How Matthew Vaughn Made The King’s Man Prequel Relevant To Today’s Society

The Kings Man Ralph Fiennes

While the movies are certainly built as action-adventure blockbusters, the Kingsman franchise has also never been particularly subtle when it comes to commentary about modern politics. Hot button issues like global warming and drug legalization have been deeply embedded in the plots of both Kingsman: The Secret Service and Kingsman: The Golden Circle, though the movies definitely do spin things in their own heightened way.

With this in mind, a question is generated about The King’s Man – the upcoming prequel movie that is set during the early years of the 20th century. Given that it’s a period film, one might wonder if there will still be a particular effort made to explore topical issues and be relevant to today’s society.

As we learned while on a visit to the set of the movie when it was in production earlier this year, the answer to that question is, “Yes.” CinemaBlend's own Gabe Kovacs observed filming and participated in interviews with actors and filmmakers, and it was in conversation with director Matthew Vaughn that the movie’s political commentary was raised. Discussing the subject, the filmmaker said,

That was odd about this film, is it's very relevant to, going to be, to a modern audience. I want kids to see that when crazy people are running the world things can get out of control very, very quickly. I think we're in a political climate which is very similar to the pre-World War I climate where nobody thought there could be a war. And then there was a war, and nobody understood why there was a war.

Those who know their history know that Matthew Vaughn is entirely right in his depiction of the world in the run-up to World War I, which could be metaphorically described as a pot ready to boil over. It was famously the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that lit the powder keg for what would wind up being a global conflict, but the powder keg was able to be lit because of ramping militarism and nationalism, as well as the formation of extreme political alliances in Europe, and peaking imperialism.

The end result was one of the bloodiest, most devastating wars that the Earth has ever seen… and Matthew Vaughn also mentioned feeling that he's seeing similar elements as a part of our world today. He more expressly pointed out:

I feel we're in… if you look at the president of America, and the Brexit, and Europe, and everybody, it's madness. And World War I was pure madness, and the whole point about World War I is Kingsmen was founded because of why World War I happened. And I wish there were real Kingsmen in the world now.

The King's Man, inspired by the comics created by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, is written by Jane Goodman, Karl Gajdusek, and Matthew Vaughn, and introduces audiences to a new pair of heroes: Ralph Fiennes' Duke of Oxford, and Harris Dickinson's Conrad. While telling the origin story of the franchise’s eponymous group, the film follows the veteran and his protégé as their work together to stop a plot connived by a group of some of the history’s greatest tyrants and criminal geniuses.

While it’s not explicitly clear just yet how The King’s Man will be aiming its political commentary, or how it will be molded into the story being told, Ralph Fiennes is of the opinion that you won’t exactly be able to miss it when you see the finished film. Discussing the subject during his time with the journalists visiting set, he noted that the film doesn’t go as far as to beat you over the head with its messaging, but at the same time it is very clear in what it is trying to say. Said the Oscar-nominated star,

I mean I don't think it's a heavy handed sort of parallel, but I think it'd be odd for one not to see. I mean Matthew, as I said earlier, the sort of speech at the end reflects a kind of impatience with political bureaucracy. I'm sure some people will... I don't know how they'll judge it, but I think you can draw that parallel.

Also starring Daniel Bruhl, Rhys Ifans, Gemma Arterton, Charles Dance, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Djimon Hounsou, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Stanley Tucci, and more, The King's Man will be arriving in theaters as one of the first blockbusters of next year – specifically on February 14, 2020 (which is actually one day after the five year anniversary of Kingsman: The Secret Service).

Between now and then, be sure to be on the lookout for more of our coverage here on CinemaBlend, as this is one of a number of interesting things that we learned on the set of the upcoming sequel.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.