How to ruin a series in one prequel or less

Kingsman prequel fails to deliver the charm of the original films


20th Century Studios

Movie poster for “The King’s Man,” a prequel to the Kingsman series that offers all new characters and histories for this spy trilogy. This movie follows the Duke of Oxford as he forms the Kingsman agency with his son, Conrad Oxford.

After almost four years of anticipation for an addition to the Kingsman series, “The King’s Man” was a severe disappointment. 

It lacked the usual brilliance of the previous films from 2014 and 2017. A dragging plot, short lived and unimpressive fight scenes, and hard to love characters  are all pieces of this movie that ultimately led to its demise. 

[T]here is not always a need for a sequel or a prequel. 

— Staff Writer Mary Davis

Viewers meet Conrad Oxford and his father the Duke of Oxford. The Duke is running a secret intelligence agency to assist the war efforts. It follows the creation of the Kingsman agency alongside World War I and the Russian Revolution.

Eggsy Unwin, the main character of the first two films, is interesting and dynamic with motives that are relatable. Eggsy does everything he can to protect the people he loves and make them proud. 

On the other hand, Conrad Oxford, the leading character of “The King’s Man,” provided nothing of substance to the storyline and was killed off for virtually no reason. Conrad only had one motive throughout the movie – joining the military. This took focus away from the main plotline and caused the main objective of the film to be blurred.

Eggsy Unwin was able to create an interesting universe around the things he did with the Kingsman agency. He was a determined and likeable character that wanted to be right where he was. Conrad had a consistent dislike for the tasks he was given and whined quite profusely throughout the entire movie. It was strange to encounter a character that created such a lull in the pacing of the story.

Choosing to focus primarily on the historical context of the film’s time period was the greatest downfall. Set in 1914 during World War I and the Russian Revolution, the movie focused almost completely on the war happening around the characters and this is primarily due to their main character’s boring plotline. 

One of the most iconic fight scenes in film history comes from the first Kingsman film. The quintessential “church scene” is almost six minutes in length and has similar cinematography to the type used in “1917.” It has a feel of constant flow of motion that was achieved by clever cut placement creating an illusion of no cuts. 

A similar scene can be found in the sequel to “Secret Service,” the first movie in the series, but was missing in the recent film. The fight scenes present in “The Kings Man” were short and unimpressive. The trailer hinted at Rasputin being a part of an epic fight only to provide a short and anticlimactic letdown that lasted all of three minutes. 

When comparing this to “Secret Service” and “Golden Circle,” there is a clear downfall in the writing of a compelling villain. Valentine, from the original film, was a unique character with humor and a degree of cleverness to him. He was not just evil because he wanted to be, but because he believed in his cause. In contrast, the villain in “The King’s Man” had no clear motives other than revenge and was quickly taken out in a tedious sword fight. 

What was genius about the first two villains was that they were whimsical and classic Bond-like antagonists. Matthew Goode, who plays the main villain, Captain Morton, adds absolutely nothing to the usual comedic charm of the Kingsman movies. 

This movie has proved a point that many film fans have been saying from the beginning – there is not always a need for a sequel or a prequel. 

The Kingsman series has stood on its own very well for the years leading up to this release. “Secret Service” and “Golden Circle” both offered compelling storylines that were unique, including a cameo from Elton John in the second film. With all of this in mind it is no surprise that it failed in the box office only grossing around $34 million domestically with a budget of $100 million.

“The King’s Man” took itself too seriously and ultimately became wearisome. Although it seemed like an exciting idea, the final product seemed unfinished and made without care.