring both it and them could open up so many narrative opportunities.
3) MORE ROXY/LANCELOT
Again, Bond's never had a recurring female field agent (though they're kinda trying now with Eve Moneypenny), and Vaughn has one hell of a resource in Sophie Cookson who was underutilised in the first film. While Kingsman is obviously Eggsy's film, the truth is it serves as the origin story for two agents, only one of whom actually passes the final test to get the job. Despite this, Roxy is given the frankly easier task of shooting down Valentine's satellite, while the candidate who failed the interview process is given the more elaborate mission. Shouldn't Lancelot have really been given the main job? Admittedly, Eggsy has to pose as Arthur, and a 20-something blonde declaring herself to be "Chester King" may have seemed a tad suspicious, but still... at this point in the story, Roxy is the only actual field agent available to Merlin, and he goes with Eggsy. She's also, presumably, the first female Kingsman in the organisation's history - so that's worth considering. In a still from what seems to be another deleted scene, we can see Merlin (now sitting in Arthur's seat) and Roxy (sitting in her seat as Lancelot), presumably looking up as Eggsy arrives as the new Galahad (he says, speculating wildly). Cookson looks incredible in her bespoke suit and glasses, and I look forward to her getting to go (what I'm now referring to as) "the full Firth" in the sequel, and really kick some ass.
4) MORE OF ROXY & EGGSY TOGETHER
Unusually, Cookson is dangled in front of us in the first film as Eggsy's presumed love interest, yet it never actually comes into being - the two quickly bond as the outsiders in the posh boys' club, they share a few of the movie's softer - perhaps even tender - moments, and ultimately save the world together; however, any actual admission of romance is sacrificed in order to have the film's final, controversial punchline with the Swedish Princess - which, for the record, I've got no problem with; I think it's an amusing, 21st century spoof of Roger Moore's more elaborate one liners ("Bond, what on earth do you think you're doing?" "Keeping the British end up, sir."). I actually like that their relationship didn't leap straight to romance though, as it gives the characters space to grow into together in the future. A sentence I'm about to use a lot in my blogs this week is this: "There are two narrative devices that heighten any story for me; a good laugh, and a great love story". If the main character's in love, then the emotional stakes are higher, and the audience is more invested (though I do hate a protracted will they/won't they scenario). I'd be keen to see Eggsy & Roxy's relationship develop across a few films as they grow closer and closer. It'd also provide another opportunity to differentiate from Bond going forward, who's had plenty of lovers, but never a partner (certainly not one that's lasted into a second film). It's unexplored territory for the spy genre - what happens when two secret agents are dating and working together? What would Bond be like in a long term relationship? Plus, you've got the whole Romeo & Juliet, star-crossed lovers aspect that Eggsy and Roxy's class divide opens up. Rich, rich ground to cover.
5) WHO IS E?
In the first film, after Roxy destroys the satellite, Valentine calls a friend for permission to use their replacement in the daisy chain; Valentine identifies him purely as "E". Could he be the next opposition for the Kingsmen to face off with? Is there an international cabal of bad guys who refer to themselves by single letter nicknames? Could it be that...
6) THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE...
We know from the first film that Kingsman is an international agency, as Harry refers to the tech department in Berlin. It is, therefore, conceivable that the organisation contains some international agents. It's also likely that some members went rogue following Arthur's defection, not to mention after Eggsy, Roxy, and Merlin took out most of the world's leaders, as well as Arthur, only for Merlin to then replace him. Wouldn't those agents be angry not to have been included in these plans? Would they be unhappy that the Quartermaster/Trainer was promoted to Chief over them? Wouldn't they be seeking retribution? Of course they would! So why not have the next film's villain be a rogue Kingsman agent. Someone who doesn't need a sidekick like Gazelle to do their dirty work, as they themselves are perfectly capable? Perhaps even a team of former agents, each with a vendetta against the organisation. That leaves one question... Who is the European answer to Colin Firth? For me, it can only be one man - Jean Dujardin.
He's suave enough to be a gentleman spy, he's incredibly charismatic, and he looks great in a suit - how could he NOT work for Kingsman's French office? Not to mention the fact that villains very rarely get to be more conventionally charming than the hero (looking at you, Eggsy). Then you've just got to give him a name that starts with E (Édouard? Everard? Eugene?), and you've got him tied to Valentine's network.
7) NEW AGENTS; OLD FACES
Thanks to Harry Hart, we know that Kingsman has been running since the First World War. We know what happens when a Kingsman dies, and how he's replaced, but what happens if he doesn't die? What happens if he survives every mission, and eventually retires? There could be other, former agents (besides Arthur) still alive. How are Arthur's successors selected, and who appointed Merlin to be the latest one? Is there a board of Governors - the female heirs of the founders, perhaps? The first film was brilliantly cast, making use of Michael Caine, Colin Firth, and even Jack Davenport (albeit briefly) to play the archetypal English gentleman, but we're hardly short on renowned British actors. What about Sir Ian McKellan as a now retired Tristan, the last surviving Kingsman of the 50s era? Let's have Hugh Grant as Gawain; an agent who's been undercover for the last five years, Galahad's "office rival" (á la Bridget Jones), and the nephew of Arthur (Caine, not Strong, obviously). Ooh, perhaps Hugh Laurie as the new Merlin? Maybe even (the ever brilliant) Julie Walters as Guinevere, chairwoman of Kingsman's board? There's so many fun options to play with, just by dipping into Britain's sensational pool of acting talent. You could even use a former Bond - Timothy Dalton is usually great as a villain.
If they get the sequel right, then the franchise really is born, and like Bond it could run for years. You wouldn't even need a different actor to play Eggsy when Egerton wants to move on - you could just recruit a new agent, and start again. If that does happen, look out for my future blogs: "What I'd like to see in Kingsman 3", and "What I'd adore in Kingsman 4". Or who knows, maybe I'll have gotten over the novelty of rhyming titles by then...