Warning: spoilers for The King’s Man’s ending are in play. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you might want to avoid reading on.
The history of the Kingsman Agency is a subject that hasn’t been tackled, until now. With co-writer/director Matthew Vaughn’s The King’s Man starting to fill the gaps from this intelligence body’s inception through to the modern day, both the historic past and potential future of Kingsman have been established. Doing so with the trademark wit and cheek that the series has been known for, there’s more fun in store if The King's Man ending is any indication.
What Happened At The End Of The King’s Man?
Orlando, the Duke of Oxford (played by Ralph Fiennes in The King's Man cast) personally helps to put an end to World War I. Fighting off the evil agents of the mysterious villain known as The Shepherd (Matthew Goode), Oxford take the man out himself, after a climactic battle on top of a mountain stronghold. Though The Shepherd mistook Orlando for a complete pacifist, losing his only son, Conrad (Harris Dickinson), to the war allowed him to make an exception.
With the Treaty of Versailles signed, some thought “The Great War” was said and done. Orlando Oxford knows better, and sees the road to World War II ahead. As such, he calls in a personal favor from King George V (Tom Hollander), and it’s in the form of acquiring a tailor shop. It’s not just any shop, though, and the Duke of Oxford doesn’t want it so he can keep himself flush with fine suits. Thanks to this new acquisition, the Kingsman Agency is born, in the halls that inspired its very creation.
Oxfords, Not Rogues: How The Kingsman Agency Was Formed
While Orlando Oxford was a pacifist, he wasn’t afraid to fight when he had to. A veteran of the Second Boer War, the elder Oxford lost his wife in an ambush, and vowed never to fight again. For the most part, his efforts in The King’s Man are limited to intelligence gathering, through the help of his loyal assistants Shola (Djimon Honsou) and Polly (Gemma Arterton).
Through his own agents, what would become the Kingsman agency was formed by employing a “network of domestics” throughout the royal houses of Germany, England, and Russia. Using their seemingly invisible positions as unique posts to report back from, information key to the prevention (and ultimately the end of World War I), was sent back to the Oxford estate, where it could be acted upon.
A similar strategy was used by The Shepherd himself, as his body of agents (known as The Shepherd’s Flock) also found their way into the corridors of influence. Amounting to one big chess game, Oxford and his agents won this round. But to keep protecting the world, he’d have to form the first roster of Kingsman agents.
The First Kingsman Roundtable
Inspired by Conrad’s love of Arthurian legend, Kingsman code names were drawn from that very source. This is still reflected in the more modern incarnation of the agency, with Galahad being issued to both Harry Hart (Colin Firth) and Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton), as an example. In The King’s Man, the title of Galahad is given to Polly, a crack sharpshooter, and Conrad’s former nanny.
The rest of the team is filled out with agents who were instrumental to World War I’s eventual end. “Lancelot” is the codename of Archie Reid (Aaron Taylor-Johnson,) a brief friend and colleague of Conrad’s in the trenches. Meanwhile, King George V is “Percival,” and the United States ambassador to England (Stanley Tucci) is bestowed the name of Bedivere. Rounding out the ranks are Shola, who is the first “Merlin” at Kingsman, and Orlando himself, who heads up the team as the first “Arthur.”
Lambs For The Slaughter: Meet The Shepherd’s Flock
Strangely enough, the villains were more organized than the heroes at first. In the world of The King’s Man, World War I was the plan of The Shepherd, who used his flock of agents to make it so. A rogue’s gallery of actual historical villains, The Shepherd’s Flock had three very important agents egging on the childhood grudge of cousins King George V, Tsar Nicolas II, and Kaiser Wilhelm II (all played by Tom Hollander).
Most importantly, The Shepherd masqueraded as a man named Morton, burrowing into British intelligence and doing his part from there. The infamous Grigori Rasputin (Rhys Ifans) and Erik Jan Hanussen (Daniel Brühl) were the moles in the respective Russian and German governments, with direct connections to their country’s sovereign, and deep influence. Not all of the remaining members are known by name, but it should be noted that The Shepherd’s Flock also claimed Gavrilo Princip (Joel Basman,) Mata Hari (Valerie Pachner,) and Vladimir Lenin (August Diehl) as members.
How And Why The Shepherd’s Flock Instigated World War I
Not wanting to stray too far from the historical events of World War I, The King’s Man shows Gavrilo Princip carrying out his fateful assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria (Ron Cook) and Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg (Barbara Drennan.) However, Matthew Vaughn’s version of events folds this action in with a greater conspiracy, as that spark starts flames that are fanned by Rasputin and Hanussen on their respective ends. It all adds up to The Shepherd’s own personal mission to overthrow the monarchies of the world.
The Scottish Shepherd is vengeful over how the British crown has historically treated the formerly independent Scotland. With revolution on his mind, he targets the three cousins that reign over the most powerful European countries, and is set to turn them against each other. Anarchy, and freedom, are the intended result; with The Shepherd's Flock sewing discord among royalty, and their subjects.
Where The King’s Man Franchise Intends To Go Next
Evil never rests, and The King’s Man sees the remaining ranks of The Shepherd’s Flock plotting their own sequel. Erik Jan Hanussen is shown in a mid-credits sequence doing just that, coveting a secret store of gold and meeting with an up and coming political figure who's going to be very important in the next couple of years. Credited as “Moustached Man” (David Kross), the stage is set for none other than Adolf Hitler to rise to power.
That’s only the beginning of what Matthew Vaughn has planned for the eventual franchise he’s looking to flesh out with sequels to The King’s Man. Keeping in mind the approach of mixing the historical with the outrageous, and not making fun of these actual events, there’s a fine line that has to be walked when including a character like Hitler. Here’s what Vaughn said he hopes to do, which he shared with an exclusive roundtable that CinemaBlend attended:
In terms of working with such an infamous world leader, Vaughn went on to discuss how Hitler's powers of oration were what drew him to including him in the future. With Adolf Hitler swaying quite a huge group of people in his early career, including some of the English aristocracy, showing all the angles of his rise is a component that a King's Man sequel is sure to include. Though he also mentioned that Winston Churchill and the Kingsman Agency's resistance to such ideas could also factor into the overall story.
Extending his ambitions further into the future, CinemaBlend also learned what the co-writer/director has in mind for the full story of The King’s Man half of the Kingsman Cinematic Universe. A logical progression of the idea espoused above, Matthew Vaughn is excited for the future of his historical experiment. Should this latest entry be successful, here’s where the game plan will ultimately lead:
The worlds of Kingsman and The King’s Man could eventually collide, should the fans want to see it happen. Future endeavors have a firm foundation to be built upon with this fast and entertaining action-adventure caper, which makes this one required viewing for any Kingsman fan. If you’ve already seen it, or somehow needed to spoil the film before you head out to theaters, The King’s Man is currently showing in theaters. If you want to check out the remaining 2021 movie premiere dates, that information is out in the open for you to survey. No need to employ any spy tactics here.
CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.
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